Category Archives: ArtPrize

Trip Notes on an ArtPrize Journey

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-lots-of-kids-visit      If you’re thinking about ArtPrize 9, I’d like to encourage you to go for it, early-visitors-to-artprizeeven though last Friday marked the end of this year’s ArtPrize 8 adventure for me, and I feel a bit like my husband used to after a camping trip to Disney with our kids when they were young.hanging-the-mural-for-artprize For about the first week, he’d say, “NEVER AGAIN!” But, slowly he’d regain his energy, forget the problems, and remember all the joys on the journey. Within a month or two, he’d be daydreaming about our next big adventure. artprize-8-mural-installed-in-back-lobby-of-holiday-innThis has been my reaction to ArtPrize also. My mural didn’t win any awards, nor did anybody find it an indispensable addition to the decor of their institution.silvio-reinstalling-collagesSo, my trusty builder friend, Silvio, helped me bring all twenty collages home, and he’s hung them up to brighten Tanglewood Cottage. hanging-collages-at-homeThe last time our home decor was updated was twenty-three years ago when we moved to GR…so it’s about time for a facelift anyway.

variegated-rose-copy    Also…I’m already dreaming about a next possible project for ArtPrize 9!   🙂  artzprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-being-installed-at-the-holiday-inn        Am I discouraged? No. Wouldn’t it have been great to win? Of course. artprize-8-installation Was it worth all the effort? You bet!
trump-visits-artprizeAll sorts of people come to ArtPrize from everywhere!
larry-and-kari-visitingI talked to literally hundreds of people, including lots of friends.groups-of-school-children-visit-artprize-8and dozens of groups of school children.friends-stopping-by-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-for-artprize-8 Friends stopped by to encourage me, lisas-family-visits-artprizemany bringing members of their family whom I’d never met before.bonnie-visits-artprize-8Some friends brought friends while I was gone and left me sweet pictures! young-friends-visiting-artprizeChildren of friends stopped by with their school groups, kathi-with-old-and-new-friendssome bringing new young friends to meet me!julie-and-melissa-at-artprize I even had cousins from out of town visit, childhood-friend-at-artprize-8and I reconnected with some folks that I hadn’t seen since childhood! artprize-8Visitors took about 1,500 business cards (with John 3:16-17 on the back)joel-and-trevor-at-artprize-8 and over a thousand flyers.

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-artprize-8So, if you’ve got artistic creativity bubbling up inside, may I encourage you to go for it? Even if you don’t win a prize, you “win” in friendships, and you might be able to invest in the happiness of others. Besides all that, who knows? You could possibly end up with something you’ll treasure for your own home. 🙂

Want to know what my flyers said? Here it is:from-the-rising-of-the-sun“From the Rising of the Sun”

Einstein put it this way: “I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

My mural is one such tiny library of God’s works, initially inspired by the most glorious sunrise I’ve ever seen over my cozy lake home here in Grand Rapids. It was September 18, 2013, the first day of ArtPrize 5. Deep pinks reflected from the sky, shimmering across the lily pads and setting our lake ablaze with color. I ran outside and took dozens of photographs, thinking to myself, “This sunrise is God’s ArtPrize entry! He is the most magnificent artist of all, and nothing will compare with what He’s done.” Later, while enjoying all the creativity at ArtPrize with two of my closest friends, one of them asked spontaneously, “If you ever entered ArtPrize, what would you do?” None of the three of us had ever talked (or thought) about entering ArtPrize before, but it struck a chord in me. I answered without even thinking: “I’d make a collage of photographs trying to capture the rapture I felt this morning. I wish I could bring ‘God’s ArtPrize entry’ to ArtPrize!”

It’s taken three years of dreaming, praying, sorting, developing, and anguishing to bring to birth what eventually became a deep passion: to share the best of my photographed visual experiences as a gift to you. I searched my 180,000-photo collection, gathered from around the world over the past thirty years, and made a mural that I hope will fill you with the same warmth and wonder I’ve felt while drinking in the beauty of our great earth.

