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Small Show, Incredible Impact: “I AM: Money Matters” Enjoys Big Night at ArtPrize 2014 Awards

Posted October 10, 2014 in ArtPrize

For the three weeks of ArtPrize, the eyes, ears, and minds of Grand Rapids have been engulfed by art. But at tonight’s award ceremony, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) proved that the old adage of ‘quality over quantity’ still rings as true as ever.

The strength and cohesive resonance of The Fed Galleries at KCAD’s eight-artist exhibition, “I AM: Money Matters,” culminated in two of the pieces - Sonya Clark’s “The Hair Craft Project” and Máximo González’s “Tengo Hambre” – earning top honors and $20,000 prizes in the juried Two-Dimensional and Three-Dimensional Categories, respectively.

Then, in perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, the three jurors who comprised the Juried Grand Prize panel decided that the $200,000 prize would be split as a result of a consensus tie between “The Hair Craft Project” and Anila Quayyum Agha’s piece, “Intersections” – an unprecedented event in the competition’s history.

Of Clark’s piece, a visually and conceptually powerful celebration of the artistry of Black hair-care specialists, Grand Prize Juror Susan Sollins of Art21 said:

“This work is quite special in that [Clark] has involved others in the creation of the work in a rather fascinating way with the involvement of the hairdressers, who are artists in their own right. It’s sort of craft art.”

"The Hair Craft Project" by Sonya Clark

Clark, whose piece was also among the top 25 in the public vote 2-D category, was thrilled that her art had captured the attention of viewers and critics alike.

"Just when you think no one is really paying attention, then this happens,” she said. “Receiving this award affirms my belief in the impact art and audience have on each other. Hair and textiles are part of our everyday experience, but seeing them as art is less common. Hairstylists are my heroes. I am thrilled by the juror's selection for personal reasons, of course, but also because this acknowledgement highlights the talents embedded within our culture. This prize will allow me to take on more projects that celebrate hairdressing and culture. I am honored by the award, grateful for the recognition, and eager to pursue the opportunities both afford me to take on in the future."

In the juried Three-Dimensional category, juror Shamim Momin selected González’ “Tengo Hambre” for its subtle beauty and strong statement about widespread apathy towards global issues such as hunger.

"Tengo Hambre" by Maximo Gonzalez

“One of the things that intrigued me about this work was its subtlety; it’s almost incidental when you look at it . . . each of those little tiny capsules embed in the wall like nails or insertions, they’re housing an individual voice in that capsule,” said Momin, who heads the site-specific art non-profit, the Los Angeles Nomadic Division  “The plaintiveness of that phrase is really evocative.”

González, who is from Argentina but lives and works in Mexico City, was touched by the appreciation given to a work that he has an especially strong connection with.

“I am honored to have participated in this exhibition and very thankful that the audience and the jury have noticed and appreciated my work,” he said. “To have been nominated for this important prize was already an award. I consider that there is a prize contained inside this work; the prize is the consciousness it creates, and that is the mission of art. These rice grains that have been branded by hand with the words ‘I am hungry’ in Spanish, my mother tongue, represent each and every one of us. It is our encapsulated, invisible scream, which can be sensed and is more powerful every day.”

Over the past three weeks, “I AM: Money Matters” raised bold questions – both for ArtPrize jurors and the viewing public – about currency, consumption, and value in exploring their influence on human beings, our emotions, and our understanding of the world around us. The Fed Galleries was a finalist for the Outstanding Venue Award for the second year in a row, and two other pieces in the exhibition – Mel Chin’s “Operation Paydirt: Grand Rapids” and Steve Lambert’s “Capitalism Works For Me” – were named to the jurors short list in the Time-Based category.

But for everyone who had a hand in bringing the exhibition to life, it was about much more than winning a competition; it was about providing experiences with art that are truly transformative, and doing so in a way that creates impact far beyond the traditional realm of the art world.

“In all of our exhibition planning, we strive to provoke thought, to challenge the viewer, to provide education and insight, and to not only give the works the space they need, but also to allow the viewers the space they need to enter into a meaningful conversation with the art,” said Joseph. “It’s an experience we’re committed to providing year-round – not just during ArtPrize.”

The KCAD community was represented at the ArtPrize 2014 awards beyond “I AM: Money Matters” as well.

Sculpture and Functional Art Professor Paul Amenta curated SiTE:LAB’s exhibition, which took home the Outstanding Venue Award for it’s ingenious use of the abandoned Morton Hotel.

Drawing Professor Deborah Rockman was recognized as the winner of a $1,000 American Civil Liberties Union award given by Fountain Street Church.

"The Space Between Us" by Deborah Rockman

Salvador Jimenez, KCAD alum (’14, MFA Drawing) and current Community Arts Advocate, had his piece entitled "I Am Not Who You Think I Am" named an Honorable Mention for the inaugural Paul Collins Diversity in Art award.

"I Am Not Who You Think I Am" by Salvador Jimenez

Here’s a complete breakdown of the ArtPrize 2014 Awards:

Juried Awards

- Grand Prize (tie): "Intersections," by Anila Quayyum Agha and "The Hair Craft Project," by Sonya Clark

- 2-D: "The Hair Craft Project," by Sonya Clark

- 3-D: "Tengo Hambre," by Maximo Gonzalez

- Time-Based: "respirador (breather)," by Dance in the Annex

- Installation: "Symptomatic Constant," by Julie Schenkelberg

- Outstanding Venue: SiTE:LAB @ The Morton

Public Awards

- Grand Prize: "Intersections," by Anila Quayyum Agha

- 2-D: "Outcry," by Gretchyn Lauer

- 3-D: "Reciprocity," by Marc Sijan

- Time-Based "Your Move?" by Robert Shangle

- Installation: "Intersections," by Anila Quayyum Agha