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Artists Selected as Finalists for Envision Award

Three prolific artists are the finalists for the 2023 Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative award.

The Penny W. Stamps Gallery received 309 applications for the program. The prominent national panel of jurors who made the final selections for the initiative included: 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, artist and recipient of the inaugural Envision Artist Initiative award.

The finalist artists are:

Portrait of Bakpak wearing glasses and a baseball cap.

Bakpak Durden

Born and raised in Detroit, 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. Bakpak is focused on continuing its position within the community, highlighting black trans and queer resiliency in addition to mental health, neurodiversity, and disability advocacy/accessibility.

Headshot of Paris wearing pink earrings and knitted turtleneck sweater.

Parisa Ghaderi

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 in Art and Design from the University of Michigan. 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. In addition, she co-curated Inner Fragments: Contemporary Iranian Women Artists, an exhibition of original artwork from Iran that traveled to the University of Michigan, University of Maine, Fitton Center in Ohio, Norwest Gallery in Detroit, and Michigan State University. Ghaderi is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Michigan State University.

Side profile shot of Levon Kafafian

Levon Kafafian

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. Together with Nick Szydlo, they run Shaded Knot, a science fiction/fantasy storytelling project, weaving portals to other dimensions. Levon teaches weaving and creative writing nationally and beyond. In 2022, they taught a seven-week public weaving program in Denmark with Rosa Tolnov Clausen and published a small book about their experiences.

From June 1 through July 29, 2023, Durden, Ghaderi, and Kafafian will present their work in an exhibition at Stamps Gallery. On June 1, from 6 – 8 pm, an opening reception will be held at the Stamps Gallery. The jury will reconvene before the opening reception to select the Envision 2022 – 2023 recipient, which will be announced at the event. The winning artist will receive a $5,000 prize. 

Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 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.