At tonight’s event held at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Nina Caruso and Christopher Schneider took home a $5,000 grant to install a sculpture inspired by their experience at ArtPrize in 2016, at Vandenberg Center in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan during the ninth annual event this fall.

DETROIT (Michigan) JUNE 1, 2017 -- ArtPrize, the independently organized art competition recognized as the world’s largest annual public art event, in collaboration with Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, tonight awarded a $5,000 grant to Nina Caruso and Christopher Schneider for their Pitch Night Detroit-winning entry, ‘Anonymous’. In addition to the grant, Caruso and Schneider earned a guaranteed spot at Vandenberg Center in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize Nine, slated to take place September 21-October 8, 2017. Pitch Night Detroit is sponsored by 21c Museum Hotels and Delta Air Lines, and underwritten by Experience Grand Rapids, with support from the Knight Foundation.

Caruso and Schneider’s work was selected from among five artists that were invited to present at tonight’s Pitch Night event. Each artist was given five minutes and five slides to sell their ambitious, site-specific installation idea to a panel of local arts professionals including: Elysia Borowy-Reeder, Executive Director of MOCAD; Omari Rush, External Relations Director at Ann Arbor Arts Center; Marc Schwartz, art collector; and chair/co-chair of Ponyride, Art Detroit Now, DLECTRICITY & DIA Collections Committee; Gina Reichert, Detroit-based artist and winner of the ArtPrize 2012 Juried Grand Prize through her work with Design 99; and Cezanne Charles, director of creative industries at Creative Many Michigan.

“This piece really was simple, playful, interactive and filled the space with a challenging art that fostered communication,” reflected Charles of the winning piece during tonight’s event.

Caruso and Schneider, both artists and teachers, drew inspiration for ‘Anonymous’ from their experience at the ArtPrize event in 2016 -- and the entry ‘Hybrid Structures’ installed at SiTE:LAB | The Rumsey Street Project. A series of ramps traversed and connected abandoned buildings on the site, providing accessible exploration throughout. Caruso and Schneider, while traversing the ramps, started playing with the structure’s railings -- experimenting with speaking through them. They were struck by how well the sound travelled through the pipes and afterwards decided to build on that phenomena for a community engagement artwork. They started experimenting with metal pipes, twisting and bending them -- ultimately finding that sound continued to travel well.

“We wanted to find a way to communicate with people so that you could be somewhat anonymous but also present, the person you’re talking to is there,” said Schneider. “Ultimately we’re looking at what ArtPrize does successfully -- making it accessible to the public, inviting everyone to come in and participate -- and building on that.”

Part sculpture, part social experiment, the medium for ‘Anonymous’ will be four lengths of metal pipe, jumbled and twisted into a freestanding, three-dimensional sculpture roughly twenty feet long and ten feet tall. Each of the eight pipe ends will be capped with a funnel-like piece, through which ArtPrize goers are invited to speak or to listen.

“When you talk into one end, you won’t know who’s on the other end hearing what you’re saying. It could be the person right next to you, it could be the person across the way,” continued Schneider. “We see this as a social experiment -- to see what people will say in such a context, where you have some anonymity. Maybe something enlightening, uplifting, funny, challenging, silly or heartfelt.”

ArtPrize Pitch Night launched in 2013 as a means of discovering and supporting ambitious, exciting projects and to reduce the barriers to bringing them to the annual competition. Since its inception, the Pitch Night program has continued to expand and in 2016 includes events in six cities across the country. 21c Museum Hotels will host three events -- in Louisville, KY on May 15; in Durham, NC on May 17; and in Bentonville, AR on May 22. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit hosted tonight’s event; the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans will host on June 5; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art on June 8. Each event will award the winning artist $5,000 and a spot in a prominent ArtPrize venue during the eighth annual event.

ArtPrize Nine will take place across downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 20-October 8, 2017. Artist registration for the world’s largest art competition is now open through June 8.

By Jaenell Woods on