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On View: Crystal Wagner Creates Two Enormous Installations for Art Prize 2014

Officially opening today, Art Prize is a unique art festival and contest — perhaps one of the most democratic iterations of an art fair out there. The unlikely locale of Grand Rapids, Michigan becomes a playground for artists. Any part of downtown is fair game to use as a venue — no gallery endorsement needed — and anyone, regardless of their resume, can qualify as an exhibitor. The art projects are on view for two weeks while the public votes on which artist will be awarded the large cash prize. For her entry, artist Crystal Wagner created two installations in the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts using household items (plastic table cloths and chicken wire are two of her signature materials) to weave two enormous, sprawling sculptures in the venue's entrance and along the south staircase.

Officially opening today, Art Prize is a unique art festival and contest — perhaps one of the most democratic iterations of an art fair out there. The unlikely locale of Grand Rapids, Michigan becomes a playground for artists. Any part of downtown is fair game to use as a venue — no gallery endorsement needed — and anyone, regardless of their resume, can qualify as an exhibitor. The art projects are on view for two weeks while the public votes on which artist will be awarded the large cash prize. For her entry, artist Crystal Wagner created two installations in the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts using household items (plastic table cloths and chicken wire are two of her signature materials) to weave two enormous, sprawling sculptures in the venue’s entrance and along the south staircase.

Intrigued by the divide between civilization and the natural world, Wagner envisioned the fluorescent, biomorphic shapes as the forces of nature reclaiming their territory. In her work, the natural and the manmade don’t seem opposed. Instead, artificial materials playfully take on plantlike qualities, expanding over the rigid architecture. She seamlessly juxtaposes manufacturing and biology, tying it together with something that perhaps represents an intermediary between the two: handmade craft. Yet the fluorescent plastic, with its acidic colors, can’t help but remind one of a sort of insidious pollution. Wagner’s works sit on the brink of trepidation and ecstasy, indulging the viewers’ imaginations while keeping us grounded with a stark reminder of environmental destruction.

The winner of Art Prize will be announced on October 10 and the artworks will be on view through October 12 throughout downtown Grand Rapids.

 

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Philadelphia based artist Crystal Wagner recently exhibited a colorful new installation at the National Museum of Singapore. "Wanderlust" is a site-specific piece that she created for the museum's "Masak Masak 2015" exhibition, a part of their 'season of the children' celebrations. Previously covered here on our blog, Wagner's largescale works are attention grabbing for her choice of curious and unconventional materials including paper, chicken wire, and tablecloths. Measuring a massive 70 feet long, her new piece is made out of pliable materials such as crepe paper and wire, from which she shaped tunnels for children to play in and crawl through.
Kate MccGwire’s anthropomorphic pieces exude a naturally sourced beauty as they writhe and loom in place. Much of her sculptural and installation work uses materials from the animal world, like pheasant and crow feathers, to create something new entirely. The British sculptor uses a dozen verbs to describe what she does: "I gather, collate, re-use, layer, peel, burn, reveal, locate, question, duplicate, play and photograph."
The disturbing, seemingly organic forms created by Mireia Donat Melús take on an interactive edge with works like “Trou,” an installation that invites the viewer’s hand into the work and shows its exploration using an interior camera. His sculptures, made from nylon and empty silicone fiber, appear to be both human-grown and alien in nature.
To Japanese sculptor Toshihiko Mitsuya, aluminum foil is not just for baking. The artist has found a way to build shining sculptures and installations made entirely out of this unexpected material. His latest installation is "The Aluminum Garden", a "garden" comprising of 180 smaller sculptures or as he calls them, "structural studies of plants." The garden was designed specifically for Studio Picknick's space in Berlin, Germany to coincide with Berlin Art Week.

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