Loren Naji's Emoh Project Among Top 20 in Voting at Michigan Art Competition

[image-1]Last month, we told you of Loren Naji’s Emoh project, an entry into Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize annual competition. Yesterday, Naji got one step closer to his goal as organizers announced the twenty finalists from the first round of public voting. Naji’s Emoh was one of five entries from the Time-Based category.

Following this week’s final round of voting, the winner of each category will receive $12,500, and the grand prize winner of the public voting will receive $200,000. Naji was one of just 20 entries out of 1,453 eligible works to continue through to the final round of public voting. The eighth annual ArtPrize is expected to draw more than 400,000 visitors to 170 venues this year, and vote to award more than half a million dollars in prizes overall.

In an effort to raise awareness for issues including homelessness, vacancy and the environment, local artist and infamous gallery owner Loren Naji is spending several weeks living inside an 8-ft diameter, 1,000 lbs. wooden sphere he built out of reclaimed materials from demolished homes throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as homes in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Naji has been living inside his sphere, located outside of Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream, every night throughout his time in Grand Rapids, except for one night he spent at a homeless shelter with a reporter from a Grand Rapids news station. Since Sept. 10, Naji has been sleeping in a custom-fitted twin mattress inside his art installation.

“My self-imposed temporary housing will make a powerful statement and draw attention to homelessness, vacancy issues and our backwards system that needs revision,” Naji told Scene before departing for ArtPrize. “I will play recorded audio from inside the sculpture, producing sounds of daily family activities, cooking dinner, babies crying, etc. along with the sounds of houses being demolished, and snippets of newscasts covering vacancy and environmental issues.”

The project’s title, Emoh (home spelled backwards), represents our society’s backwardness. Both metaphorically and literally, Naji gathers the debris of fractured lives and reassembles it into something useful, uplifting and permanent. Following ArtPrize, Naji plans to fill the sphere with letters and objects representing “home,” and lock Emoh’s door for ten years, turning it into a time capsule similar to his They Have Landed sphere, located outside the RTA’s W. 25th St. Rapid Station.

Naji’s efforts have caught the attention of many news reporters. Naji has been documenting the experience using his smartphone through his Facebook page – showcasing both the media coverage, as well as huge crowds gathered to see Emoh and meet Naji. While there is still another round to go, Naji has already made Cleveland proud, and we wish him the best of luck this week.

The voting for the final 20 continues through Thursday. If you’re in or traveling to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize, you can vote for Naji using the code 62624 (Time Based Category).

(Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream) 146 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI,
(Grand Rapids ArtPrize) artprize.org

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