The Rapidian

We are all connected: ArtPrize artist, Red Cross explore "This Enigmatic World"

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Alla Dickson pays tribute to her personal experience by dedicating “This Enigmatic World” to local American Red Cross volunteers
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On Christmas Eve morning last year, Alla Dickson went outside her rural Holland home to get some early morning work done in her art studio. As she was enjoying her coffee and the bright morning sun, she noticed a trickle of smoke trailing suspiciously from her home's roof. Within seven minutes, the roof was engulfed in flames. She and her husband Richard were able to usher her adult children - who were visiting from across the country - out of the house, and the family stood in their pajamas, in the snow, watching their home smoke and burn.

Within minutes, volunteer firefighters arrived, followed closely by neighbors and volunteers from the American Red Cross. While firefighters were still in the midst of battling the flames, Dickson and her family experienced a mysterious transition. With the arrival of neighbors and volunteers, bringing blankets, hot cocoa and words of encouragement, the situation shifted suddenly from tragedy to recovery. The support of Dickson's community was beginning to repair the chaos, even as the house still smouldered.

Thankfully, portions of the house were salvaged, along with one particularly precious item: a painting Dickson had created just months earlier, titled "This Enigmatic World." Inspired by an enlarged image of aluminum molecules she'd found in her husband's workshop, Dickson had printed the image of the interconnected molecules on aluminum, and painted layer after layer of color over top the image. The interconnectedness of the molecules, it seemed to her, represented the connection between all living things, and between people in our community. 

The abstract work, which is an unusual shift from her typical watercolor and acrylic landscapes, became a natural choice for her ArtPrize entry this year, which is the second year Dickson has submitted work. As a tribute to her family's transformative experience that Christmas Eve morning, and as a representation of the meaning behind the work itself, Dickson dedicated the entry to the volunteers of the American Red Cross of West Michigan.

"We are all connected," she says. "This is the message of the work. And it was exactly what I experienced when our house burned: connection. By dedicated my work to our local American Red Cross, I'm connecting back in to our community yet again."

To support the artist's work, as well as the volunteers to which it was dedicated, several local creative agencies have collaborated to produce a video summarizing the work, and postcard handouts for Dickson's entry. GR Film Farm, MoxieMen Inc. and Holland Litho contributed various in kind services.

"This Enigmatic World" can be seen at DeVos Place during ArtPrize. The entry's voting number is 56397.

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