The title of the mural comes from Psalm 113:3, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” I’ve read that 99 percent of Americans report feeling some spiritual awareness and 84 percent claim religious affiliation worldwide, but if you came from a background anything like mine (with an atheistic father and an agnostic mother), you may not immediately go from experiencing the transcendence of beauty to worshiping the Creator.

The transition from believing in a Creator to worshiping the Lord came to me in a flash when I heard the gospel for the first time. The gospel is the good news that God is Light, Love, and Life. I’d never heard John 3:16–17 before: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I was overwhelmed by the thought that God loved me personally, sinful and imperfect as I was (and still am) . . . that He loved me so much He sent his uniquely begotten, holy Son to earth to live a perfect, sinless life and die in my place to pay the price for my sins. This same Son, Jesus Christ, not only died, He rose again after three days, proving to the world that He has the power to give everlasting life to all who will believe in him and accept his gift of salvation, freely given to us but paid for by the precious blood of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.”

God makes this offer to each of us! If you’d like to know more, please ask me or visit my blog, “Summer Setting,” at kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com. I pray that you experience all of God’s best at ArtPrize 8!

 

From Depths We Rise Reviewed

from-depths-we-riseIf you’re ever tempted to feel sorry for yourself or bitter because your life is so hard, here’s medicine for your beleaguered soul, fresh off the press this October. Reading From Depths We Rise reminded me that life is never predictable, tragedy is almost universal at some point in our lives, and God doesn’t owe us anything. Still, like Job (and Sarah Rodriguez, who authored this memoir), God is worthy of our worship and trust.

Job declared his shocking faith thus: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). How’s that for the antithesis of modern Americans, who argue that if God were good he’d order the universe according to our sensibilities and opinions? And yet, Job is lauded around the globe for his patience and held up as a model of integrity in the Bible. Similarly, I stand in awe of Sarah’s faith through a world of heartache, infertility, love found and lost, and love almost lost but ultimately found.

From Depths We Rise was hard to read but good to remember. I read it in spare moments between chatting with people while tending my ArtPrize entry. It was the perfect therapy for thinking I “should” win anything. Life is all about obeying God and leaving the results with Him. He doesn’t promise us any tangible rewards in this life for surrendering our lives to Him, but He does promise to bless us with far more precious intangibles: love, joy, peace, patience, faith, hope, self-control, gentleness, goodness…

Feeling disappointed? Feeling loss? Try reading Sarah’s amazing story of passion, prayer, anger, surrender, and joy as she learned to rise from the depths of sorrow and loss. May it inspire you to steadiness in faith as it has inspired me.

Tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:3-6).

