Project 1 scatters downtown Grand Rapids with art

Sophie Mustert, Web Editor

If you live in Grand Rapids, you know about the biennial tradition of ArtPrize. During ArtPrize, downtown Grand Rapids is scattered with different art pieces made from all types of mediums. 


The project is a series of citywide art submissions from local artists, but now there has been a change of format. This new art exhibition invites all people to participate in a citywide conversation about what it means to belong to something. Project 1 and ArtPrize will alternate years in the future. 


Project 1 is the next evolution of ArtPrize, and it consists of public art exhibitions that transform public spaces. There are five artists from around the world that have been commissioned to create sculptures, performances, interventions and installations. These projects are community oriented and will be placed throughout the city during the fall. These spaces are being remade by artists to explore how the city is made. These art pieces promote cultural understanding and encourage all artists to be celebrated. 


“I think they could combine ArtPrize and Project 1.” Said Jordan Plumstead ‘20. “If we merged them together the community would have a choice to experience street art in all areas of Grand Rapids. It would bring in more people to different areas, like Martin Luther King Jr. Park.”


Each art piece has a unifying theme. The idea of community and unifying grand rapids is the main inspiration for all of the art work. For example, the artist Heather Hart created the Oracle of the Soulmates. This specific installation was a creation of submerged rooftops, with wooden shingles and windows. The rooftop of the building represents home, stability, and shelter for the community. The artist herself speaks about the rooftops as a threshold connecting the public and the private. Her building has railings connected so people can easily walk up and down the roof. There are performances held on the rooftop, which serves as a stage.  


“This is for people to live under when its raining.” said David Bryant, a downtown resident. “A place for all types of people to hangout.” 


Olalekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian born artist and architect, based in Brooklyn, New York. His art focuses on the past and potential future of urban and city environments. He created The Boom and the Bust, which is a sculpture referencing the challenges of housing and discrimination in urban life. The sculpture is on the corner of Louis St and Monroe Ave in downtown Grand Rapids, and stands 25-feet tall. The sculpture juxtaposes foreclosure and displacement with the colossal downtown developments. 


On October 26, the Project 1 closing celebration will take place at 7pm at Studio Park.  There is no ticket necessary, Make sure to visit if you want to learn more about the upcoming changes for ArtPrize 2020.