Last night, ArtPrize announced the winner of Pitch Night Durham. Stacey Kirby's “The Declaration Project” / “VALIDnation” took home a $5,000 cash grant and a guaranteed spot at 200 Ottawa for ArtPrize Eight.

Kirby addresses North Carolina House Bill 2 and its effect on the community. Her entry asks people to declare their belongings or share their lifestyle choices to determine if they are valid.

The North Carolina-based artist’s work combines installation and performance, encouraging visitors to become active participants in her work and empowering their inner voices.

When visitors enter the transformed downtown office space, outfitted with Michigan and North Carolina furniture, they will be greeted by either a Declaration or Validation officer – and subsequently asked to either declare the belongings that they’ve brought with them into the space, or to identify their lifestyle choices for validation. The two officers will be stationed at either end of the installation, bridged by the Identity Corridor – a project of over 150 rubber stamps customized with responses about identity that she has received over the past ten years.

“The performative interactions that I create engage the public with conversations about identity, community and belonging,” noted Kirby. “I look forward to taking this piece outside of North Carolina and working with the LGBT community in Grand Rapids to perform my work -- so they can in turn validate their own community as well as the visitors to ArtPrize.”

Kirby was selected from among five artists and groups that were invited to present at Pitch Night Durham. Each artist was given five minutes and five slides to sell their site-specific installation idea to a panel of local arts professionals including: Cora Fisher, Curator of Contemporary Art at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art; Sabine Gruffat, Assistant Professor of Art at UNC Chapel Hill; Kelly McChesney, Director at Flanders Art Gallery; Beverly McIver, Esbenshade Professor of the Practice in Studio Arts at Duke University; and Amethyst Beaver, Assistant Curator at 21c Museum Hotels.

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“This piece feels very timely and relevant, especially because of North Carolina House Bill 2 and her stance on it,” said Beaver. “She seeks to make people feel valid and to have a participatory experience with them.”

ArtPrize Pitch Night launched in 2013 as a means of discovering and supporting ambitious, exciting projects and to reduce the barriers to bringing them to the annual competition.

ArtPrize Eight will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 21 - October 9, 2016.