ArtPrize 7.0

ArtPrize 7.0
Jacob Pierzchala
September 24, 2015
Auralwood ArtPrize Piece

As the seventh year of ArtPrize kicks off, it’s hard for me to contain my excitement. Since the event’s inception, I have participated as both artist and viewer, and I’m always eager to see the streets and businesses of Grand Rapids alive with energy. What started out as a creative, social and financial experiment in 2009 has undoubtedly proved its worth to locals and visitors alike.

Though the event is not without its critics, what I find valuable is the hybrid nature of ArtPrize, which is part democratic contest, part fine art exhibition. Awards are determined both by public vote and by a panel of expert judges (and offer some staggering monetary prizes). This dual nature enables a wide variety of people of varying skill levels and interests to participate in the event. It is by no means a level playing field. Yet this does little to discourage entry. At its heart, the event is a chance for people to tap into their creativity, support their community and come together to experience this strange and wonderful thing we call art.

My personal contribution to this year’s event is a piece titled “Auralwood,” an interactive animation that will be projected outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum (see viewing times below). As suggested by the name, it is a visual representation of a forest – a grove of recursive trees that are impacted by environmental sound. If the surrounding space is quiet, the result will be a lack of on-screen activity. If, on the other hand, a crowd of vocal observers is present, the forest will burst to life with color and motion.

Conceptually, my aim was to focus on the importance of the viewer in public art. Often, I feel, we place so much emphasis on artist or artwork that we forget about the vital role the public plays in the equation, a role that transforms process and object into communication. Events like this, after all, are nothing without people to experience them!

Whether you have yet to experience ArtPrize, or have been to the event consistently over the past six years, come see what this one has to offer. With more than 1,500 works at over 160 venues, there is undoubtedly something for everyone. And a word of advice from an experienced ArtPrizer: Don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path. Some of the smaller venues host some fantastic hidden gems.

Live projections of "Auralwood" can be viewed at the Grand Rapids Public Museum from 6:30–9:00 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Sept. 25–27
  • Oct. 2–4
  • Oct. 9–11

Additionally, an online version of the piece can be found at

You can find out more about my work and the event at