Walk With Me: Philanthropy and ArtPrize

September 29, 2014

You know my heart swells for my city of Grand Rapids with more pride than a momma bear for her baby bear. As one of the most philanthropic cities in the country (Google that shit!), Grand Rapids definitely fueled my passion for working in the nonprofit sector by introducing me to the spirit and potential of philanthropy. That's why I was so pleased this year to see so many pieces in Art Prize advocating for philanthropic organizations and humanitarian needs. What a truly unique way to present issues and raise awareness. Here are a few of my (so far) favorite philanthropic pieces in Art Prize this year. 

Also, this time I wasn't super lazy -- so you can click the hyperlinks to see more (professional) photos of each piece and hear from the artist themselves! 

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

1. #U
This piece was sponsored by the Michigan Suicide Prevention Coalition. #U asks visitors to stop and think about what makes U special, irreplaceable and and beloved in this world.

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

2. The Scarlet Cord
I am the first to admit that I don't know a thing about the depth or scope of the huge issue that is the sex slave trade. This piece was set up as a walk through shipping crate, where many of these captured women and children are kept. Images of women and children, starting at the beginning with images of fear and shame and ending with images of regained freedom and growing confidence, lead the visitor through the crate. Some of the pieces were red thread wrapped around nails to create 3-dimensional pictures (crazy talented!) and others were pencil. I give special props to this piece for including a concrete action step and poster of "What can YOU do" at the end. Every visitor was also given a matching red thread bracelet to raise awareness.

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

This piece is also about finding the light in the darkness. A colonnade of 20, 30-foot columns is splashed with a rainbow of colors and inspirational quotes. Sponsored in part by the Salvation Army of West Michigan. I loved the joy and triumph in this piece!

It's still my favorite, and raises awareness for a local nonprofit working with inner-city youth. You can read more about my first stop by this unique, interactive piece here.

These stunning, stunning portraits were taken at a local homeless shelter. The artist's statement reminds us that these faces are so "common" and "everyday" that we would pass by them on the street without a second look, not thinking of the struggles they are going through. It's a really powerful portrait series, and especially pertinent as Grand Rapids struggles to reconciliate the growing city condos with the shelters that have always been there. With a clash of two people, this reminds us that we're all human underneath and we're all fighting our own struggles in this city. 

Which piece interests you the most?
Do you have a cause or nonprofit organization that you're passionate about?

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Hayley Larue Design