Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Gabe Montesanti Contributor
Twelve Kalamazoo College students traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich. last Saturday for Art Prize, the world’s largest art competition.
The annual event spans the entire city. This year 1,517 entries are in the running for the $200,000 top prize, which will be awarded by public vote.
Studio art department student adviser Keeny Swearer ’13 was largely responsible for the excursion. The department approached him months ago to orchestrate the Art Prize trip, along with a series of art events for students, he said.
“Events like these are especially geared towards first years and sophomores,” Swearer said. “They are meant to create a sense of community.”
Seeing a work of art that originally started as a Senior Individualized Project last year heightened the Art Prize experience for K students. Daedalian Derks ’12 strung his finished art piece, entitled Binary Strip, from the Fine Arts Building last June. He said he spent the summer reconstructing and enlarging the piece.
Students also learned that another exhibit had K connections: “Cities: Departures and Deviation,” comprised of 24 blown-glass forms constructed to show the population changes of major urban cities in the United States. It was created by Norwood Viviano, husband of Associate Professor of Art Sarah Lindley, and placed in the top 25 of all entries.
“It came out of research,” Viviano explained. “Initially I started with Detroit and Flint, the two significant examples in Michigan. I became so interested in industry and its connection to population shift that I wanted to expand on those relationships to other cities.”
Sophia Ernstrom ’16 identified a work entitled “Breathing Room” as her overall favorite at Art Prize. The installation, held in an abandoned room, contained heaps of soap bubbles that would rise and fall as if breathing.
“The Breathing Room widened my perspective on how art can be made,” Ernstrom said. “It was so tranquil and interesting to see how others perceived it.”
Ernstrom said she was delighted that the art department offers such eye-opening events.
“I love how art doesn’t discriminate in the people that it brings. I saw everybody at Art Prize: there were people of every race and class, and that is beautiful to me,” she said.