The Grand Rapids ArtPrize kicked off on September 21st, featuring over 1500 artists from around the world. Their work is being displayed throughout the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan at 164 participating venues. Artists from 44 states and 21 countries will display their work and vie for the first place prize of $250,000.
Among the artists entered is Libby Hodges, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Her installation is called "Thousand Suns". It is actually a field of 1,000 sunflowers that she has created. They are made from 3,000 recycled water bottles that have been cut, painted, and glued to resemble sunflowers. In fact, the name 'Thousand Suns' is also the variety name of sunflower from the Burpee Seed Company, no doubt inspiring Ms. Hodges to create an expression of beauty and environmental commentary.
The artist notes that "3,000 recycled water bottles that were used in the display account for only 4.5 seconds of plastic bottle use in the United States" and that "Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, according to the Clean Air Council for the U.S., and nearly 8 out of 10 bottles end up in landfills."
With 'Thousand Suns', Hodges makes an environmental statement about our use of plastic in consumer products. Libby notes that it is meant to "inspire viewers to consider the collective environmental repercussions of not recycling, reducing our carbon footprint for our future generations, and to show ordinary everyday objects transformed into beautiful works of art."
The artwork draws attention to the impact of using petrochemicals as a raw material in so many products and nonrenewable energy resources. Like a Siren's Song, it reminds one that on the surface, what seems innocuous and even beautiful can have hidden origins that are detrimental to our health and environmental wellbeing.