The first week of ArtPrize 201`4 has now gone by. I have spoken with countless people at my venue which is UICA this year. I have been so pleased by the thoughtful questions people ask and the many passionate responses to just being in front of the painting itself. After 8 months of working on this piece (mostly alone in the studio) it is a satisfying reward to watch people come in front of the painting and just take it in.
I was speaking to a class of middle school students in East Grand Rapids yesterday. I asked them the question, "What is it that artists do any way?" A few hands went up and the boy I called on with braces and glasses under blond bangs said with the intonation of a question, "to inspire us?" I think he is right. I am reminded that the word inspiration is related to the word expire which is basically death. To inspire, to breath in an idea, to feel renewal, to become more alive and responsive....this is what art does for us.
I am so thankful for the way our community has embraced ArtPrize with so much enthusiasm and dedication. It is my belief that our city is becoming more alive as a result. So many artists have worked so hard for so long. So many people at the venues, both paid staff and the many, many volunteers have worked so hard. All this effort and generous giving is helping the city to become a place where people are training themselves to think beneath the surface of life, down into deeper meanings and motivations. We are developing a richer vocabulary of expression as we struggle to understand the many different artistic expressions that we are inundated with each year through this very powerful and unusual event called ArtPrize.