"Saint Liberty" Featured in Grand Rapids ArtPrize
Painting by Andrews Artist-in-Residence, Greg Constantine
“Saint Liberty,” a painting by Greg Constantine, emeritus research professor of art and artist-in-residence at Andrews University, is featured in this year’s ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“Saint Liberty” is an 85” x 48” painting of the Statue of Liberty. Constantine used a ready-made “machine”—the mouths of paint tubes—to apply the colors in gestures directly onto the canvas, referencing July 4 fireworks celebrations.
Written out in a collection of license plates at the base of the painting is the statement, “Give me your tired, your poor huddled masses yearning 2 breathe free. I was a stranger and u took me in.” Constantine hand-crafted the license plates from vacuum-formed plastic, then meticulously painted and distressed the plates, applying actual rust.
“The ‘Statue of Liberty’ statue in New York harbor is as much a logo for America as the ‘Stars and Stripes’ flag and the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ national anthem are,” Constantine says. “She is the only one of the three that pleads for the relief of the suffering and downtrodden. She personifies freedom and liberty, therefore worthy to be called a saint.”
In the late 1970s, Constantine worked on a series of paintings on the subject of American landmarks, including the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the White House and Niagara Falls. “Saint Liberty” was created in 1978 as part of this collection and was selected to be exhibited in the American Ambassador’s residence in Athens, Greece, during the 2004 Olympics. It was also selected for a New York exhibit celebrating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.
Constantine says, “This is my seventh year in ArtPrize, and most years I have utilized my unique license plate format for my entries. This year I realized I should combine this painting with a partial quote from the plaque on the base of the statue. Then I added the Matthew [Scripture] quote which I considered to be very appropriate today. I hope that the quotes respond to people’s feelings about caring for others.”
ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days every other fall in Grand Rapids. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids—including in museums, public parks, restaurants, hotels and office spaces. Artists and venues register for the competition, then find each other through an online connection process in late spring. This year, 1,260+ works created by 1,400+ artists from 41 states and 40 countries are exhibited in 165+ venues. ArtPrize now attracts over 500,000 visitors, making it the most attended public art event in the world in 2014 and 2015, according to “The Art Newspaper’s” annual “Big Ticket List.”
“Saint Liberty” is located at the B.O.B. (Big Old Building), 20 Monroe at Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Constantine will be present on Sundays to converse with ArtPrize attendees.
ArtPrize is free, open to the public and runs through October 7, 2018.