ARTroduction to Austin
'Strides' for the win
Congratulations to Austin glass artist Morgan Graff on winning the ARTroduction to Austin competition sponsored by Hanger Orthopedic Group. The honor comes with a $10,000 commission and the opportunity to have her work displayed in the gallery at Hanger's headquarters at the Domain for two years.
Hanger launched the contest in connection with the move of its corporate headquarters from Bethesda, Md., to Austin. Central Texas artists were invited to create work on the theme of Moving Lives Forward, in line with Hanger's mission of providing services and products that enhance physical capability. More than 60 of them submitted entries, which were reviewed by a panel composed of Hanger President and CEO Tom Kirk, artist and Hanger patient Max Brenner, Austin Museum of Art Senior Director of Education Judith Sims, city of Austin Acting Cultural Arts Division Manager Megan Crigger, and this reporter. The panel selected the following 10 finalists: Back to Life, by Bryan Dubreuiel, Round Rock; Life, by Montena Fink, Austin; Strides, by Morgan Graff, Austin; Creation, by Cody Hooper, Austin; Full Speed Ahead, by John Howell, Round Rock; Wave, by Seth Hudson, Jonestown; Scenes in Motion, by Liza Shadrin, Austin; Three Ring Circus, by D.L. Tolar, Wimberley; Aqua U's, by Leigh Taylor Wyatt, Austin; and Untitled, by Sydney Yeager, Austin. Each finalist received $500. To see the works, visit www.artroduction.com.
On Nov. 16, Hanger hosted a reception for the finalists, at which more than 250 community leaders and Hanger employees got to see the art in person. Then, on Nov. 18, Hanger announced that Strides had taken top honors. Graff, the owner of Glass Blowing Austin, proposed a series of glass globes of varying sizes and shades of amber, with each containing a photograph from some point in Hanger's history. The globes are to be hung in an upward sweep across the wall and past windows in the space so that they refract light and cast shadows on the wall. The suggestion of motion in their placement and in the progression of Hanger's achievements in the photographs speaks to the theme of Moving Lives Forward. Eventually, Strides will be auctioned, with the proceeds from the sale benefiting a local nonprofit.
In addition, the work Back to Life won the Employee Choice Award, for which all of Hanger's 4,000-plus employees nationwide could vote. The 24-inch-by-48-inch acrylic painting shows a runner with a prosthetic leg in silhouette breaking past a jumble of colored lines. Artist Bryan Dubreuiel, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, says he was inspired by the "incredible people [who] sacrifice their lives to provide freedom and peace, only to come home missing part of their physical body." He will receive $1,000.