GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The public vote grand prize winner at ArtPrize 10 is a photo series about the concept of the human connection, while the juried grand prize winner is a deeply personal piece about identity.
At the ArtPrize 10 Awards Friday, husband-and-wife team Chelsea Nix and Mariano Cortez won $200,000 for “THE STRING PROJECT” and Le’Andra LeSeur won for brown, carmine, and blue.
Nix and Cortez said they were inspired while working at their small soup kitchen in Guatemala. Called Project Simple, it feeds elderly women and homeless children.
“They use a lot of string — they’re Mayan … and one day we thought, ‘Well, what about a string?'” Nix said in a live interview on 24 Hour News 8 after the win. “We were missing something in our photographs. There was a disconnect between our viewer and our art form.”
The string, she said, unified the work. Each of their photos shows someone holding a white cord, connecting them to one another with a simple symbol.
Nix and Cortez, who live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said they’ll be using the prize money to expand their soup kitchen.
LeSeur, of New Jersey, said she’s going to use her award money to create more art and also to help support others.
“I was once someone who felt like I didn’t have a voice as an artist, so I really want to do something to help other black female artists out there who feel like they may not have a voice,” she told 24 Hour News 8. “I want to really just make sure that they have a platform, they have a space where they can actually get their work out there in the same way that I had a space this ArtPrize.”
Her work, she said, is about resilience. It’s a series of objects, images, videos and performances that LeSeur said are representative of her identity, the trauma she has experienced the ultimate joy she has found.
She said it was an honor to be recognized by other artists in her juried grand prize win.
“It’s kind of the icing on the cake to know that people who really have the stature really understand what I was trying to say, what I was trying to convey,” she said. “But ultimately, I’m still happy that I was able to speak to the public and really connect with a lot of people in this community and have really, really thought-provoking conversations with them and understand where they were coming from and just really have that element of connection in the space.”
“THE STRING PROJECT” is on display at DeVos Place Convention Center and brown, carmine, and blue. is at SiTE:LAB. Both pieces will be available to view through Sunday, when the world’s largest art competition wraps up.