(Sorry, I got a bit verbose here. Please scroll down for the images.)
A new competition was recently announced called Artprize. This offers the world's largest art prize of $250,000 for the top winner. It happens to be taking place in my home town, Grand Rapids, MI near where I live today. It's a bit different from other competitions in that the art will be displayed in venues all over the downtown area. Also, the awards will all be determined by people's choice. That's right anybody who is in, or travels to, Grand Rapids during the event can register to vote. Who ever gets the most votes wins. Voting starts on September 23, 2009 and goes through October 8th when the winner will be announced. It should be quite interesting. For more information about this you can go to the Artprize website, www.artprize.org
Many people have been asking me where the voting registration stations will be. There are quite a few to list so I'll provide a link to that part of the Artprize website. Click here for that information. It looks like the closest site to LaFontsee Galleries is the Grand Rapids Symphony at 300 Ottawa NW, suite 100. I admit I'm not too familiar with just where this is. I may end up going to the Main Branch of the public library at 111 Library NE since I know where that is and I believe they offer free parking for the first hour (or something like that.) More information about the event and voting can be found on my site HERE.
I decided this was worth trying for as the second and third place awards are $100,000 and $50,000 respectively. I've also taken this as a challenge to push my work into a new realm, to try and do something that will catch the attention of not only those who are unfamiliar with my work, but also those who are.
I've said in one of the versions of my artist statement that "this is work about things I treasure; the natural, sensual world, skilled labor, timeless beauty, and the inner spirit made visible." I feel this describes my work well, but can I make a piece that fits these criteria even more? In this album you will find images documenting my attempt to do so with a vessel I am calling "Enlightenment".
When I think of the word "treasure" the first thing that comes to my mind is gold. The two terms just go together. So I'm making this piece out of a sheet of 22-karat gold and of course a 22-karat gold wire for the rim. It will easily be the most costly piece I've made to date, but I've been wanting to raise a vessel from gold for some time now so I'm going for it.
I feel the design I've chosen will reference the natural, sensual world, though not in a direct literal way. I'll be using a new texture/pattern on the piece first inspired by close up images of sunspots on our sun. As I was working with this pattern on one of my regular vessels to see if I liked it the design quickly morphed into something more reminiscent of the crystallizing patterns of frost on a window. For further appeal to our sensual, tactile nature, the gold is much more dense than the copper I usually use for vessels. This means the piece has a much more substantial weight. I'm really liking it!
Naturally I don't intend to give up on skilled labor when making this piece. In fact, the preciousness of the materials inspires me to take even more care than normal in it's crafting. I'm not used to working in gold on this scale so it is pushing my skills in new directions.
Timeless beauty is something I'm always striving for. What was considered beautiful a thousand years ago, is still beautiful today, and will be recognized as beautiful a thousand years from now? Whatever that might be is something that surely connects deeply with what it is to be human. Looking at the relics of our ancient past to the present day, gold wrought objects seem to be strong contenders.
Finally there is "the inner spirit made visible". I've often seen my vessels as metaphors for individuals in some sense. Each is unique with their own character. Common to them all is this earthy exterior shell or body housing the soul or this inner being of light. When I thought of how I would represent someone who has learned to let this inner light shine through clearly and touch us all, an enlightened being, the solution seemed natural; a vessel made entirely of gold. It is an all too rare and precious thing of beauty. This is what I hope to achieve. So here are images of my journey into making this piece.
If you like this piece, and will be in the Grand Rapids area during the Artprize competition, I'd certainly appreciate you vote! Thanks.
Oh yea, I should let you know too that during the competition it will be on display at the best gallery in Grand Rapids, LaFontsee Galleries/Underground Studio. They are my regular gallery for this region and have wonderful plans for the display. Be sure to check it out. They're at 820 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids, MI. It's one of the old red brick warehouses right along the Grand River. Their phone number is (616) 451-9820.
Size: 80 items