Works by Allegheny Alumni on Display at ArtPrize Nine

Two Allegheny College alumni are exhibiting their work in ArtPrize Nine, an international art competition that bills itself as the most attended annual public art event in the world.

Zane Miller ’09 is one of five artists on a juror’s short list in the installation category for his work “Two-way Protocols” and one of 25 artists leading a public vote in the same category, putting him in contention for prizes to be announced Friday, Oct. 6. The competition awards more than $500,000 in prizes each year, including a $200,000 Jurors’ Grand Prize and a $200,000 Public Vote Grand Prize.

Adrienne Vittorio ’04 is displaying her work “Horses Being Horses: Western Wild Herd” in the three-dimensional category.

Now in its ninth year, ArtPrize is art on a grand scale, attracting 500,000 visitors to downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. For 19 days — this year, Sept. 20 through Oct. 8 — theaters, restaurants, museums, parks, hotels and other spaces are transformed into galleries showcasing all manner of art. The 2016 competition featured 1,453 works created by artists from 40 states and 44 countries, exhibited in 170 venues. This year’s competition showcases 1,346 entries in 175 venues.

Miller, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in May with the ArtPrize entry as his master’s thesis.

“Two-way Protocols” is an interactive installation of two large suspended cubes made with a two-way mirror. Participants who enter the cube see multiple reflections of themselves and participants in the adjacent cube; viewers on the outside can observe the participants within.

“It creates a kaleidoscopic effect where you see yourself repeated around you in mirrors,” Miller said. “(The people outside) can see you inside the box but you can’t see them. It’s really about our participation with private and public spaces and contemporary communication in the 21st century.”

Miller’s work is part of a larger six-artist show within the competition, “Society of Spectacle.”

“It’s really an honor” to participate, he said.

Vittorio’s piece, “Horses Being Horses: Western Wild Herd,” is a three-dimensional sculpture of five horses made from copper, wood, jute twine, leather and metal. She made a similar sculpture for her senior comprehensive project at Allegheny.

“It’s still surreal to me that I’m doing this,” said Vittorio, 35, of Saegertown, Pennsylvania. “This is way outside of my comfort zone.”

Vittorio and her husband were vacationing at a dude ranch in Montana in 2016 when they met a couple from Grand Rapids. When the subject of art came up — Vittorio’s degree is in studio art — the couple told her about the ArtPrize competition and suggested she enter.

Vittorio, an inventory coordinator at Lord Corp. in Saegertown, hadn’t practiced art since she graduated in 2004. But the thought of entering kept nagging at her and, finally, she did.

Is art now again in her future?

“We’ll see where this goes,” she said. “This might open big opportunities and I might go in that direction. I’ve always been a planner. Now that I’m getting older, I’m trying to get away from planning every aspect and enjoying life and seeing where it takes you.”

Amara Geffen, the Eila V. Bush Professor of Art at Allegheny, has worked with both Miller and Vittorio.

“This is exciting news for Adrienne and Zane, and for the College,” Geffen said. “It clearly reflects their strength as artists, and the strength of our studio art major. To have two alumni involved in one year, one in contention for prizes, is both serendipitous and significant. Having worked closely with both Adrienne and Zane, and knowing how profound this sort of experience can be for artists, I am thrilled for them, and I am proud of them and our program.”

Photo at top courtesy Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University; photo: Matt Gubancsik.

Photo of horses courtesy of Adrienne Vittorio.