WIDENING THE SPHERE
If ArtPrize has taught us anything, it’s that these conversations are most productive when they transcend the walls of the gallery and enter the public sphere. So when Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) The Fed Galleries @ KCAD began planning an exhibition for ArtPrize Eight exploring the concept of sustainability, the college reached out to Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids (Goodwill), an organization that for the past 50 years has been working to transform lives and communities in pursuit of a more sustainable future.
Since its inception in 2009, ArtPrize has welcomed anyone and everyone into the conversation about what art is and why it matters. And while that conversation evolves, one thing is certain: art is an undeniably powerful platform for dissecting and engaging critically with important contemporary issues.
“What began as thinking about ways we could collaborate with Goodwill on an exhibition quickly evolved into a multifaceted strategy to invite ArtPrize viewers to be a part of a conversation about the opportunities for sustainable living that exist all around us,” says KCAD Curator of Exhibitions Michele Bosak. “From our common understanding of the importance of sustainability, we found that merging our strengths in curating, presenting, and talking about art with Goodwill’s strengths in community engagement really opened up a lot of possibilities.”
By Kyle Austin
In addition to supporting KCAD, Goodwill saw the collaboration as an opportunity to raise awareness about its mission. “Collaborating with KCAD for ArtPrize Eight was an amazing experience. Their exhibition and programming aligned with our efforts to have a positive impact on our environment through reusing, reducing, and recycling, as well as using revenue from our stores to provide free job training and placement services that help sustain the local workforce,” says Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Jill Wallace. The centerpiece of the collaboration was the RE• exhibition inside The Fed Galleries @ KCAD. The exhibition united a group of 11 acclaimed local, national, and international artists who consider the timely issues of environmental and social responsibility within their work. “We took care to seek out artists who promote positive social change, action, and accountability through immersive viewing experiences,” says Bosak. “We wanted visitors to our space to continue engaging with the questions that arose as they viewed the work long after ArtPrize was over.” Goodwill responded to the exhibition’s theme by providing artists access to donated materials free of charge. “The idea of Goodwill donations taking on a new life as artworks that speak to the issues of sustainability was very appealing to us,” says Wallace. Many of the artists, including New York City-based artist Lina Puerta, reclaimed discarded materials to create pieces that grapple with human patterns of production and consumption. Puerta’s piece “Traces” transformed found materials into a layered depiction of the intersection of the human-made and natural worlds.
“Traces” by Lina Puerta. Puerta was a featured artist in KCAD’s ArtPrize Eight exhibition RE• who won the inaugural Sustainable Art Award created by KCAD with support from Cascade Engineering.
KCAD PORTFOLIO | WINTER 2017
Similarly, South Carolina-based artist Daniel Bare’s vast installation “Cumulus” recast discarded materials as a fossilized monument to both humankind’s ability to produce such a wide-ranging array of