At tonight’s event held at 21c Louisville, Kurt Ghode and Kremena Todorova took home a $5,000 grant to install a mosaic-like pattern on historic Lyon Square in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan -- intended to inspire a visual petition during the ninth annual ArtPrize event this fall.

LOUISVILLE (Kentucky) MAY 15, 2017 -- ArtPrize, the independently organized art competition recognized as the world’s largest annual public art event -- in collaboration with 21c Museum Hotel, Delta Air Lines and Experience Grand Rapids -- tonight awarded a $5,000 grant to Kurt Ghode and Kremena Todorova for their Pitch Night Louisville-winning entry, ‘Unlearn Fear & Hate’. Ghode and Todorova captured the attention of tonight’s five judges, including Karen Gillenwater, Museum Manager at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville. In addition to the grant, the installation earned a guaranteed spot at an historic outdoor venue in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize Nine, slated to take place September 21-October 8, 2017.

Tonight’s event was hosted by 21c Museum Hotel at their flagship Louisville, Kentucky location -- the first hotel of its kind, featuring a 9,000 square-foot contemporary art museum and an award-winning 91-room boutique hotel, in a city that could be dubbed the northern-most Southern city or the most Southern Midwestern town.

Ghode and Todorova’s work was selected from among five artists that were invited to present at tonight’s Pitch Night event. Each artist was given five minutes and five slides to sell their ambitious, site-specific installation idea to a panel of local arts professionals including: Barbara Kutis, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and Art History at Indiana University Southeast; Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at Speed Art Museum; Sarah Lindgren, Public Art Administrator at Louisville Forward; Scott Massey, Director of Allen R. Hite Art Institute, Chairperson of Department of Fine Arts and Associate Professor of Sculpture at University of Louisville; and Karen Gillenwater, Museum Manager at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville.

The interactive public artwork, 'Unlearn Fear & Hate' launched in August 2016 at 21c Musuem Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. Artists Ghode and Todorova drew inspiration from the need for artworks that address growing national tensions and is based in the belief that fear and hate are learned behaviors that can be unlearned. Each iteration of the work has asked visitors to take pictures and share on social media -- creating a visual petition advocating for the need to unlearn fear and prejudice.

“Having my picture taken in front of the halo means I believe it’s important to consider the ways in which I might be prejudiced against others and work to become less so, or the ways in which I might cause fear in others and change how I move through the world. And I also need to think about ways my community lives with fear and hatred,” said Todorova of this collaborative project.

For Lyon Square, Ghode and Todorova will stencil a mosaic-like pattern of thirty halos on the ground, as well as transform the railing along the river’s edge into a large half-halo. Each will include the words “Unlearn Fear & Hate” in one of thirty different languages -- representing the most popular languages spoken in Grand Rapids.

“We appreciated the fact that it would engender this natural and organic interaction with the community who came to see it,” said Karen Gillenwater, reflecting on the jurors’ pick. “It’s such a timely subject and they’re embracing the diversity of the city. They really will be taking a piece of Kentucky to Grand Rapids.”

ArtPrize Pitch Night launched in 2013 as a means of discovering and supporting ambitious, exciting projects and to reduce the barriers to bringing them to the annual competition. Since its inception, the Pitch Night program has continued to expand and in 2016 includes events in six cities across the country. 21c Museum Hotels will host three events -- tonight’s in Louisville, KY; in Durham, NC on May 17; and in Bentonville, AR on May 22. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will host a Pitch Night event on June 1, the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans on June 5, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art on June 8. Each event will award the winning artist $5,000 and a spot in a prominent ArtPrize venue during the eighth annual event.

ArtPrize Nine will take place across downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 20-October 8, 2017. Artist registration for the world’s largest art competition is now open through June 8.


21c was founded by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, contemporary art collectors and preservationists who are committed to expanding access to thought-provoking contemporary art. A multi-venue museum, each 21c property features exhibition space open free of charge to the public, combined with a boutique hotel and chef-driven restaurant. 21c presents a range of arts programming curated by Museum Director, Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites, including both solo and group exhibitions that reflect the global nature of art today, as well as site-specific, commissioned installations, and a variety of cultural events. The organization collaborates on arts initiatives with artists and organizations worldwide, including North Carolina Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, The Barnes Foundation, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Creative Capital Foundation, and others. Since opening in Louisville, KY in 2006, 21c Museum has presented nearly100 exhibitions, including Cuba Now!; Alter Ego: A Decade of Work by Anthony Goicolea; Hybridity: The New Frontier; Aftermath: Witnessing War, Countenancing Compassion; Seeing Now; Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs; Dis-semblance: Projecting and Perceiving Identity; Albano Alfonso: Self-Portrait as Light; Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art; Labor&Materials, Fallen Fruit: The Practices of Everyday Life; and The Future is Female.
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ArtPrize is an international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public vote. It invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people. It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art by awarding the world’s largest art prize. Two $200,000 awards are decided by public vote and expert jury, and an additional $100,000 in prizes is awarded to the top entries in each category. Registered artists and venues connect online at and agree to present the artwork for public display during the 19-day event. The public votes using mobile devices and the web to distribute their awards, while a group of international art experts determines the winners of the juried awards. ArtPrize Eight included 1,453 entries representing 44 countries and 40 U.S. states and territories. ArtPrize annually attracts more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 3.2 million votes for public art.
ArtPrize is made possible in part through the generous support of many organizations. The Corporate Leadership sponsors include Amway, DTE Energy Foundation, Founders Brewing Company, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Meijer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, PNC Bank, Switch, West Michigan Honda Dealers, and X-Rite Pantone. Premier sponsors include Consumers Energy; CWD Real Estate Investment; Edward Jones; Haworth; Herman Miller Cares; ITC, Your Energy Superhighway; Michigan Lottery; Steelcase; and Wolverine Worldwide.
Leading Foundation Supporters include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, CDV5 Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Frey Foundation, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, The Wege Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
CWD Real Estate Investment is the Official Real Estate Provider. Honda is the Official Vehicle of ArtPrize. MLive Media Group is the Official Provider of the ArtPrize Event Guide. The Rapid is the Public Transportation Partner. WOOD TV8 is the Official Broadcast Media Partner of ArtPrize.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation is the Founding Sponsor of ArtPrize.


Jaenell Woods, ArtPrize Communications Manager
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