DETROIT — Adonne Khare's carbon pencil on paper drawing "Elephants" isn't just a massive display of the lumbering yet beautiful mammals. It's a long look — spanning across a 13-foot-by-8-foot canvas — at a part of her life.
Khare, of Burbank, Calif., was awarded the top cash prize of $200,000 late Friday at the fourth annual ArtPrize international competition in Michigan. Her piece was among entries by 1,517 artists from 56 countries and 45 states, whose work was displayed at venues across downtown Grand Rapids.
"The last year and half is documented in this story," she told The Associated Press in an interview Friday night. "The birth of my daughter, connections we all have with each other, loss, sickness, happiness, symbols of my history connected."
The competition, which began Sept. 19, awarded a total of $560,000 to artists of 16 installations. Winners were selected through public voting and panels of experts.
The 2012 event was the first year for the $100,000 Juried Grand Prize, which was awarded to a found-artifacts installation called "Displacement, 13208 Klinger." Items in the exhibit were collected over six days from a vacant Detroit home, which had the address 13208 Klinger, by Mitch Cope and his wife, Regina Reichert.
"There was 100 years' worth of items a family would have," Cope said. "We went through the house and grabbed all the things that were interesting that told the story of this house and the families that lived in it."
The couple runs Powerhouse Productions, a nonprofit that transforms and rebuilds vacant and abandoned structures in an effort to stabilize Detroit neighborhoods through art. Their winning installation — which features toys, tax receipts and about 25 televisions — was put together by the couple's Detroit-based company, Design 99.
An estimated 400,000 people visited the exhibits, making this year's ArtPrize the largest yet, according to organizers. More than 47,000 people cast over 412,500 votes.
"The only way to discover good ideas is to generate lots of them by lots of people, and the ArtPrize Awards are designed to be a catalyst that helps generate thousands of ideas," said Rick DeVos, founder and chairman of ArtPrize. "Our society needs more people to have ideas of all kinds, so we can make better things and make things better."
Khare said she leaned about the competition from a friend who had competed in it before. She called ArtPrize "completely life-changing."
"There are a lot of people and a lot of things going on," Khare said. "It's this conversation that takes over the community. I had school groups sit with me and we would talk about art."