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Wooden carvings of “Wounded Warrior Dogs” wins public vote in ArtPrize 2016

Oct 7, 2016

A collection of carved wooden dogs received the most votes in this year’s ArtPrize. James Mellick, a craftsman from Ohio, takes home $200,000 for Wounded Warrior Dogs.

According to the artists’ statement, Mellick hopes the installation at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel raises awareness of wounded veterans.

“Six dogs representing service in various wars make up this project. The seventh dog, under the flag, made the ultimate sacrifice,” the statement says.

“First of all, let me explain, my dogs are allegorical. They are not about wounded dogs. The critics got that wrong,” Mellick said after winning a different award for best three-dimensional work. He says the dogs are representative of wounded veterans.

“I use the dog as a totem animal to tell stories about human existence, human consequence and the human condition. So that’s really what the piece is about. It’s a parable,” he said.

When asked why he didn’t carve wounded human veterans, Mellick says some people have a hard time looking at wounded veterans. But, he says, people relate easily to a wounded dog.

The top juried award goes to The Bureau of Personal Belonging by Stacey Kirby. This time-based work includes a set that recreates a 1960s office where actors and actresses interact with visitors. According to a press release from ArtPrize: 

Visitors are taken through a process to determine if they are indeed valid members of our community. The work points to the often absurd way bureaucracies define identity -- particularly sexual and gender identity -- and encourages viewers to contact Michigan lawmakers regarding certain pieces of legislation.

The Public Vote and Juried Category Awards are listed below:

Two-Dimensional

  • Public Vote: Portraits of Light and Shadow, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Joao Paulo Goncalves from Pompano Beach, FL. The Two-Dimensional Public Vote Award is presented by Foremost Insurance.
  • Juried: les bêtes, at the City of Grand Rapids Water Building, by Isaac Aoki from Grand Rapids, MI.

Three-Dimensional

  • Public Vote: Wounded Warrior Dogs, at Amway Grand Plaza, by James Mellick from Milford Center, OH.
  • Juried: Excavations, at SiTE:LAB/ Rumsey St. Project, by William Lamson from New York, NY. The Three-Dimensional Juried Award is presented by Haworth.

Time-Based

  • Public Vote: Sweeper's Clock, at Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Maarten Baas from Den Bosch, North Brabant, Netherlands. The Time-Based Public Vote Award is presented by the DTE Energy Foundation.
  • Juried: Search Engine Vision “ISIS”, at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Souther from Mishawaka, IN.

Installation

  • Public Vote: The Butterfly Effect, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Pettit Smith from Durango, CO. The Installation Public Award is presented by Amway.
  • Juried: This Space is Not Abandoned, at 912 Grandville Ave, by 912 CollABORATIVE from Grand Rapids, MI.

Outstanding Venue Juried Award

This award will be split between EVERYTHING IS TRANSFORMED, SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project and This Space is Not Abandoned, 912 Grandville Avenue.