Mural made of sugar could snag ArtPrize win

Decadence: Sugar Mural by Shelley Miller, displayed at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for ArtPrize Nine. (Courtesy: ArtPrize)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There is an outdoor ArtPrize mural made out of sugar that’s earned a spot in the Final 20.

Shelley Miller is the artist that created the sweet mural titled Decadence: Sugar Mural, an ArtPrize Nine entry in the installation category. 24 Hour News 8 spoke with Miller via Skype from her home in Montreal, Canada.

She says she was “super, super excited” to learn the public voted her into the next round of ArtPrize Nine. Her work is more than bright colors and a tempting treat, she explained. It’s meant to represent a contrast between opulence and decay, while shedding light on greed in the world.

“The word itself, decadence, we think about something we indulge in or a luxury, but that word also implies something breaking down of something and a decay,” Miller said. “That’s really what happens in the work over time when it’s outdoors. So, it starts off as something very lush and beautiful and then over time it crumbles and fades.”

The ArtPrize finalist piece, located outside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, also aims to shed light on the history of sugar. It includes slave ships in the work, to bring attention to the role sugar played during slavery.

>>PDF MAP: ArtPrize Final 20 entries

Miller revealed that she’s never worked in a bakery or decorated cakes professionally. She experimented with sugar during as an undergraduate and fell in love.

“I just sort of fell in love with the kind of poetry and the beauty of what could happen in the sun and in the rain. There is a sort of a sadness in how it breaks down, but I think there is something really beautiful and poetic in that decay as well.”

Miller also has created furniture and wallpaper from sugar.

Voting for ArtPrize Nine closes at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and the winners will be announced in the Awards Ceremony on Friday evening. You can watch that live on WOOD TV8 and streaming on

>>Photos: ArtPrize Nine Final 20



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