Pamela's ArtPrize Nine (2017) Installation

ArtPrize Nine (2017) Artist

Voted Top 25 in Time-Based

Let Go

September 20 – October 8 • Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

…there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go…
Ann Landers
ArtPrize Nine visitors interact with Let Go

ArtPrize Nine visitors interact with Let Go by casting their own crumpled note papers into it

Artist Statement

Life's ebb and flow, at one point or another, brings us to a significant place where change and transformation can occur if we let go of whatever holds us back or weighs us down—like control, expectations, toxic relationships, or fear. But if we dare to release—even the past or the present, we will experience a new level of peace and soul healing. For ArtPrize 2017, seventy-thousand visitors collaborated by writing their own Let Go notes and adding them to the work.

One participant said, “While thinking about what to write, I realized that I hadn't forgiven my dad.” The pent up anger had been festering inside of him even though his dad had been dead for thirty years. After writing a Let Go letter and forgiving his dad, this ArtPrize visitor finally experienced freedom and healing.

Visitor writing let go note

ArtPrize Nine visitors interact with Let Go by writing their own notes to add to the artwork

The Inspiration

Let Go is painted with acrylic, transparent fabric, and paper. One hundred twenty-six participants wrote “Let Go” letters and sentences to be collaged onto the work. Here's a sample of one of the submissions:

You said that I shouldn't be affected by your decision to divorce my dad. What you didn't realize was that you not only closed yourself off from Dad, but from me as well. When you would shut yourself away in your room and tell me not to bother you, I learned that I no longer had a mother to depend on; I had to fend for myself.
When I left for work one day, you changed the locks to prevent my dad from coming in. But you didn't realize this: you shut me out too. Over and over, you chose your “freedom” and your “own” path, in exchange for me. Your choices cut a deep wound in my heart.
Then one day, I realized that you would probably never apologize, so I needed to forgive you or my bitterness would end up consuming me. I had to accept you for being you, instead of wishing you were some other mom.
Mom, I'm letting go of my expectations of what our relationship should look like. I forgive you for the pain you caused, and I release you from any responsibility to heal me.
Your daughter
Let Go at ArtPrize Nine

The 19 x 6 foot mixed media painting is made of acrylic, paper, and transparent fabric on five wood panels

Let Go filled with notes at ArtPrize Nine

ArtPrize Nine visitors wrote over 70,000 Let Go notes

Children writing notes to interact with Let Go

Children writing notes to add to the Let Go exhibit at ArtPrize Nine

Let go of hate

ArtPrize Visitors Respond

In honor of his deceased dog, a little boy simply wrote “Sam.”

Another child wrote: “My dad.”

A tearful woman whispered, “It's the hardest part…letting go.”

A middle-aged gentleman said, “I'm a new man now that I let go.”

An elderly man took out his hankie to dry his eyes and quietly walked away.

During ArtPrize, we heard of numerous Let Go office lunch-hour conversations reverberating throughout West Michigan.

Judge Patricia Gardner took graduates from Girls Counseling Group (serving female youth offenders) to interact with the Let Go installation. Judge Gardner said, “All of the girls were moved by the power of the moment in listening to the artist and letting go of negative behavior. It was honestly one of those moments that I thought would be a good educational experience, but it was far more meaningful than I could have imagined.”

Tell us your story #LetGo

Let Go at Kent County Courthouse in Grand Rapids

Let Go installation donated to Kent County Courthouse of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Special thanks to PlexiCase Incorporated, Lone Pine Elementary School of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Moonlight Graphics, Marijo Heemstra, Melissa Burgess, Patty Alexander, Jan VanderWal, and Denise Dickey for their valuable contributions to Let Go.

PlexiCase Moonlight Graphics -

Pamela has been an ArtPrize artist since 2009

Since 2009, ArtPrize, the world's largest open art competition, draws more than 500,000 visitors to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Veteran ArtPrize artist Pamela Alderman has become known for creating a new kind of artist/viewer work that invites audience collaboration. The work invites individuals into the healing process through participatory art. As visitors engage in the art making, small steps toward healing result. Over ten years of ArtPrize, Alderman's interactive installations, including The Scarlet Cord and Hometown Hero, have touched thousands—one person at a time. This healing art involves you—because you matter!

Pamela has been an ArtPrize artist since 2009