ArtPrize 10 finalist features overheard conversations

posted by 24 Hour News 8 - 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For two years, a woman has been collecting quotes from overheard conversations to create her popular ArtPrize 10 entry.  

Megan Constance Altieri’s Sonder, displayed outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, received enough votes from the public to make this year’s Final 20.

The ArtPrize 10 entry also received high praise from a panel of art critics during “Why These Finalists?” Monday.

“I think it should win. This should be the winner. I think it was great, and just noticing how the public was engaged with this. It was very simple and it felt very free. I think the public could really relate to it,” said Sharon Louden, the artistic director of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution in New York state.

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Sonder features fragments of overheard conversations hand-stamped on clothing matching those of the speaker.

“For the past two years, I have been collecting quotes from overheard conversations. Then noting what that stranger was wearing and finding something similar to what they were wearing then printing those overheard conversations onto that item,” Altieri said.

Altieri gathered the quotes from conversations she overheard from nearly everywhere she went, including the hallways of the school where she teaches.

The articles of clothing are all hung on clothes lines, which Altieri says help challenge the viewer’s capacity for empathy and awareness of others.

“Hanging them all up collectively together is supposed to promote empathy for one another, just the understanding that we all have a story,” she said.

Altieri said she is surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction her entry has received.

“I had no idea people would react the way they have reacted. Just watching the dead grass patterns evolve in the piece is like the most poetic and beautiful thing I have experienced,” she said. “It has been very meta watching the piece be consumed, watching people watching it is a piece within itself. It has been very beautiful and I’ve been very impressed by humanity.”

She will find out if her years of working on Sonder pays off Friday, when the winners are announced during the ArtPrize Awards Show, airing on WOOD TV8.

ArtPrize 10 runs through Oct. 7.

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