A brief and informal statement of intent
The politicized nature of this project specifically and of ArtPrize generally have convinced me that a narrative explanation of my most recent work Seeding might be in order.
The general impetus behind ArtPrize seems inventive and generous. It is clearly reaching a very broad portion of our community who might otherwise not feel as though they have a stake in the visual arts. I am concerned, though, that the support mechanisms that are generally in place for artists participating in events of this scale are not in place for ArtPrize. Assistance with mechanical and logistical concerns such as installation and lighting vary widely based on an artist’s venue. Funding for materials, construction, shipping and installation are entirely the responsibility of the artists. Given the depressed economic climate and the lack of grants to help fund the arts, it is upsetting to think that some artists are spending the equivalent of six mortgage payments on projects that aren’t likely to see any return in prize money. The promise of the big payoff that ArtPrize dangles in front of struggling artists is in some ways not too different than the promise of wealth offered by Amway – elusive to all but a few, and manipulative of many who don’t have the capital or connections to negotiate a better shot at financial stability. My largest concern, however, is that what is innovative and beneficial about ArtPrize will whitewash the more troubling contributions of the DeVos family – this concern is the basis for the Seeding project. In fifty years, the legacy of the DeVos family may be entirely different than what it is today, and ArtPrize may mark the beginning of that divergence, but this project responds to the contemporary situation. Hopefully I’ll have the material to be making an entirely different set of coasters in the coming decades.
Addendum: There are a lot of artists who, if they should win anything, have pledged to donate the prize money. I join them in saying that any prize money I stumble over will go to the Triangle Foundation, and the Grand Rapids Red Project.