ArtPrize artist: ‘We’re always on the move’

ArtPrize Nine, SOS, A+J Art+Design
SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers) by A+J Art+Design, displayed in the Grand River near the Blue Bridge during ArtPrize Nine. (Sept. 22, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There are 22 neon orange swimmers dancing in the Grand River.

The eye-catching, life-size figures are part of the ArtPrize Nine entry in the installation category, “SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers).” The entry by A+J Art+Design is symbolic of human migration.

ArtPrize Nine, SOS, A+J Art+Design
SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers) by A+J Art+Design, displayed in the Grand River near the Blue Bridge during ArtPrize Nine. (Sept. 22, 2017)

“Migration has been a part of human history since the beginning,” said artist Ann Hirsch. “We move. We’re always on the move, and sometimes we’re on the move because we need to be; because we are danger.”

Hirsch and co-artist Jeremy Angier told 24 Hour News 8 that 22 figures represent the 22.5 million refugees around the world.

“Our country now, a lot of people are moving because of environmental issues,” Hirsch stated. “Looking at Harvey and Irma, there’s a lot of migration that’s happening because of the flooding in the south.”

The artists say that they electronically designed the figures and didn’t want them to look like certain person or gender.

The Boston-area duo casted and molded the bright shapes, and also created its river-friendly tethering system.

“The piece depends on its environment completely. It depends on what the water will do to it to activate it, and I think that is important to us that the piece is a part of its environment,” Hirsch said.

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