DeWitt Godfrey, W/Field Workshop, Christopher Schardt and FriendsWithYou were awarded a total of $55,000 in ArtPrize Featured Public Project grants—sponsored by the Frey Foundation and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.—to bring their ambitious, large-scale public art installations to downtown Grand Rapids for ArtPrize Eight.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (SEPTEMBER 7, 2016) --  ArtPrize, the radically open international art competition decided equally by public vote and expert jury, today announced the four internationally-renowned artists—including DeWitt Godfrey, W/Field Workshop, Christopher Schardt, and FriendsWithYou—to be awarded $55,000 in grants through the inaugural ArtPrize Featured Public Projects program, sponsored by the Frey Foundation and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. All four projects will be in the running for the $500,000 in public vote and juried prizes to be awarded at ArtPrize Eight, slated to take place from September 21–October 9, 2016.

The four inaugural Featured Public Projects will be installed at Vandenberg (Calder) Plaza, Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the Grand River, and the Gillett Bridge—prominent outdoor spaces within the ArtPrize district. ArtPrize issued an open call in February 2016, accepting project ideas from artists from around the world. The submissions were reviewed by the ArtPrize Arts Advisory Council and staff, who evaluated the artists’ previous experience and understanding of large-scale art projects, including time, budget and feasibility. Ultimately, one project was selected for each space and awarded a $10,000–$15,000 grant. In addition to the grants, selected artists received supplies and services from sponsoring construction, shipping, and engineering firms to help offset the cost of bringing their ambitious projects to Grand Rapids.

DeWitt Godfrey, Professor of Art and Art History at Colgate University in Upstate New York, received a $15,000 grant to install Louisa large 3-D sculpture made of weathering steel and bolts—at Vandenberg (Calder) Plaza. This site-specific steel sculpture is informed by the scale of La Grande Vitesse and the Kent County Building, and ArtPrize Eight visitors will be able to enter the structure. Godfrey completed his undergraduate work at Yale University and received his MFA from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Godfrey creates awe-inspiring steel sculptures, and is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships.

Sarah West and Christopher Field, the duo behind W/Field Workshop, will use their backgrounds in architecture, public art, and digital technologies to create their ArtPrize Eight entry, As I went over the water, the water went over me. The installation, which received a $10,000 grant, will be displayed at Gillett Bridge. This installation will create a physical experience for ArtPrize Eight visitors—as wooden forms mimic a partially submerged creature, and individually controlled LED flood lights create the impression that sculpture is breathing. W/Field Workshop has produced public projects similar in numerous cities across the country including Nashville, Boston and Minneapolis.

The Oakland-based sculptor and former computer programmer, Christopher Schardt, was the recipient of a $15,000 ArtPrize Featured Public Project grant and will install Light Ripples, an underwater LED sculpture featuring over 12,000 points of light, in the Grand River. The installation will project images from nature, the cosmos, and computer algorithms. Schardt has been a regular artist featured at Burning Man for nearly two decades, where his love of experiential installations led him to create LED Lab, the most widely-used LED-controller iPad app.

Ah-Nab-Awen Park will feature the work of Los Angeles-based collaborators Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, together known as FriendsWithYou. Aiming to activate feelings of joy and connectedness, FriendsWithYou received a $15,000 grant to realize the inflatable sculpture, Light Cave originally co-produced by Art Production Fund and The Standard Hotels. It's the largest stand-alone sculpture by FriendsWithYou to date, which pulsates with energy and light. Light Cave—a living, breathing piece of architecture—will create a sensory-rich experience that will unify visitors under its canopy. Borkson and Sandoval have worked together since 2002 in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, large-scale experiential installations, live performances, and more recently, virtual reality and animation. FriendsWithYou’s work has been exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo; Art Basel in Miami Beach, Dallas Contemporary; Galerie Perrotin, New York; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; The High Line, New York; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; Marine Projects, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; and most recently at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. FriendsWithYou works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Goldman Family Collection, and Montblanc Collection, amongst others.

ArtPrize Featured Public Projects is part of a suite of ArtPrize granting programs totaling over $270,000 in 2016. ArtPrize Eight will once again transform three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids into an open playing field where 1,453 entries at 170 venues will vie for a combination of public vote and juried awards totalling $500,000 in prizes, September 21 to October 9.

By Jaenell Woods on