ArtPrize 8 Winners…and Tips for ArtPrize 9 Contestants

lizzie-checking-out-from-the-rising-of-the-sunAfter 19 days with hundreds of thousands of visitors viewing 1,453 entries from 44 countries at 171 venues here in Grand Rapids, 380,119 votes were cast to determine which entries were the best of the best! wounded-warrior-dogsAlas, I was not among that starry group, but I can definitely take my hat off to the winner of the public vote, James Mellick, whose entry was called “Wounded Warrior Dogs,” an exhibit designed to raise awareness and support for vets using wooden carvings of several canine warriors who were wounded in war.  xThe other (juried) $200,000 grand prize was given to Stacey Kirby for her “The Bureau of Personal Belonging,” which was a three-part installation hearkening back to 1968, interrogating visitors about their views on sexual identity and gender in order to determine if they were “valid” members of society. Ummm.  benedicts-visit-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-artprize-8Despite the fact that there are now fifty-eight gender options for Facebook users these days, under 2% of the population self-report as anything other than heterosexual, so I’m not sure why gender studies have become all the rage on college campuses across our continent, but I’m certain that how we answer questions about gender is not the proper litmus test for our validity as members of society. It’s my theory that if we are human, we are valid. Nevertheless, we are called to be law-abiding, not law-breaking, and countries differ widely on their laws, which (whether or not anybody’s willing to admit it) are all based on moral ethics. What is moral and what is not? What is so immoral that the society is willing to outlaw it? Tough issues, and obviously highly charged with emotion, as we each defend our ideas of right and wrong based on whatever makes us believe this or that is right or wrong. Right? And, those issues really never disappear. As William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”   meijer-garden-panel-from-artprize-8When Alan and I left a paneled interview of the artists that exhibited at Meijer Garden, I whispered in his ear, “Well, I have no worries of ever winning a juried award!” The popular vote is totally unpredictable and as capricious as people, but the juried vote is much more predictable and follows distinct patterns.   recycled-items-for-artprize-entryIf you’re after a juried prize for 2017, I have a few tips for you! Tips one and two: be sure your work is modern art, not traditional, and use recycled waste. ditch-liliesThe singular contestant who was ranked in the top twenty for both the popular and juried votes was a man who gathered dead day lily stems from ditches around Grand Rapids and lined them up in such a way that they cast interesting shadows on a wall. ditch-lilies-2Clever, and his play with light was creative, but when interviewed, it sounded like he came up with his plan and executed the project in a day or two after arriving in GR, and the fact that he was a finalist in both categories was a bit deflating for those of us who spent months or years preparing our exhibits. artprize-8-mural-with-armstrong-familyTip three: you’ll get the most positive attention if you can come up with some creative way to make a philosophical statement that reflects support for gender diversity. artprize-8-family-visiting-from-the-rising-of-the-sunOtherwise, (tip four) come to ArtPrize for the joy of it! Create to give, not to take, and like Eric Liddell, take delight in sensing God’s pleasure in what you’re doing.  artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrong-with-helen-bI returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).monarch-butterfly-exhibit

It’s Easier When You’re Younger!

visitors-to-artprize-8Last week Charylene and Dave stopped by to encourage me and check out “From the Rising of the Sun.” While they were there, Charylene asked me to help her figure out how to register with ArtPrize so she could vote. Believe it or not, I’d not figured it out myself! You can stop in at a “hub,” or you can text from your phone, but now there’s even an ArtPrize app for your phone…except figuring out how to download the app and get it activated is NOT intuitive for older folks like us! We squeezed through a bunch of hoops but got stuck when they sent the confirmation code to her home phone…miles from the Holiday Inn. As Dave is just recovering from surgery on his leg, there was no way they could go home and come back. This trip was a labor of love already and really couldn’t be repeated! from-the-rising-of-the-sun-artprize-8As we were settling somewhat sadly into the thought of being has-beens whose opinions are on the wane in our country, my dear young friend Sarah stopped by to visit! Ahhh!! Youth to the rescue! She played with the phone a bit, gave Charylene advice, walked her through the process, and voilà, Charylene’s vote was cast! Harder than it looks, but possible, particularly for kids who’ve grown up with computer technology. 

Similarly, it’s harder than it looks to become a Christian, but not impossible. It also seems easier for the young to grasp Christ by faith, especially if they’ve grown up with the scriptures. The longer we go without learning to trust God, the harder it is. The disappointments of life have a way of shading us jaded. Instead of believing instinctively, we start disbelieving. Old people can get to the point where they won’t believe no matter what evidence is given, because their minds have become as inflexible and arthritic as their bodies.

Do you find it impossible to trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you read about his life in the gospels any time in recent years?  Have you gotten to the point where you might like to “cast your vote” for believing in Jesus but feel stuck? I wonder if there’s a younger person in your life space who can help. I pray for young people who will reach out and help older folks find the way of salvation and peace. It’s hard when you’re old, but it’s not impossible!

Some have said salvation as easy as A,B,C (although I know it’s more complicated  than it seems):

  1. Acknowledge your sin and repent. (Admit that you’ve been running your own life and decide instead to obey God and submit to his loving guidance). “Except you repent, you shall all perish” Luke 13:3.
  2. Believe in the death of Jesus Christ as the complete payment for your sins before God. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10.
  3. Confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, accepting his gift of life and giving him your life. “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9-10.

