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ArtPrize artist Nick Reszetar's portrait series challenges beliefs on community, diversity

Nick Reszetar's ArtPrize entry "100 Drawn Portraits in a Year: An Exploration of My Community" offers viewers a moment to reflect on their communities and the diverse people they consist of.
Nick Reszetar's portrait series offers a compelling experience for ArtPrize visitors.

Nick Reszetar's portrait series offers a compelling experience for ArtPrize visitors. /Photo courtesy of Nick Reszetar

"100 Drawn Portraits in a Year: An Exploration of My Community"

Artist: Nick Reszetar

Art form: 2-Dimensional

Medium: Charcoal, mixed media and encaustic

Venue: Vault of Midnight

             95 Monroe Center St NW
             Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Venue hours:

Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m.

Nick Reszetar's "100 Drawn Portraits in a Year: An Exploration of My Community" is a compelling and emotionally-moving set of portraits that challenges our notions of identity, community and diversity. Reszetar's ArtPrize entry is hosted at Vault of Midnight, a comic book store located a half block south of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

A work in progress, Reszetar has completed about 30 of the charcoal drawn portraits to date. Due to space constraints, he chose 18 portraits for his Artprize entry. The portraits hang near the front door of the venue. The artwork makes an immediate impression when one enters. The grouping shows 18 distinctive individuals. A few faces are in profile, but most stare directly at the viewer with unsmiling, honest expressions.

The group of faces is so diverse it could easily be from a neighborhood in Detroit, Chicago or New York. Actually, Reszetar draws his subjects from Milan, Michigan, where he lives and from the college campuses where he teaches.

"Especially in Ann Arbor, an international college town, I have worked with people from all over the world," says Reszetar. "It is this tremendous diversity that inspired my initial thoughts of documenting these faces through drawing."

Some portraits are a single image. Others have softer images of the same face leaning on, colliding with or fading away from a more distinct image.

"In response to each face I choose to draw, I am looking for the ways I can push and pull these drawings from expected forms," says Reszetar.

These portraits, like all successful portraits, create the illusion that we are peering into the private lives and emotions of the individuals depicted. We make a mysterious connection with these 18 intriguing strangers. The grouping of the portraits adds another dimension and prompts a new set of questions: Are we drawn to certain faces more than others? If we find a face similar to ours, do we stare longer or look away quickly? How many of the subjects know each other? Do they have anything in common besides Nick Reszetar?

The application of encaustic, a kind of hot wax, gives the portraits an added dimension of movement, texture and layering. The complexity of the work is great enough to merit repeat visits. It is exciting to see a series of such high caliber at this intermediate stage. It will be even more exciting to see more of this portrait series in the future, at a museum or gallery or future Artprize competition. I hope an art gallery curator will find space for all 100 portraits to hang when the portrait series is complete.

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