The eighth annual ArtPrize is currently bringing visitors numbering hundreds of thousands to Grand Rapids. Nearly 1,500 entries are part of this year’s event appearing in 171 venues. Since its inception in 2009, ArtPrize has gained national and international attention from visitors and artists.
Grand Rapids artist Pamela Alderman is no stranger to ArtPrize. She has had an entry each year and has been finalist in four of these competitions. In 2015 her work called Hometown Hero finished in the Top 20 and took 3rd place for Time-based, where the piece changes over time.
Serious Competition, Serious Subject
Pamela Alderman’s previous ArtPrize entries have been a reflection on topics which challenge and change people’s lives. Including cancer, sex trafficking, rape, wishes and prayers for children, and honoring hometown heroes, her pieces often include visitor interaction. This hands-on experience helps promote healing and knowledge through art. Her work has touched a countless number of people. This year her piece titled Color Me Orange – Color Me Kind has already been voted into the Top 100 Time-based.
“The interactive work highlights anti-bullying and invites visitors to counteract bullying, whenever possible, with kindness.”, says Alderman. Visitors are asked to tie one of 50,000 orange ribbons to a mesh canvas as a way to show support for anti-bullying and promote kindness in addition to leaving their mark in ArtPrize. “To date, 22,000 ribbons have been incorporated within the work as thousands of ArtPrize visitors interact with Color Me Orange – Color Me Kind.”
The idea that kindness brings out good in people promotes positive interactions. If a bully receives kindness as a response to his or her actions it’s difficult to continue negativity. “The paintings of the koi fish swimming against the strong currents in Color Me Orange – Color Me Kind depicts our struggles with difficult relationships. No one is immune from hate.”, explains Pamela when describing her latest entry. “The words ‘Stop bullying’ don’t cause change. But words like ‘Be kind’ empower us to bring out the best in others. Deliberate small acts of kindness—like encouragement, forgiveness, and love—display strength.” She has been inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. who looked for positive ways to overcome adversity rather than exchanging in continued negativity.
Participation Leads to Learning
Color Me Orange – Color Me Kind is more than just a work looking to heal through art. It’s not just an ArtPrize entry where the public can interact. It has also been an avenue for local Girl Scout Troops, be part of ArtPrize, and promote a message. A total of 15 committed Girl Scout Troops, each with up to eight girls participating, signed up to hand out ribbons to visitors.
Lowell was able to contribute by volunteering this past Saturday and Sunday. Troop #4129 is composed of fifth grade Girl Scout Juniors from Cherry Creek Elementary. Troop Leader Amanda Rogers says, “…Pamela Alderman was inviting area girl scout troops to participate with her installation which encourages everyone to live by the golden rule and treat everyone with kindness.” Rogers read about the opportunity in a Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore newsletter and signed up for a two and a half hour block before all of the time slots were taken. Troop #3986 is made up of Lowell sixth grade cadetttes who also signed up for a block of time. Troop Leader Jodi Socall expressed, “On the way home, we asked the girls if they had the chance would they do it again. Answer: YES!” Members of Troop #3986 also learned when asking people to participate by adding a ribbon not everyone said “yes”.
Artist Pamela Alderman took the time to speak with the Troops about her piece, why public interaction was important, and how the girls should handle visitors. “This gave the girls an opportunity to learn how to appropriately approach adults, explain the installation, and invite them to participate. For 10 year olds that requires both bravery and articulation. And they were wonderful at it. They get to have a similar interaction with adults selling cookies, but this took it to another level.” proudly states of her girls. Scouts starting their first year to a veteran with six years, Haleigh Stickney, Sophia Dommer, Kenzie Wyant, Emma Boston, Isabella Kuntz, Katie Rogers, Melanie Wade, and Molly Wade of Troop #4129 participated. Haleigh Stickney, in her sixth year as a Girl Scout, told us, “I thought it was cool to hand out ribbons and participate in Art Prize.” Her fellow Troop members agree.
Movement Toward Healing
It’s not uncommon for a smell, song, or piece of art to remind you of something whether it’s good or bad. Color Me Orange – Color Me Kind hopes to also move people toward healing. Those who have been bullied can see ribbons representing others who stand by them. Those who have not been part of bullying are made aware of how kindness is stronger than negativity and contribute to that cause. Visit Pamela’s ArtPrize page to learn more about her entry this year.
Big Hearts at a Young Age
Many of the Girl Scout Troops did not want to leave the installation when their time was up because they were enjoying themselves. Whether they realized it or not they were also learning and teaching in addition to having fun. Those attending a school in the Lowell School District who are interested in joining a Girl Scout Troop are welcome to attend a recruitment night. The event is at Alto Elementary on Thursday, October 6 at 7pm. If you’re unable to attend but would like more information about joining a Troop or have questions you can contact Amanda Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Rogers.