ArtPrize® Nine Top 20 Finalists Includes WMU for Outstanding Venue and Pitch Night Winner Rena Detrixhe

by Tyler Lecceadone
Oct. 4, 2017 | Extended University Programs News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.,—With just two days left until the Ninth Annual ArtPrize® Awards ceremony on Oct. 6, Western Michigan University’s downtown Grand Rapids regional location, curated by WMU instructor of art, Don Desmett, stands as a finalist for the Outstanding Venue Award and “Red Dirt Rug Monument,” which is displayed at WMU is doing well in the public and juried votes.

Pitch Night winner Rena Detrixhe and her 1,000-square-foot “Red Dirt Rug Monument” covers nearly a third of WMU’s fifth floor, and has been placed in the Top 20 for the time-based category by both the jurors and public.

Detrixhe’s “Red Dirt Rug” includes 200 gallons of sifted Oklahoma red dirt that has been imprinted with various patterns from hundreds of tennis shoe soles. It is meant to embody the complicated history of human’s relationship to nature, particularly in the artist’s state of residence, Oklahoma, where human presence has deeply altered the landscape.

The remaining gallery space in WMU’s downtown Grand Rapids building, which has been an ArtPrize® Venue for five consecutive years, highlights the work of 18 artists from the WMU Gwen Frostic School of Art faculty, alumni and students. The careful curation completed by Desmett has created a gallery based on sensibilities and energy, featuring artwork of various themes, including identity, environmental issues and racism.

Desmett was the founding director of exhibitions for the Richmond Center for Visual Arts on WMU's main campus. He retired in 2016 after serving in that role for ten years, and has organized major exhibitions for the Museum for Contemporary Art, Cleveland; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as numerous exhibitions at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art and Tyler School of Art.

Round 2 Voting, presented by Meijer, will close Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:59 p.m. The entry with the most Round 2 votes in each category will win a $12,500 public vote category award. The finalist with the most Round 2 votes overall will be awarded the $200,000 Public Vote Grand Prize.

During the ArtPrize® Awards ceremony, WMU will be presenting the Youth Collaboration Award, a $5,000 cash prize awarded by public vote to any eligible collaborative ArtPrize® entry created by a school or nonprofit educational organization serving students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The University will also present the Juried Two-Dimensional Award.