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Intersection of habitats

By Judith Malcolm

“Spring-Back,” by Assistant Professor of Architecture Steven Mankouche and Lecturers Joshua Bard and Matthew Schulte.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For a complete listing of U-M Art& Design faculty, alums and students with work in this year’s ArtPrize, please visit: U-M ArtPrize Participants

“Spring-Back,” entered by Assistant Professor of Architecture Steven Mankouche and Lecturers Joshua Bard and Matthew Schulte, was voted among the top 100 exhibit  out of 1,713 entries. For more information on the piece, visit Taubman College.

The innovative and experimental ArtPrize competition is underway, and again, generating widespread discussion about the connection among artists, art and community.

"HOME," an interactive, outdoor installation by Tracy Ginsberg and Theodore Lillie.

“HOME,” an interactive, outdoor installation by Tracy Ginsberg and Theodore Lillie.

Taking place in Grand Rapids through Oct. 10, this year’s competition features the work of two University of Michigan alums, Tracy Ginsberg and Theodore Lillie. The pair has created a piece entitled, “Home,” an interactive, outdoor installation that explores the intersection of human and natural habitats. The intriguing work invites people to step into a 12 ft tall, 15ft wide, two-ton owl’s nest. The multidisciplinary installation combines interactive sculpture, large-scale photography, reclaimed redwood, video projections and an original score.

Tracy Ginsbery

Tracy Ginsbery

Ginsberg and Lillie, who reside in the San Francisco Bay area, will  will conduct an artist talk 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Van Andel Institute, 333 Bostwick Avenue, Grand Rapids. The Van Andel Institute’s mission is focused on science, education, research and healing mirror inspirational and medicinal elements found within nature.

ArtPrize began last year. The annual competition is the brainchild of Rick DeVos. It comes at a time when art sales are down and attendance at museums and art fairs around the country is steadily decreasing. Open to artists 18 years old and older working in any type of artistic medium, ArtPrize offers the largest award in the world at $250,000. About $200,000 is divided among nine other artists. The competition is determined by popular vote. In many instances, the city of Grand Rapids provides public space for the art to be displayed.

Immersing viewers in a dense forest environment, Ginsberg and Lillie’s creation incorporates a giant redwood chimney nest, videos of spotted owls projected onto building walls and a participatory sound component mixing viewers’ voices, owl hoots and sampled music. Constructed of photographs mounted to eco-plast material, redwood bark, reclaimed old-growth redwood over 2000 years old, recycled scaffolding and plywood, the sculpture’s interior communal space holds up to 15 people and is accessible via ship ladder.

Centered within the redwood nest, 5ft above ground, the open-air room includes a panoramic photomural of an old growth redwood rainforest, reclaimed redwood floors and circular bench. Whether perched inside the nest or standing within the installation, viewers are surrounded by multiple video projections of trees and spotted owls in their natural habitat. Ginsberg and Lillie have filmed this spotted owl family over the past three years. Their videos bathe the VAI site and can be seen from a distance day and night.

A video still from "HOME."

A video still from “HOME.”

Because ancient redwoods and spotted owls claim special significance within human experience, they highlight the sacred beauty of the natural world, where dwindling resources and species continuity depend on human stewardship. Whether endangered spotted owls in a disappearing redwood forest, communities in the Gulf of Mexico or whales in the Antarctic Ocean, survival necessitates preserving home and all it entails- shelter, safety, nourishment, family.

Ginsberg was born in Ann Arbor and her mother and grandmother are Grand Rapids natives. She received her BA ’93 in English Literature, and was a contributing writer to The Michigan Daily. Ginsberg and Lillie are also graduates of the San Francisco Art Institute, Ginsberg BFA ’96 and Lillie BFA ‘97. They have been working together for eight years at Fulcrum Projects, a multidisciplinary live art company exploring shifting paradigms in consciousness and culture.

U-M Doc’s art in ArtPrize

Artwork created by David D. Howell, M.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School and medical director of radiation oncology at the Norval K. Morey Cancer Center in Mt. Pleasant, part of the U-M Radiation Oncology Network, is also displayed at ArtPrize.

For more information on Howell’s work, please click here: David Howell’s work in ArtPrize.

To vote and more on the exhibit: