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Kendall Entries Among the Top Picks at ArtPrize

ArtPrizeGRAND RAPIDS – A Photography major at Ferris State University's Kendall College of Art and Design is among ArtPrize jurors' 25 favorite entries.

Robert Coombs will find out Friday, Oct. 5 if his piece, "Disabilities and Sexuality," is chosen to win the $100,000 Juried Grand Prize or $20,000 for Best Two-Dimensional Work.

Five jurors, who selected five favorite pieces in five categories, will award one $20,000 prize in his or her respective category. A separate panel of three judges will determine the winner of the $100,000 juried award.

Coombs' entry is on the short list of Washington-based art journalist Tyler Green, whose blog for Modern Painters was called "the most influential of all visual arts blogs" by The Wall Street Journal.

Prize money totaling $560,000 – $360,000 by public vote and 200,000 chosen by jurors – will be announced during ceremonies that begin at 8 p.m. at The Grand Rapids Press loading dock. The art exhibition and competition was created four years ago by social media entrepreneur Rick DeVos, who was honored by Ferris last spring with an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry.

Kendall students, alumni and exhibitions are well-represented on the jurors' short lists and were among the public's top 25 vote-getters.

Coombs also was recognized by Fountain Street Church, the venue displaying his entry. The $1,000 Social Action Award, sponsored by the church's Social Action Committee, was judged by Grand Valley State University professors Anna Campbell and Brett Cooley.

Coombs, who was injured in a 2009 trampoline accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, submitted a set of black and white portraits of men with disabilities. In his artist's statement, Coombs says: "Despite being disabled, we are still human, and have sexual needs and desires. Therefore, by photographing each person nude, it forces the viewer to actually look at our disabilities head on and see that we are in fact still human."

Three of the 13 entries on display in Kendall's historic Federal Building Gallery also received recognition. "Mr. Weekend," a 15-foot-tall talking sock created by Mike Simi of Seattle, Wash., was chosen by Lisa Frieman, chair of the Indianapolis Museum of Art's contemporary art department, in the Best Three-Dimensional Work category, and by Cathy Edwards, director of Performance Programs at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Conn., in the Best Time-Based and Performance Work category.

Edwards also named "Whole," a mixed-media and video installation by Hillerbrand and Magsamen of Houston, Texas, as one of her top five picks.

Gabriel Dawe's "Plexus No. 18," a tension-based sculptural installation of vibrantly colored sewing thread, was among the public's favorites, landing on the Top 25 list.

Also on the public's Top 25 list was Kendall alumnus Justin LaDoux's piece, "On Thin Ice," a sculpture made entirely of recycled materials, on display at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.