ACTIVESITE is a biannual art event, which seeks to provide a catalyst for collaboration between the Art, Business, and Development communities of Grand Rapids: creating unique exhibition and promotional opportunities.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Program from ACTIVESITE | emerge 1

Text from the ACTIVESITE | emerge program...

Billy Mayer
Professor of Art
Hope College

This is the forth time that our students have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in ACTIVESITE. The brainchild of Paul Amenta, Todd Ernst, and Eric Kuhn ACTIVESITE has provided art students from the area and beyond with a unique, out of the “white box” gallery experience that allows them to explore other options for the sculptural experience. These projects have an almost rock concert like feel to them given the one night only format that the venues allow, and establishes an urgency for the viewer to see it all before the evening ends.
Our students now eagerly anticipate the next event and consider it an honor to be able to participate.
ACTIVESITE also brings to the public an opportunity to see the creative output of some of the best student work in our communities that otherwise might not be seen outside of the college setting.
In addition, the greater Grand Rapids community benefits from the experience of seeing the architectural potential of some long neglected buildings in the city, breathing new life into them, if ever so briefly.
This innovative approach to integrating sculpture and the urban landscape is to be applauded loudly.

Tamara Fox
Assistant Professor
Hope College

ACTIVESITE is a unique venue for viewing the work of emerging and established artists in Michigan, showcasing sculpture, installation, multimedia work, and video. There are few places in which one can view so much innovative art. This event – ACTIVESITE | emerge – features the works of recent or pending graduates of art programs from Michigan institutions. These are artists on the cusp of their careers, and fittingly we have been invited to enter into a space that is on the cusp of transformation.
Events held at ACTIVESITE are very much informed by the site itself –the location is part of the attraction and influences the perception of the exhibited works. Experiencing ACTIVESITE is almost disorienting. You cannot enter into the space without becoming engaged with the art, as it seems to embrace you. There is little boundary distinguishing the space between viewer and artwork. Taking the work out of the gallery –the hallowed “white box” of museum, gallery, art center – is no small part
of the appeal of ACTIVESITE.
Grand Rapids has seen a remarkable amount of activity and development in the past few years. It is a city in the midst of positive transformation –a rare bright spot in the state of Michigan, which has been impacted by losses in manufacturing and its share of the real estate crisis. One thing that stands out is that a large portion of this development has been instigated through the philanthropic activities of persons and groups who have an emotional investment in the town, or wish to enhance the quality of life here. The arts are vitally important to the life, culture, and spirit, of a community. Few can deny the unifying, moving, and yes, sometimes unsettling power of art.
Collaboration is crucial to this endeavor. Beyond being a practical consideration, collaboration on all levels from persons of varied skills and talents establishes an ownership to the event. In truth there is nothing unique about collaborative art exhibits. Art has been collaborative in its presentation if not creation for centuries, but unlike a conventional museum or gallery setting, ACTIVESITE is not an anonymous collaboration . Everyone who participates and views the work at ACTIVESITE has a role in the experience. Indeed, Amenta has said that if there could be anything resembling a mission statement or an agenda to the project it is that there is to be a sense of ownership about the event. It is undoubtedly successful in this endeavor.

Norwood Viviano
Assistant Professor
Grand Valley State University

Students learn through engagement. The ACTIVESITE project is a catalyst for collaboration on many levels. Grand Valley State University’s participation in the event over the last two years continues to encourage exchange between regional faculty and students. This exchange fosters a sense of community among the individual sculpture programs lasting well beyond the actual event. The temporal nature of ACTIVESITE addresses some of the fundamental issues in sculpture today, strategies of installation and response to a site. The project speaks to the diversity of contemporary sculpture practice allowing students an even broader experience within the field. ACTIVESITE also functions as an exciting and challenging tool for emerging sculptors to learn as they work in relation to an unfamiliar place and situation.


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