Launching ArtWorks!


ArtWorks, a nationally award-winning youth arts program now housed at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, was launched out of the East Hills office. Initially founded as a public art exhibition, ArtWorks evolved into an innovative job training program which teaches critical work skills in a productive, non-traditional manner.


The program partners with local arts organizations to hire professional artists and youth ages 14-21 to produce artwork for public exhibition, performance, publication and sale. The youth, called apprentice artists, have a unique opportunity to learn job skills by creating original visual, literary, media and performing art. Partnerships with local cultural organizations provided a wide array of programming including architecture, animation, ceramics, textiles, drawing, writing, furniture design, jewelry, graphic design, photography and theatre.


Among ArtWorks most successful projects were the public art exhibition Something Fishy, The Reel Thing youth film festival, The Red Thread Project, Expanded Visions black and white photography, La Petite Vitesse and several mural projects with the Grand Rapids Housing Commission and the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department.