CCS Fine Arts alumnus awarded $100,000 ArtPrize


Working together as Design 99, alumnus Mitch Cope (Fine Arts '95) and his wife Gina Reichert, were recently awarded a $100,000 Grand Juried ArtPrize award for "Displacement, 13208 Klinger." More than 1,500 artists participated in the annual open art competition that flooded the streets of Grand Rapids earlier this fall. Results were announced October 5.

"Displacement, 13208 Klinger" is a series of showcases that house a three-dimensional collection of items the couple found while exploring an abandoned home—toys, tools, dishes, knickknacks and eyeglasses as well as piles of papers, including tax receipts from 2003 and even some dating as far back as 1946. The piece is installed at SiTE:LAB in Grand Rapids (54 Jefferson), former home of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

For seven years, Cope and Reichert lived a few houses down from the home that inspired their prize-winning work. Its last occupant was an elderly man they never met.

Cope, an independent curator and artist, earned his BFA in painting from the College for Creative Studies and an MFA in painting from Washington State University. He was the co-curator for the Detroit section of the Shrinking Cities Project, Berlin and formerly the acting curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In 2005, Cope became the first American artist to officially take part in a US Embassy Cultural Envoy to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he traveled throughout the country lecturing about his work, and visiting and working with Turkmen artists on a joint American-Turkmen exhibition.

Making up the other half of Design 99 is Cope’s wife, Reichert, an architect who has worked for architecture firms in New Orleans, New York and Detroit. The couple founded the studio to investigate new models of contemporary art and architectural practice.

Design 99 has exhibited widely including the Van Abbemuseum, Smart Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. They have lectured at the Dutch Art Institute, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Umeå University, Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Pulitzer Foundation. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Detroit News and Free Press, CNN, 20/20, NPR, Der Spiegel, I.D. and Dwell magazines among others.

ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition awarding $560,000 in prizes. The public determines $360,000 of the prize money (412,000 votes cast by 47,000 people this year), while another $200,000 is awarded by a select group of art experts. This year marked the first ever $100,000 Grand Juried award, which was chosen by three jurors.