ArtPrize Nine 2017

The Grand Rapids Public Museum curates a rewarding experience with great, approachable art that is intriguing, distinctive and engages the viewer’s capacity for awe, curiosity, and a sense of humor. With our location and unique resources, we are able to offer a not-to-be-missed immersive experience.

The GRPM has a prime location, in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, situated on the banks of the Grand River. This location is accessible and walkable from many other ArtPrize venues. The GRPM will host an outdoor exhibition in which the artwork will visually lend itself to the setting of the Museum grounds and offer hands-on educational opportunities.

Food carts will be stationed accordingly to make it easy for visitors to grab a quick bite or beverage while on the move.

ArtPrize merchandise is available in the Museum’s Curiosity Shop!


Scott Brazeau – Mother Earth

Mother Earth is made out of fabricated steel sticks with copper accents. Standing 12 feet tall, this sculpture represents Earth and the strength of women.




James Bursma – Retro-Concept Radical Car

This 1978 Dodge Magnum was designed 27 years ago and completed 2016.  It was been awarded a display in the Kalvalcade of Kustoms at the 2017 Detroit Auto Rama at Cobo Hall. At first glance the common expression is “what is that”. Very few can guess the make and model of this car. At 45″ tall it is a real low rider. The body is completely formed, consisting of only four pieces including the 2 doors and the hood. The interior features real Zebra wood, both front seats slide out and turn 180 degrees so you can watch the drop down TV between the rear seats. Finished in a flawless attention grabbing Tahitian Green Pearl finish.


Bird Clarkson – The Pursuit of Ahhwesomeness Presents: PuRe MiCHiMaGiNaTioN





Amanda Dow Thompson – Role Play

Role Play is a triptych, a work of art sectioned into three parts, that have been hand carved from a single block of wood, then adorned with media usually used in painting. The juxtaposition of the decorative and delicate with the sturdy and robust bewilders visitors. Role Play is more muscular than previous work by this artist. The larger pieces reveal how fragile external form can house internal sinuous, steel. Ultimately, this piece is a tribute to women in all their forms.



Home Eleven – Sticks and Stones Walk

In our current social media climate words have a profound effect. Visitors enter this interactive sculpture and experience duality as either the aggressor or the receiver. The wood structure comprised of stacked cedar wood and bricks with two halls is divided by a wall of tubes, with each path only two feet wide. As you walk in, you choose to remain within allowed space or push the tubes to gain more. However, as you push the tubes in, this same tube extends outward to the visitor on the other path. Midway visitors will encounter an opening, where both sides can see each other. This interaction provides a platform for visitors to discuss how a simple action can have an adverse effect to another person.


Joel Gittrich – Stone Thrones of Ptown

Two stone rocking chairs, framed by stainless steel and covered with stainless steel snakeskin, as the King and Queen’s chairs. Take a seat and rock in these chairs to live like a King and Queen.




Julia Heins – CAPIO

The first man made vessel may have been two cupped hands filled with water. Those two hands might have moved that water from a river or creek to a home in a cave or under a tree. Two hands reached toward earth and lifted water to tongue in order to nourish and give life to body. Hebrew Scriptures teach that God made man, Adam, from clay, and the Hebrew word, “adamah” means “earth.” Instinctively we retreated to our origin, earth, as a life source.  If vessels are containers for life, then our bodies, too, are vessels. What we allow into ourselves and onto ourselves gives shape to our form, constructing our understanding of presence and purpose within a space. Like the first man made vessel, I believe that this understanding grounds us and ultimately takes us Home.


Sarah Herman – Abide

A ancient tribal community hailing from Syria, the Bedouins are some of the most affected refugees by the ongoing war, losing not only their land and livestock but their livelihood. A loyal, interconnected group of people that rely on community, honor and family to exist. The governmental camps set up for escaping refugees do not fit with their nomadic traditions that drives them to move with the rhythm of the agricultural seasons. Sustaining the community by raising livestock, working the land along the camps and coming together as a community ensuring survival despite the loss of their homeland. Food not only provides sustenance but brings us together, forms bonds, defies cultural and language barriers.

Matt Jung – Blown Away

This sculpture will be showcasing a 3D scan out of EPS, covered in polyurea coating.  At 8′ tall., it will be flat black, big, impressive, and look like it is made out of concrete while only weighing 200 lbs. This piece it is directionally about the being a tortured soul. We are blown away by what we see and our words barely even drip out. We are paralyzed. We try to scream but nothing comes out.



Craig Merchant – Safe House

Safe House is a large outdoor art installation constructed with the remnants of old wooden crates dating back to the early to mid-1900s. The entire sculpture is illuminated with purple lights and the viewer is encouraged to walk through the piece. There are kinetic elements that move within the walls and on the ceiling of the artwork. The crates are a metaphor for the barriers we create within ourselves. The walls are broken down and the crate is deconstructed to release whatever may have been held captive on the inside, and then reassembled to create something new. This piece encourages you to look beyond the surface and to allow yourself to truly and freely feel.


Shelley Miller – Sugar Throw-Up






Paul Nilsson – YOGA BUNNY

This 5 foot tall rabbit made of stoneware clay stands on a steel base. The production uses high fire and decorative glazing.




Daniel Oropeza –  Lux Maximas

This is a fusion of glass, copper ,bronze and steel. The structure is sculpted first, then the copper, hand cut, with designs on every piece. The glass is then poured onto the copper, and shaped to fit before it cools. This work has not been done anywhere in the world.



David Robinson – “Interval”

Interval is a sculptural riff on the archaic equestrian hero that so prodigiously populates the language of ‘statuary’ in its historical role as political place-marker. And unseating this self-assured champion is no mean feat; the work’s mimetic feedback – looping between cloned rider and mount – distorts the syntax of this hackneyed idiom into a strangeness from which it does not here recover.




Depicting that moment just before that disambiguation, THE SLEEPING SENTRY is based on the time of guarded inner thoughts that transcend people from when we doze off to our moment of awakening. Made from repurposed material.




Sam Soet – Wooden Objects

Wooden Objects is a large scale installation of ten ancient objects sculpted in ash wood with charred accents. The objects, Slit Drum, Boomerang, Mallet, Cart Wheel, Bowl, Spoon, Mortar & Pestle, Dugout Canoe, Spear Thrower, and Doll, are historical solutions addressing basic needs found in many early cultures. These objects were tools to aid in harvest, preparation and consumption of food, transportation, construction, community and family interaction. In contrast, objects in modern culture are cheap, fast, easily consumed and discarded. Think about the function of objects in the past and how we use objects in the current day.


Dozer Strangway – Dandelion Patch

These two dandelions would be placed approximately 20′ apart, and would be connected by a berm consisting of scrap metal pieces with blue stone placed at intervals. The entire project will be lit from underneath, giving the installation life and glow.



Mike Wsol – Laborer

At a distance, viewers see a large figure carrying a very large load of boxes. Hundreds of small holes pierce the boxes on the figures back. The figure’s body is made of rigid facets of welded metal painted the colors of work clothes. It is hunched, yet strong, in a frozen march carrying the enormous load. The figure’s coat and hood is an empty shell with a large hole passing through the figures back into the load of boxes. You see hand holds, steps, and a platform designed to pass through the figure and step into the boxes. Sunlight illuminates the holes piercing the black interior surface of the boxes to create a planetarium viewers can stand in.