WORDS–A Suprisingly More Powerful Art-Form than Most

A Visit with a Local Artist

By David Specht

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Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. This phrase, however, seems to exclude those individuals whom lack visual perception – an issue which The Diatribe, a contestant in this year’s ArtPrize, sought to resolve.


“The past few ArtPrizes have seen those who are blind and deaf in attendance,” said Azizi Jasper, one of seven members of The Diatribe. “But none of the ArtPrize entries have catered to them, so our entry engages these senses.”



The literal definition of the term diatribe is “a forceful and bitter attack against someone or something”- a definition that seems fit for a group of skilled wordsmiths who classify their entry, “Word,” as the anti-ArtPrize ArtPrize exhibit. The group features a talented line-up of rappers, hip hop artists, poets, and story tellers, consisting of members Mitch “’PoetlikePoe” Burns, Venson Dix, G Foster “Autopilot” II, Duke Greene, Stephen “NoMic” Gren, Azizi Jasper and Marcel “Fable” Price.


The artwork was located  in Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club on the third-floor of The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids, “Word” features seven separate wooden panels, each displaying a combination of images, quotes, and biographies from the seven members of The Diatribe, with the quotes and biographies also available in braille form. The exhibit also features a video recording of the artists’ spoken word performances, along with a deaf-friendly signing of each performance within the video. The substance matter of the exhibit’s content caters to a number of audiences, ranging from impassioned expressions of emotional distress, to proactive ideas meant to spark nation-wide revolution.


The turnout was very good,” said Jasper. “This is the first year for me, and also the first time for all of us to come together, and I’ve formed lifelong relationships with some extremely talented and insightful writers.”


According to The Diatribe’s ArtPrize entry profile, their exhibit aims to transcend “from the venue, to the street, from our screens, to your screens, from our paper, to your fingers, from our fingers, to your eyes, life changing showcase, that will hopefully change the lives of many, and the outlook of Art Prize, for ALL.” One instance that stands out in Jasper’s mind has done just that.