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Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 2023

a series of three images by Parisa Ghaderi, Levon Kafafian, and Bakpak Durden
Artists Parisa Ghaderi, Levon Kafafian, and Bakpak Durden are the 2023 Envision Finalists. 

June 1 – July 29, 2023


In-person Event

Stamps Gallery
201 South Division Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104


Open to the public
Free of charge
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Organized by Stamps Gallery at the University of Michigan, Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 2023 is an exhibition and awards program designed to support the development of contemporary artists living and working in Michigan. In its second iteration, the program recognizes the creativity, rigor, and innovation of Michigan-based artists and collaboratives — and honors their role in inspiring the next generations of artists in our state. This initiative showcases the excellence and artistic merit of contemporary art practices in Michigan.

In the of fall of 2022, Stamps Gallery announced an open call for artwork, inviting emerging and mid-career contemporary artists from Michigan working in all types of media to apply. We received 309 applications, a record number for the program. 

A shortlist of three artists were selected by a prominent national panel of jurors: Neil A. Barclay, President & CEO of Charles Wright Museum of African American Art, Shannon Rae Stratton, Executive Director of Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency, and Nayda Collazo-Llorens, award-winning artist and winner of the inaugural Envision: Michigan Artist Initiative Award (20202021).

Meet the shortlisted finalist artists for Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 2023:

  • Bakpak Durden is a self-taught” multi-hyphenate antidisciplinary artist and alchemist. Pulling from various figurative art techniques, including hyperrealism, baroque, and veristic surrealism, Durden employs a wide range of mediums — oil and acrylic paint, graphite, film photography, and the written word — to construct their hyper-surrealistic and conceptual works of art. 
  • Parisa Ghaderi is a visual artist, curator, educator, and filmmaker. She earned her BA in Visual Communications from Art & Architecture University (Tehran, Iran) and her MFA at Stamps School in 2014. She works across different media. She has made four short films and two animations and recently directed a performance about the border situation in the U.S. for Iranian immigrants. 
  • Levon Kafafian is a Detroit-based Armenian-American weaver working the narrative threads of costume, artifact, ritual, and installation into stories about possible worlds and potential futures. They infuse their stories and cloth with future ancestral practice, hybridity, and magic. 

Durden, Ghaderi, and Kafafian will present their work at Stamps Gallery from June 1‑July 29, 2023. They will receive financial, logistical and curatorial support from the professional staff at Stamps Gallery. 

The jury will select a winner, who will be announced at the award ceremony on June 29, 2023. The winning artist will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize. 

If you have further questions, please contact stamps-​gallery@​umich.​edu.


Stamps Gallery

201 South Division Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

  • Sunday: Closed
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Thursday: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Friday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm