Skip to Main Content

K Alumnus Enters ArtPrize

Dancers in Blue photograph resembling Les Danseuses Bleues painting by Edgar Degas

K College alumnus Russell Cooper developed a photographic recreation of “Les Danseuses Bleues” (Dancers in Blue) he has entered in ArtPrize Eight. His daughter, Violette, served as the model for all six dancers.

Kalamazoo College alumnus and Information Services employee Russell Cooper ‘89 is competing for a fifth year at ArtPrize, the Grand Rapids, Mich., event touted by organizers as the world’s most-attended public art event.

The event started Sept. 21 and runs through Oct. 9.

Cooper’s 2016 submission is a photographic work modeled after an Edgar Degas painting titled “Les Danseuses Bleues” (dancers in blue). The famous painting features several ballet dancers preparing backstage for a performance. Cooper’s photographic work, touched up in Photoshop, shows layered images of his daughter, Violette, a 7-year-old who enjoys ballet, modeling for all six dancers.

“It’s a great way for me to expand my photographic knowledge,” Cooper said of participating in ArtPrize. “I try to challenge myself a little more each year with a new process to learn. (Photography) is a very fun hobby although I don’t do it full time.”

In June and July, Cooper assembled a background and featured his daughter in six different poses over eight days, then printed, processed and framed his creation. The final product represents about 50 hours of work.

Cooper’s wife, Amy Clement, a ’96 K alumna, was invaluable to him in the creative process and even made two dresses for Violette to wear while she modeled.

K College Alumnus Russell Cooper

Russell Cooper ’89 is entering ArtPrize for the fifth time.

“I wanted to register us as a team” for ArtPrize, Cooper said of his wife. “She is a great art consultant, and she has a better eye than I do. But she said, ‘just let it be you.’ ”

Cooper’s work this year is displayed in a high-traffic area within the event’s 3-square-mile footprint, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Those who visit can participate in the first round of crowd voting, which is underway and runs through Oct. 1. Each person who registers to vote will have to be in the boundaries of downtown Grand Rapids to complete registration. Voters this year can download the ArtPrize Eight app, which is available for iOS and Android by searching for “ArtPrize Grand Rapids” in the app store, or vote at one of several registration hubs in the city. Only 20 artists qualify for the second round of voting, which begins Oct. 2.

ArtPrize invites any business, organization or property inside the ArtPrize district to serve as a venue and all adults to contribute their artistry to the festival. According to ArtPrize.org, around 400,000 attendees are expected to visit Grand Rapids during the event and 1,453 artists from around the world have entered. More than 160 downtown venues are participating including museums, galleries, restaurants, theaters, hotels and parks.

For more information on ArtPrize including how you can attend and vote, visit ArtPrize.org.