K Artists in ArtPrize 2013

Vintage neon sign at Michigan theater

Russell Cooper’s photographic ArtPrize tour gives a view of vintage neon signs across Michigan.

Russell Cooper ’89, help desk administrator for Kalamazoo College Information Services, is a popular figure around the K campus for his ability to fix all things computerized. He is also known for his love of roller coasters and his skill with a camera, many of his photos appearing on the College website. And others made up his first and second entries to ArtPrize 2012 and ArtPrize 2013, respectively. His 2012 entry was a photographic representation of his two children; his current entry, Michiganeon, explores the world of neon signs.

ArtPrize is an international, open art competition based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with $560,000 awarded by public vote and juried awards, making it the world’s largest art prize. From September 18 to October 6, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids will become an open-air art venue, with many businesses opening their doors to participate, giving their space over to become art galleries.

“I love the look of the vintage neon,” says Cooper. “I would see something cool one time, and drive by another time, and it would be gone (business closed, sign gone). I’ve seen other photographers shooting neon, but no one focusing on Michigan. I’ve been working on this collection for about three years, but only considered it for ArtPrize this year.”

Annie Belle with her ArtPrize entry

Annie Belle ’13 with her art entry, a knitted house called “Woolhouse”

Annie Belle ’13 (artist’s name for Joanna Eckrich) is exhibiting “Woolhouse” as her ArtPrize entry. Her entry was her Senior Individualized Project at Kalamazoo College, a house knitted out of wool, complete with furniture.