Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expanding Horizons

This fall our students and their families expanded their artistic and cultural horizons with field trips to several venerable downtown institutions.

The Andy Angelo Press Club visited ArtPrize the weekend it opened where they had a unique opportunity to talk to several artists about their motivation to enter the competition. Some of the students were surprised at what they learned, including the fact that one artist only enters to attract the attention of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” museums. The students then wrote about their experiences which were published on The Rapidian.

The next weekend 25 more students and their families were treated to private tours of two ArtPrize venues: SiTE:LAB and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. At the GRAM the group had the privilege of meeting several artists, including grand prize winner Anila Quayyum Agha. They also were able to get an inside look at one of the pieces to which they could easily relate titled “I Am Not Who You Think I Am/Yo No Soy Quien Crees Que Soy” by Salvador Jimenez Flores. Salvador spoke about the meaning of his piece in addition to translating for Ron Platt, GRAM’s chief curator, while he led the museum tour. A parent was overheard to say, “I didn’t realize I liked art so much!” When it was finally time to go home a student exclaimed, “I want to stay downtown and look at art all night!”

A post-ArtPrize field trip consisted of a visit to Kendall College of Arts and Design. On the way there, Steffanie Rosalez, the Cook Arts Center’s program director, was surprised to learn that nobody on the bus had ever been to KCAD. After taking a few minutes to describe the college and its important role in the community, she told the students what they could expect during the artist reception and campus tour. Moments later, 60 students filed out of the bus and began exploring the galleries and studios of KCAD's campus for the very first time.

Times like these remind the staff at GAAH of the importance of providing opportunities for our youth and their families. Even though most of our students live near downtown, they seldom have a chance to explore these institutions, learn about careers in a hands-on way, and meet artists, professors, and others who may be able to connect them with life-changing opportunities. GAAH serves as an important liaison between the Grandville Avenue neighborhood and the broader community by providing many residents with a unique opportunity to experience art in a city that is so deeply enhanced by it.

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