GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Detroit artists are using their ArtPrize entry to inspire others to use creativity to promote peace and not war.
After initially creating a piece for ArtPrize 2022, mixed media artist Onzie Norman and figurative artist Darin Darby decided they wanted to do something more impactful and collaborated for their entry, “Weapons of Mass Creativity,” which is hanging in the DeVos Place Convention Center.
The mural features five soldiers of art: a musician, poet, visual artist, muralist and photographer. Instead of deadly weapons, they carry tools for their creative outlet, ready to restore a war-torn city.
“We actually created an art piece that goes against violence and war and created something that promotes peace, love, joy, unity, prosperity, things of that nature,” Darby said.
The mural was created using Norman’s skills of collage and abstract work and a style of art that Darby created known as Laypuzzim. According to his ArtPrize biography, Laypuzzim “is created by cutting textured card stock paper, mat board, or wood. Each individual color of the artwork is cut out by hand, layered, and puzzled together to create an image using negative space.”
“From a picture, you can’t tell that it’s storytelling in there, you can’t tell that it has three-dimensional parts, but when you get up on it, you can tell that parts are lifted, there’s storytelling, there’s a strong positive message…” Norman said.
“We hope that they see all the different messages behind it, especially with what we’re going through today in our world and in our society,” Darby said. “Art has no color, so you see a number of different colored people in the art piece. We’re all one race, the human race. We want to promote peace more than anything.”
This message is something that both artists say they can see people understanding when they see their entry.
“We sat with our piece for a couple of days and a lot of individuals came to talk to us and spoke to us on how it touched them,” Darby said. “One woman had a sense of healing. She only can see certain dimensions in one of her eyes but when she looked at our piece she said she saw all the dimensions in both of her eyes. That really inspired us and touched us and made us feel like we accomplished something, even if we just touched one person and it changed their life, that was the whole intent.”
ArtPrize is an international art competition that takes place in Grand Rapids through Oct. 2.