Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chris LaPorte

Chris LaPorte is the most recent 1st place winner at the ever growing art competition called "Art Prize". It is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and occurred this year from September 22 through October 10. There is nearly 550 K in prizes including 250 K to the first place winner. As an artist you may submit one piece and have it shown by a "host" of a venue in the city. These venues choose their artists. Anyone who attends during the competition can vote and the winners are ultimately determined by these public votes. This is the nearest city to where I grew up in Michigan. This has brought so much attention to Grand Rapids and will surely be pushing art in all the right directions with every year it continues.

Chris LaPorte was a standout to me even before he won. My mother attended Aquinas College where she was taught by Chris. So I heard about his entry as soon as she did. His entry is titled "Calvary, American Officers, 1921". It is a 2D piece 30 feet wide and totaling 300 square feet. This thing is huge. It is done in all graphite, 2H pencil on paper. I unfortunately never saw the piece in person. Im sure it is a completely different experience. LaPorte runs a caricature and portrait business and has supported himself drawing over 85,000 people along the way.
I have to insert his description because me paraphrasing just doesn't seem right. He states, "E PLURIBUS UNUM. Of many one. Many marks make up the drawing. Many men make up the regiment. Many lines make up the face. Many wrinkles make up the shirt. Many characters make up the story. Many experiences make up the event. Many minutes make up the hour, day, year. This drawing is both a representation of the people, their legacy and the countless organization of pencil marks that make up a composition. It is about the process of drawing, and also a portrait of these men who must have survived horrific events to preserve what we experience today. The drawing is an exploration of character and an exploration of mark-making to reveal that character. It is also a tribute to lasting legacy. I wanted these men to be life size, so that their impact may be immediate and tangible. They are here and now but also way back when".
`To me his work here is truly telling a story. A story of these men, life size to the viewer. And a story of his work, extensive and explorational. Illustration? Id say hell yes. There is a ton of info on the competition, anyone can submit, I would suggest checking it out. And my apologies if the format of this post is all jacked up.


  1. I like his statement about how he represents each men's legacy, individually and as a whole, to his own long and detailed mark making process. It gives the piece more of a reason to be other than just a skilled drawing.

  2. this guy is a monster.. to draw 30 feet of one picture and only using a number 2 pencil?

    the texture and tone he achieved with just a number 2 pencil is insane.

    all of these men "feel" real, the subtle nuances in their faces make you really believe they are real.

  3. This is really very interesting. I agree with Chelsea in that it really takes the intent for this to be anything other than an extremely time consuming photocopy. It is the intent and care which goes into this that makes the piece unique, and I am glad that this artist is aware of the distinction between making marks and creating artwork.