ArtPrize Statement on DisArt’s Disability Drag Show and Drag Syndrome

Last week ArtPrize announced the community events scheduled to take place during Project 1 on September 7 through October 27. There are a multitude of performances, talks, and celebrations happening across Project 1 locations around Grand Rapids, but one event in particular has generated a lot of questions and even some controversy. 

Drag Syndrome is part of a UK-based experimental dance company established in 2010 that invites audiences to experience drag and disability together, creating a new form of Disability performance. The artists participating in Drag Syndrome are adults who have chosen this as their form of artistic expression and have been touring Europe for the last year. Drag Syndrome has captured attention and accolades from audiences and art critics alike, most recently at Tate Modern.

This group was invited and funded by DisArt, an arts organization based in Grand Rapids that advocates for disabled contemporary artists, to be a part of the community event schedule taking place during Project 1 to recognize artists with disabilities. Over the years, DisArt’s contributions to ArtPrize have included work by acclaimed artists both within Grand Rapids and internationally. 

Alongside a great deal of positive response, the news of Drag Syndrome’s participation has recently motivated groups to coordinate a campaign of communications calling for their performance to be canceled.

The ArtPrize organization has always supported free artistic expression by all participants and has not denied or screened individuals. Consistent with this, we believe it would be inappropriate to limit the participation of performers who have Down syndrome.

We are excited to host the many diverse artists and performers from the community participating concurrently with Project 1, and appreciate the value DisArt brings to the event alongside the other artists and collaborative groups who have enriched the creative community of Grand Rapids over the last ten years.

DisArt has more information about Drag Syndrome as well as helpful information that addresses the concerns that have arisen around this event. We encourage you to visit their Facebook page.

UPDATE (8/23/19): The property owner of the Tanglefoot Building, where Disability Drag Show was set to take place, has declined to host the performance. DisArt is working to secure a new venue. ArtPrize will provide updates when a new location is set.

Parallel to Crossed Lines, Project 1 by ArtPrize

By George Miguel

What a time to have been a lover of art and granted the opportunity to have a hand in the actualization of Project 1 by ArtPrize! My name is George Miguel, a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University who has run the course of an internship in the Learning and Engagement Department. It was through this position that I was better able to connect and engage with my community. I am fortunate to have joined the ArtPrize team during this exciting time in the endeavor to communicate their message through a new approach that has been carried out through the past 10 competitions. I have searched in a multiplicity of areas since “entering the real world,” and candidly express that it has taken me some time post-graduation to finally say that I belong in the city of Grand Rapids.

“Artists in Project 1: Crossed Lines have been selected because of the way they create more than objects, using public art to question and alter spaces, both physical and social. The way people move through a city—the ways in which people feel as if they do or do not belong—are the result of design decisions as well as policy decisions.”

I have had a front-row seat in beginning to internalize our message and all the work that goes into ArtPrize through the many departments that I’ve seen in action. In particular, the conduit that is the Learning and Engagement Department has demonstrated for me all the work that goes into developing such art events for the world, from the community members to the neighboring nonprofits that have participated thus far in volunteering and helping us to complete Project 1. Our events attract art lovers from around the world! This fact excites and leads me to truly believe that if art or “design decisions” within the transformed urban spaces of Grand Rapids in a way catalyzed euphoric belonging for me—a first-generation-college-graduate and the first of many things in my family—then so it can for others.

For example, something as fundamental as your desired arrangement or new design for your room will not just affect you, but will design you right back! On a larger scale, the design decisions of Project 1 aim to highlight the lines that we wish to cross in this community. Beyond my own experience, this project is able to have a monumental impact if art and message can intertwine successfully for the grand experience to belong.

In retrospect, my time at ArtPrize has been meaningful in clarifying and finding a place in my heart for what we have been trying to communicate. As people we are the sum of our experiences and need Art, it is wonder-full, rich in discovery and the exception of beauty. It has had me think of Picasso’s words, “we all know that art is not truth, art is a lie that makes us realize truth,” when I begin to overthink anything. From milestone to milestone I will continue to pursue the things I love and work parallel to my passions. I am absolutely sure in saying that my time at ArtPrize has fit such a frame.

My name is George Miguel… and I belong in this community.
Me llamo Jorge Miguel y pertenezco a esta comunidad
Jorge Miguel ‘in bi an, Akateko winaj jin’an

For more information on ArtPrize’s internships which are underwritten by Deloitte and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.

ArtPrize Announces Opening Day Celebration Line-Up for Inaugural Project 1 Exhibition

Photo by Kendra Lawson

Public invited to participate in the highly anticipated event
featuring both locally and globally recognized performers and artists.

GRAND RAPIDS,(Michigan) August 8, 2019 — ArtPrize is pleased to announce the Project 1 opening day celebration presented by DTE Foundation happening Sept 7, 2019 at Rosa Parks Circle, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and Tanglefoot. Headlining performances include BANDALOOP, Jordan Hamilton, and the U.S. premiere of Drag Syndrome. Local performers, artist panels and community events will be happening simultaneously at each site location. Join ArtPrize and the City of Grand Rapids for a day of free one-of-a-kind experiences.

Read more “ArtPrize Announces Opening Day Celebration Line-Up for Inaugural Project 1 Exhibition”

Project 1 by ArtPrize Announces New Projects and Commissions for Inaugural Edition

Rendering of Kaleidoscopic by artist Amanda Browder

Project 1: Crossed Lines
September 7 to October 27, 2019
Throughout Grand Rapids, MI

GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) June 17, 2019Project 1 by ArtPrize, the first in a series of multi-sited public art exhibitions taking place in the years between biennial ArtPrize competitions, is pleased to announce the new works and commissions for Project 1: Crossed Lines. Differing from traditional biennials, Project 1 will focus on five artists, each producing large-scale public artworks to enable them to advance their artistic practices. Some of these installations will occupy multiple sites throughout the city, some will function as stages for performing arts and other collaborations, while still others will be geared toward various forms of audience participation. Presented by ArtPrize, Project 1 represents the first in a biennial series of citywide exhibitions of public art taking place in the years between ArtPrize competitions.

Read more “Project 1 by ArtPrize Announces New Projects and Commissions for Inaugural Edition”

How We Chose Sites for Project 1 by ArtPrize

Artist Amanda Browder visiting Tanglefoot in January 2019, then a prospective site for Project 1 by ArtPrize.
Artist Amanda Browder visiting Tanglefoot in January 2019, then a prospective site for Project 1 by ArtPrize.

Last week we announced the three sites that will host large-scale public art installations and performance programming for Project 1: Crossed Lines. A number of pieces will be downtown, in spots that are familiar to ArtPrize visitors. New for Project 1, we’re also placing major installations at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the Southeast side, and the Tanglefoot Building just Southwest of downtown.

In this post I want to give more insight into why we chose the sites we did, and why the method for selecting Project 1 locations was so different from the way it happens for ArtPrize.

Read more “How We Chose Sites for Project 1 by ArtPrize”