ArtPrize artist, venue curator disappointed by demeaning feedback

"SOWN #HerStory" by Janice Dorsey, an entry in the two-dimensional category being displayed at Grand Rapids City Hall, located on Monroe Avenue NW.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Artists have different reasons for entering ArtPrize, but one venue’s curator said some of the artists there are seeing derogatory feedback.

The venue is Grand Rapids City Hall. Janice Dorsey is one of those artists.

She told 24 Hour News 8 that she put thousands of hours of work and love into creating her 2-D entry called “SOWN #HerStory.”

Dorsey sewed 100 women and young girls, and said it’s meant to illustrate the journeys girls experience as they blossom into womanhood. She received a wealth of positive feedback, but was angry to find a few responses she calls “ignorant, cowardice, and disrespectful.”

“[When] you get somebody that says my name is ‘blank,’ and they give you the finger, and they actually take time to draw that and illustrate that and put that in your book,” said Dorsey. “In a sense you want to tear the page out”

When asked if Dorsey thought this was a jab at women’s rights, she said no.

“That’s not what I thought at all. I thought immediate racism,” Dorsey said. “This probably sounds terrible, but I said to myself ‘had I been another color would he have said that about me?’”

A little further down the from Dorsey’s piece at City Hall is the entry “Paper Bag Test.” It’s referring to old practice where clubs and groups used a paper bag to decide if people’s skin were dark enough to join.

Monroe O’Bryant, the ArtPrize Eight curator for the venue, told 24 Hour New 8 that the interactive piece was meant to show support for all skin tones.

Right now, there are comments like “Black Lives Matter” and “Vote Trump” crossed out.

Dorsey said it’s one example that highlights that there’s work that still needs to be done in the U.S.

“Good, bad, or indifferent,” she said. “We have to become more accepting of cultures and of people.”

Dorsey, a longtime Grand Rapids resident, said she has her family supporting her and appreciates the positive feedback she’s also received from visitors.