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Ohio Northern Retired Art Professor Installs Sculpture at Premiere ArtPrize

Artists from all over the world are descending on Grand Rapids, Michigan during the next two months. Galleries, museums, office lobbies, restaurants, courtyards, parks—just about any space can become an installation site to become an ArtPrize venue as artists complete for their chance to win nearly $500,000 in prizes.

This year, Ohio Northern University Retired Associate Professor of Art Judith Greavu has entered a sculpture “Reef Installation” in the “world’s largest art prize” that runs Sept. 22 through Oct. 10 in Michigan’s second largest city. ArtPrize is billed as a “radically open” contest in which the public, not a panel of art experts, votes on entries to share almost $500,000, with a top award of $250,000.

The public’s job of jurying is no easy task, with 192 indoor and outdoor sites hosting 1,713 entries by artists from 44 states and 21 nations. Beginning Sept. 22 registered ArtPrize voters may “cast their ballot” on each entry via text message, mobile browser, iPhone app, or online. Of the top 10 finalists announced on Sept. 30, the public may vote once for one entry. Prizes will be awarded on Oct. 7, and the art will be on view through Oct. 10.

Last year’s premiere ArtPrize attracted more than 200,000 visitors to Grand Rapids, 37,264 of whom voted. Voters register at seven exhibition centers throughout the area, including the Grand Rapids Public Museum where Greavu’s work will be displayed.

Completed in 2010 and measuring approximately 12 feet in diameter, the “Reef Installation” is created from recycled copper, recycled fused glass and transparent co-polyester Vivak sheets. The work has been installed in three Ohio venues as the installation is adaptable to about any space including indoor galleries, atriums or outdoor covered courtyards or walkways. So versatile that Reef could include seven to nine life-sized reef sea creatures (barracuda, rays, nurse shark, snorkeler) suspended in a circular formation. Made of light weight but sturdy copper strap and screen, each creature is about 25 lbs. or less. For indoor spaces, Reef would also include five to seven fused glass images of reef creatures in light box formats that are modeled on the viewing ports in some of the earliest marine zoos.

“This piece has been ‘in process’ for over 11 years,” described Greavu. “Reef elicits strong viewer involvement. In fact, some people have been known to ‘swim’ their way through the installation. It is hoped that, as people experience the Reef from different perspectives, they will see that forms that appear solid in some lighting appear transparent and fragile in other lighting.”

The creation process started when Greavu was a child in rural, coastal Florida. “I was surrounded by an amazing array of life forms and many of my understandings came through the discovery act of drawing,” explained Greavu.

“The process is more complex now and I hope Reef Installation embodies my view of the artist as a synthesizer,” said Greavu. “As it grows, the work combines aesthetic principles and media discoveries with insights from personal water adventures, investigations of current scientific discoveries and an awareness of broad social and environmental responsibilities.”

Whether the focus is on coral reef life, the Irish coastal tide pools, the Everglades ecological systems or the Ohio freshwater pond communities, the compelling information has to be observed, understood and digested. Greavu explained that “the copper, clay or glass must be shaped, the formal principles respected and the sculptures realized as an expression of that complex synthesizing process.”

Prof. Judith Greavu will offer a short presentation about her ArtPrize entry, followed by a question and answer session on Sat., Sept. 25.

Many other events are planned during ArtPrize including an art walk on Sept. 25, an education day on Sept. 27, and a speaker and a concert series. The winners of the ArtPrize competition will be announced on Oct. 7.

Designed as a different art competition, the main purpose of ArtPrize is for the general public and artists to collide, exchange ideas and come away changed. It’s part arts festival, platform for the creation and sharing of ideas, and part competition. But the main event is community. Artists take over the city of Grand Rapids, visitors explore the various site installations, and new ideas and relationships organically form.

Prof. Judith Greavu received her MFA from Bowling Green State University and taught at Ohio Northern University from 1985-2005. She is a professional artist who has been making bronze sculptures since 1963. Having recently retired from ONU’s department of art & design, Judy spent April of 2006 in an artist’s residency in the Florida Everglades. She has exhibited regionally and nationally, including The Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio and completed large sculpture commissions at the University of Florida, Tiffin University and the Inniswood Botanical Gardens in Westerville, Ohio. She has received numerous honors for her work throughout the state of Ohio and the country.

The 2010–11 academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bachelor of Arts degree in art at Ohio Northern University. Growing from a single-discipline school, the department offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensions, three-dimensions and art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is also recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2010-11 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: detail, Reef Installation