Thursday, September 24, 2009

more kids needs a "favorite" artist - ArtPrize

New York artist Jason Hackenwerth and his installation at UICA. My story begins below.
I'm extremely lucky to be shooting a ton for the good folks at ArtPrize over the next 2 weeks. Some of the work I produce will be rather elaborate shoots with complicated lighting set-ups, and some projects will be beautifully simple and small.

I dashed out of the door this morning in a tired fog...needing coffee after a late night...I was frankly ready to run through the motions of a simple assignment of documenting UICA's ArtPrize educational outreach efforts to area high school students.

But as I started to photograph I was jolted by the palpable excitement in the air and started to listen to what the kids were saying and also what was being said to them.

Balloon artist Jason Hackenwerth gave a talk in the UICA auditorium about his work...a pretty standard artist talk by an energetic artist...but the poignant moment for me was blatantly unintended. It went something like this:
Jason: Who can tell me who their favorite artist is?
Audience: (silence)
Jason: Anyone?... Anyone?...Name your favorite artist...
Audience: (uncomfortable silence)
Jason: "Really? No one can name their favorite artist?"
Girl in 3rd row: "I like Picasso."

I felt frustrated by the lack of answers...and actually a little deflated in the afterglow of the explosion of ArtPrize celebrations last night. But then it hit me:

After ArtPrize is done turning Grand Rapids upside down...every kid in that audience will be able to answer Jason's fundamental question of "who is your favorite artist?" It might not be Jason's work...I'm not advocating or promoting his work in that sense (although he's amazing). But those kids will be inspired by SOMEONE here exhibiting in Grand Rapids...and that's terribly exciting and potentially life altering for some young lives that explore what is offered at ArtPrize over the next 2 weeks

How many kids and young adults might be inspired to explore a career in the arts as a result of ArtPrize?

1 comment:

Kathryn Chaplow said...

This is one of the most exciting bits I have read about ArtPrize. What a great story that might have otherwise gone untold. The creative empowerment generated by this event is as good as the art.