Anderson Ranch artist Michael Lorsung designed Aspen Words Literary Prize trophy

Snowmass Village-based artist Michael Lorsung designed the trophy for the new Aspen Words Literary Prize, which was handed out Tuesday night in New York City.
Courtesy photo / Aspen Words

Moments before announcing novelist Mohsin Hamid as the winner of the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize on Tuesday, Aspen Words managing director Jamie Kravitz gave a shout-out to Snowmass Village-based artist Michael Lorsung and said he “exceeded our expectations in every way.”

Lorsung, the studio coordinator for sculpture at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, sculpted and designed the award trophy.

“I had never made a trophy like that, but the processes are all things I’m familiar with,” Lorsung said last month in his woodworking studio on the Ranch. “It was a new application of amalgamated skills.”

Lorsung fabricated the trophy out of corian and walnut in the shape of a book, with a center cutout filled with glass — an aspen leaf etched in the center. Lorsung said he used corian, a material used primarily in countertops, for its white color and the way it mimics the marble stone native to western Colorado. The book shape, he said, was an obvious choice, with the transparent center as a nod to the deeper and edifying ideas that the prize seeks to honor.

“I like the idea of the design being a book,” Lorsung said. “Books fit into your hands and yet they contain worlds of ideas and information.”

And he kept the winner in mind, aiming to produce a work of art that they will be proud to display.

“I wanted to create an object the prize-winner will be pleased to live with, an object that has a life beyond the award,” Lorsung said. “The base of the trophy is detachable, so the trophy can sit on a bookshelf next to books the winner loves.”

Aspen Words bought the rights to Lorsung’s design, with the intent to hand out the same trophy annually in perpetuity. Lorsung hopes to continue sculpting it himself in coming years.

“It’ll be the design for the foreseeable future,” Lorsung said, “until they get sick of it.”