ArtPrize is one of the world’s largest art competitions. Located in Grand Rapids, the show runs Sept. 14-Oct. 1. From inside coffee shops to hotel lobbies to outdoor spaces, a wide range of art showcases the talents of artists from around the world. Attendees can even vote for their favorites. Here are insights from three ArtPrize artists who put the Great Lakes in the spotlight.
Nick Irwin: Photographer
“Dream in Reality
Talented photographer Nick Irwin is showing his work for the fifth time in ArtPrize. His entry, “Dream in Reality,” makes you feel as if you are walking into a dream. Little Sable Point Lighthouse, south of Pentwater, in Mears, takes center stage with a backdrop of the northern lights. Shot in February, Irwin got more than he predicted. “I don’t ever expect to see them (northern lights) and when I do, I consider it a bonus,” Irwin says. They’re muted, especially in Michigan, but Irwin knows the camera sees more than we do.
The photographer doesn’t like the term “lucky.” His favorite quote is, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” And he knows this to be true. Tracking weather and star visibility isn’t a perfect science. “When I’m under the stars, I feel like I’m already winning,” Irwin says. And we get to be the recipients of his gift, awestruck by the star-filled skies and iconic Michigan moments that feel like a dream.
Irwin’s photograph can be seen at the JW Marriott.
Rachael Hull: Painter, Acrylic
Painter Rachael Hull’s work, “Ephemeral,” was inspired by photographs she took of the channel connecting Lake Macatawa (in Ottawa County) to Lake Michigan. To capture the glistening light on the water, Hull used neon colors as base layers. When she added white, it popped.
Hull, a mother to two young children, is an acrylic painter out of necessity. With a humble home studio, she found the drying time of oils to be unrealistic amid mothering. Perhaps it’s the blink-and-you-miss-it element of parenting that has allowed Hull to tune into nature’s fleeting moments. She ponders the meaning of water to her. “It’s so hard to put into words, which I think is why I paint it … There’s something that feels like home to me.”
Hull’s painting can be found at CityFlatsHotel.
Birgit Zipser: Painter, Oil
“Capering Along the Shore”
Birgit Zipser is a self-taught painter who grew up in post-war Germany. A professor at Michigan State University for years, she began oil painting later in life. Her unique perspective and celebration of life is evident in the movement of her subjects. Zipser’s entry, “Capering Along the Shore,” has a dual meaning. “The surface interpretation suggests a scene of joy and tranquility … However, the additional meaning of the woman’s recovery … adds another dimension … It’s a metaphor for the human spirit’s ability to strive for recovery and renewal even in the face of adversity.”
Zipser grew up on the North Sea and still has an affinity for water, residing today near the shores of Lake Michigan. Having been a witness to the rebuilding of Germany and the remnants of war, she is amazed at the quiet beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes. “Nobody violated the Earth,” Zipser says. It is through her own resilience that she captures the intersection of strength and beauty.
Zipser’s painting can be found at the B.O.B.
For more information on ArtPrize, visit artprize.org.