Eva Rocha's Silent Chorus earned a much-deserved place on the ArtPrize 10 Jurors' Shortlist on Monday night when juror Carmen Hermo named it one of the five finalists in the installation category.

Silent Chorus is a strong piece with an important message, but what's up with that guy in the background?

Fountain Street Church is a must-see venue each year. The work displayed always encourages conversations about important social issues. Rocha's Silent Chorus is no different and it's the second straight year she's brought a memorable piece to ArtPrize. Last year, it was video/sculpture called Object-Orientalis at the Fed Galleries at KCAD.

Silent Chorus brings attention to a wide range of issues affecting women including discrimination, femicide, human trafficking and domestic violence. The sculptures are very well done, but you can't help but to notice a bust peeking out from behind them.

There's another bust across the room, but the one pictured is the one you'll notice most. He's facing roughly the same way as the ArtPrize entry and you can't unsee him once you know he's there.

Matt Milhouse, TSM
Matt Milhouse, TSM

Juror Carmen Hermo noticed too. When she announced that Silent Chorus made the installation shortlist, she said, "I think what really put it over the top for me were these two busts in the space of anonymous important men that we all see in the public sphere and one of those busts just peeking out behind the last row of women."

Hermo thought they added to the piece. They're a distraction to me, but maybe they shouldn't be. At ArtPrize, you can have a serious piece of art in one spot while someone is ordering coffee or eating a hot dog just ten feet away. Anywhere can become a venue and not all spaces are perfect.

I asked artist Eva Rocha about the bust behind the sculpture. She explained, "There is no meaning behind it. The bust is permanently attached to the ground and couldn’t be moved. That was the only way that the work could be installed. Otherwise, while trying to see it from the front, people would block the hallway created by the two doors."

So, what's up with the guy peeking out from behind Silent Chorus? Well, nothing. It's part of the room.

Here's more from Rocha in a prepared statement on how she came to show her work at Fountain Street Church for ArtPrize 10:

Before choosing Fountain Street Church as the venue to install my work, I considered different options from traditional contemporary gallery spaces to government buildings. Although most spaces could accommodate the work well, and had traditional gallery settings such as white walls, track lighting etc. I was drawn to the space the church offered me — the memorial room. At first, I questioned if the existing purpose - to honor mostly men who died on a battlefield - was too emotionally charged already or if the architecture of the space, which was designed to encourage reverence for sacrifice in war, would overpower the expressions of inner strength in my sculptures that reference women in their own silent war with social norms and systemic violence. But I immediately recognized the potential of the space in placing these women in a context of a memorial installation. While creating my work, created from initial conversations with women victims of human trafficking, I used a process of casting positive/negative/positive to maintain the human presence in the object and to create, not a traditional sculpture but empty shells. A memorial is a remembrance of a personal suffering that is experienced collectively.

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