GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Any art exhibition that aims to explore the complexities of the human experience must be intentionally diverse in the artists and artworks it features.
“Sightlines,” Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s ArtPrize 2015 exhibition, is a bold and timely examination of the often murky distinction between perception and reality. In searching for artists who could offer a broad range of perspectives in grappling with what lies beneath the surface of ‘fact’ and ‘truth,’ KCAD Curator of Exhibitions Michele Bosak knew she’d need to look outside of the United States to give “Sightlines” a strong conceptual framework. As a result, half of the eight artists included in the exhibition – Katarzyna Kozyra, Seung Mo Park, Nathan Coley and Prince Thomas – come from outside the U.S.
“The social, cultural, and political forces that largely shape our experiences as human beings differ drastically from one part of the world to another, yet so many of us are touched by this sense that definitive understanding of anything is largely elusive,” Bosak said. “I wanted to put together an exhibition that really captured that contrast between individual and collective human experience, so finding international artists was crucial. Individually, these artists are very unique in both their practice and their conceptual pursuits, but collectively, they raise some incredibly interesting questions about the ways in which we choose to present ourselves.”
Katarzyna Kozyra was born in Poland, where she continues to live and work today, and is widely regarded as one of the country’s – and the world’s – foremost contemporary artists. In 2011, she received Poland’s Minister of Culture Award and the prestigious Paszport Polityki award, and in 2013 the Huffington Post named her one of the most important artists of the new millennium. During ArtPrize 2015, Kozyra will be displaying “Looking for Jesus,” a feature-length documentary that follows individuals afflicted with a condition known as Jerusalem Syndrome that’s characterized by a delusional sense of identification with Biblical characters.
“In making this project, I encountered so many incredible personalities,” Kozyra writes in her artist statement. “Each of these heroes hides a fascinating story, and all of them combined constitute a project presenting ways and means of carrying out one's faith, its place and role in today's world, and values on which we build our reality.”
Seungmo Park, a Korean-born sculptor who now lives and works in Brooklyn, creates giant photorealistic portraits of people, places, and things by layering multiple sheets of steel mesh into one cohesive image. His amazing technique has been profiled by Juxtapoz, Collosal, and Core77, among other media outlets. At ArtPrize, he’ll be displaying “Maya 7624,” a piece named after the Sanskrit word meaning ‘illusion’ that invokes the idea that everything physical in our world is not always what it seems.
“Our true essence only becomes visible at states when we shed all fabricated and false egos,” Park writes in his artist statement. “One's ego often appears to be a complete and refined work of some kind, much like a garment. However, this finely woven piece of drapery is nothing but a long-extended thread when undone."
Nathan Coley is a Scottish-born artist currently living and working in Glasgow, who in 2007 was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious art awards. His work has been featured extensively by The Guardian, BBC, and Artnet, among other media outlets. Both of the pieces he’ll be showing in ArtPrize 2015 – the site-specific spectacle of brightness and size,“You Imagine What You Desire,” and the “If the Young…” series, text-based aesthetic explorations of urban unrest – place the onus on the viewer to comply and be enfolded or to reject and remain outside.
“The question of how we come to know something lies at the heart of my practice and is oriented around the personal and social politics of faith and belief, control and order, and the authority of the information that is disseminated,” Coley writes in his artist statement.
Prince Thomas was born in Kuwait and raised primarily between India and the U.S., where he lives and works today. His multicultural upbringing has been instrumental to his artistic work, called “an endearing marriage of high and low” by The New York Times, in which he investigates and deconstructs complex sociopolitical issues. At ArtPrize 2015, he’ll be showing “That Was Then,” a time-based installation that combines the actual audio from CNN’s reporting of the first hours of Operation Desert Storm with video footage of a Fourth of July fireworks display to comment on the close link between the past and present.
“I have always felt outside the dominant culture in which I exist. This sense of being the ‘Other’ has influenced how I view the world, approach my conceptual concerns, and create art,” Thomas writes in his artist statement. “I am interested in questioning those places in culture that create divisions among people and attempt through my work to subvert those structures in ways that have been characterized as poetic moments captured in chaotic worlds.”
For more information on the artists included in “Sightlines,” visit the KCAD ArtPrize site.