Art can take shape in so many forms and sizes. From a single photo on a gallery wall to gigantic structures submerged in the Grand River, every piece of art is beautiful in its own way.

How do we categorize art that is so different from one another? Here at ArtPrize, we’ve chosen to sort artists’ entries by these four types: Two-Dimensional (2-D), Three-Dimensional (3-D), Time-Based, and Installation. 

When an artist is registering their artwork for the ArtPrize competition, they select which category they think their artwork fits into. Our Exhibitions team checks the entries in each category to ensure the definitions below are being used consistently.

What are the definitions of these art categories? Here is how ArtPrize defines each type:

  • Two-Dimensional (2-D) — Entries that exist primarily on a flat plane. Painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, and most textiles are examples of 2-D work.
  • Three-Dimensional (3-D) — Entries that occupy space and are intended to be viewed from multiple angles. Sculptures that are not site-specific belong in the 3-D category.
  • Time-Based — Entries that are durational and change over time. The viewer has to spend some time with the work to fully view it. This includes performance, video and film, dance, music, and interactive work.
  • Installation — Entries that are dependent on the site in which they are installed. The location is not a neutral ground, but makes up an important ingredient of the work. Installation is different from 3-D in that changing the location of the piece would dramatically change the work.

Sometimes a piece of art can fit into more than one category. Imagine a mural that the artist is painting live throughout the competition that takes up an entire wall. This could be considered 2-D or Time-Based. Art is open to interpretation and does not have to fit perfectly into a category to be complete. This flexibility makes categorizing art both imperfect and thought-provoking. 

Upon reviewing an entry during the registration period, sometimes the Exhibitions team will move it to a different category. Should an artwork fit into more than one category, the team lets the artist decide which category to be in.

Here are some of my favorite entries in each category from recent ArtPrize competitions and Project 1:


Abstract Mural: Expansion by Audrey Ferris (ArtPrize 2017)

El Sueño Americano (The American Dream) by Tom Kiefer (ArtPrize 2017)


Flint by Ti-Rock Moore (ArtPrize 2017)

108 Death Masks: A Communal Prayer for Peace and Justice by Nikesha Breeze (ArtPrize 2018)


Red Dirt Rug Monument by Rena Detrixhe (ArtPrize 2017)

Animal Land: ArtPrize 10 by Kendra Sollars and Lauren Strohacker (ArtPrize 2018)


State of Exception by Richard Barnes, Amanda Krugliak, and Jason De León (ArtPrize 2015)

Kaleidoscopic by Amanda Browder (Project 1: Crossed Lines)

Did you know that you can explore past ArtPrize entries by category? Search through artwork from the 2018 event to investigate tons of entries in each of these forms.

  1. Click on Find Art.
  2. Select 2018 to explore the entries from our tenth event.
  3. To view entries of a specific type, click on Sort Filters and select which category you’d like to focus on.
  4. What are your favorite entries of each type? Show your family what you found and see what their favorite artworks are.

Now that you know the difference between 2-D, 3-D, Time-Based and Installation, make your own artworks of each form using materials you have at home! Send photos of your creations to or share them on social tagging @artprize. We’d love to see your masterpieces!

By Allison Palm on