GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A Burbank, Calif., artist has won the top cash prize at the fourth annual ArtPrize international competition in Grand Rapids.

Organizers say Adonna Khare has taken the $200,000 publicly-decided ArtPrize Award for her large-scale graphite on paper drawing, “Elephants.” 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.

Khare’s carbon pencil on paper drawing 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.

“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. A total of $560,000 was awarded to artists of 16 installations.

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.”

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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