And [Jesus] said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Are You Backlit?

shineshine-and-autumn-leavesDo you ever have revelations during the night? Since ArtPrize started, I’ve been sleeping so hard I don’t even wake once up during the night, but I still have semi-conscious moments of thought. I woke up this morning thinking, “I know what’s going on!” Okay, so maybe I don’t really, but no fewer than twenty people, while viewing my mural, have asked me, “Are you using back lighting on your photos?”

“No,” I respond a bit sheepishly, “but I wish I could figure out how to do that!”

“Well, they look like they’re backlit!”

I’ve puzzled over that response, because one of my frustrations has been lighting. I installed LED bulbs with more lumens in the Holiday Inn’s ceiling fixtures above the mural, and the curator graciously allowed me to put footlights on the first half, “January to June,” which is in the alcove of the front lobby. However, fire codes and respect for traffic flow made it impossible to install footlights for the “June through December of Life” half of the mural, which is in the only softly lighted south entrance hallway. I’ve been worried that the colors don’t pop the way they need to, so it’s always a surprise when people ask if the mural is somehow backlit.

Here’s my thought: Maybe they’re seeing the radiance of God emanating from the photos. Could that even be possible? Are they picking up on something spiritual? Now I wish I could go back and ask each of them where they’re at on their spiritual journey. Because, in fact, the mural is named “From the Rising of the Sun” and is all about the beauty of God’s creation and his love for us, as demonstrated by this glorious planet that He’s given us. Backlit? No. Radiant? Well…maybe! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Similarly, we’re just “jars of clay,” and I find myself frustrated that I’m not more luminescent. Perhaps, despite our own frustrations, others can see the radiance of God shining out through us, even in the shadowy hallways where we live. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

“Shine on Us” (—Phillips, Craig, and Dean)

“Lord, let Your light
Light of Your face
Shine on us

“That we may be saved
That we may have life
To find our way
In the darkest night
Let your light shine on us.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

How Much Does it Cost to Vote?

trump-and-clinton-at-first-presidential-debateHow much does it cost to vote? Well, that depends on what you’re voting on. For instance, it doesn’t cost anything to vote for your favorite ArtPrize entries, although you do have to be in downtown Grand Rapids and take the time to register on line. But, what about something huge, like a presidential election? In our country, the “cost” is about the same: you have to be a citizen of America and take the time to register. However, to vote wisely is a different story! At ArtPrize, right now you can vote for anything you like, so you can cast 1—1,453 votes. If you like it, you can vote for it, and that’s fun! Unfortunately, just the opposite is true in this year’s presidential race.

Did you watch the presidential debate last night? Trump and Clinton were introduced as the least-liked presidential hopefuls in the history of our country, and sadly, that reflects my personal opinion as well. Whether it’s a matter of voting for which one I “like” better, or even which one I like less, I just feel like throwing up my hands in despair. I believe this election will test each of our individual priorities and beliefs more severely than any previous race. I don’t have the slightest confidence that either of them is an altruistic statesman with the integrity and wisdom to stop our country’s sled ride into moral and financial bankruptcy. However, I don’t believe any of the 20± independent candidates—if elected—could do better (not to mention I don’t think any of them has a ghost of a chance of being elected). Bottom line: Are we sunk? I’d like to think not, but I’m fearful.

However, just when I’m feeling pessimistic about our country’s future (like last night), I remember that we can all choose to be part of the Kingdom of God. (“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” [Psalm 56:3].) This opportunity is open to anyone, not just in Grand Rapids or in America, but anyone who lives anywhere in the world. Like ArtPrize or the U.S. election, it doesn’t cost us a penny to vote! Like the U.S. presidential campaign, there are basically two choices on the ballot, and the “vote” concerns whom you’ll choose to be your personal sovereign: The Prince of this World, or Jesus, who is “The Prince of Peace.” I choose Jesus, because He alone brings peace to my heart, and I know someday He will bring peace and healing to our entire world.

Thank you, Lord, that despite the unrest and difficulties we all face now, we can have the peace that passes understanding in our hearts, knowing that we belong to You, that there’s a spiritual kingdom greater than any kingdom here on earth, and that someday evil will be overcome by good.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).