Kate Gilmore is a New York based artist who's time-based entry "Higher Ground" won the $200,000 juried award during ArtPrize Seven.
You traveled all the way from New York City to participate in ArtPrize. What was your first impression of the event upon arrival?
It was so fantastic to see an entire community (and more than that) fully invested in art. People from all different aspects of life were looking, participating, voting! They were engaged with what was going on and that was super exciting.
How do you think the response to your work was different in a mid-sized, midwest city like Grand Rapids vs. an international cultural hub like NYC?
It would be very hard to make a piece like “Higher Ground” in New York as real estate is so valued and production and space is so expensive and complicated. The scale of what happens in Grand Rapids is phenomenal and the dedication to making things work and be successful is unparalleled. Working with Site Lab was amazing as they were so dedicated and skilled that they were able to make this piece happen in such a fantastic way. So, to answer your question, tons of people got to see the piece in Grand Rapids and the scale of the work would be very hard to accomplish in NYC. In terms of the response, I can’t speak for people, but I hope it had a strong physical and emotional impact.
Tell me a little bit about the process of installing such an ambitious piece like Higher Ground? What were some of the challenges you overcame?
Site Lab asked me to make a piece in an abandoned home (I chose a former nunnery). I proposed my piece to them thinking that it would have to be adapted as it was quite complicated, but they were all in! We didn’t have to adapt the piece at all and they were able to construct the installation seamlessly, find amazing performers, and make “Higher Ground” happen. Without them, it would have been impossible.
Were you able to interact with visitors at your piece at all? Do you have any favorite memories of a reaction or response from a visitor?
I was able to engage for a little bit, but it was a busy time for me so I really had to go in and out. Site Lab was so amazing and sent me tons of documentation and lots of stories. At the end of the show, they retrofitted one of the swings for a woman in a wheelchair and that was pretty spectacular.
What was your biggest takeaway from your experience participating in ArtPrize?
I would say that I took away that art still has the ability to excite and engage people on many different levels. Being able to encounter a large amount of people and have them be a part of something big like this is pretty inspirational.