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Grand Rapids Art Museum presents 16 artists during ArtPrize Nine
Chris Vitiello (American, b. 1969), The Language is Asleep, 2017. Performance and installation. Courtesy of the Artist.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.- The Grand Rapids Art Museum is presenting works by 16 artists participating in ArtPrize Nine. The exhibition showcases a broad range of contemporary art from local, regional, national, and international artists—competing in every ArtPrize category—2D, 3D, Time-based, and Installation. The presentation is on view at GRAM from September 13 - October 8, 2017.

"Honoring the Grand Rapids Museum’s commitment to present a diverse selection of artists year-round, the artists represented during ArtPrize Nine come from a variety of backgrounds, working in mediums ranging from painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography, drawing, and performance,” commented GRAM’s Chief Curator Ron Platt. “Additionally, the Museum is proud to feature the work of four Michigan artists during ArtPrize Nine at GRAM—three of whom are based here in Grand Rapids."

Several themes can be found within the artwork on view—Durham, North Carolina artist Chris Vitiello uses poetry and performance to explore the limits of communication, Baltimore-based Amy Helminiak explores these obstacles through emoji-inspired symbols. Other artists, like Grand Rapids-based artist Hwa-Jeen Na, explore approaches to representing personal identity.

Visitors will find work that comments on humankind’s relationship to our ever-changing environment and the ability of art to convey meaning.

New this year is the Museum’s participation in Pitch Night, an ArtPrize program through which participants in select cities compete for funding and the opportunity to exhibit their art at a high-profile venue. Chris Vitiello, winner of Pitch Night Durham, transformed one of GRAM’s galleries into a surreal, interactive environment with his time-based performance The Language is Asleep. Vitiello is on-site for the duration of ArtPrize, writing and handing out one-line poems and occasionally transforming into the Poetry Fox, a giant fox who turns out custom, on-demand poems on his vintage typewriter.

"Vitiello’s work challenges viewers to think about the limits of language," added GRAM's Curatorial Assistant Jen Wcisel. "Has language been so misused and abused that it is losing its ability to convey meaning? It’s a somber premise, which Vitiello presents in an engaging and interactive way. The Grand Rapids Art Museum has never included a live performance in an ArtPrize exhibition, and I’m looking forward to the energy and excitement he will bring to the galleries."

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