If you’re spending time downtown this month, there’s a “must see” at the Western Michigan University Conference Center, (200 Ionia SW). Grand Rapids Public Schools hosts its annual Citywide Art Show from now until May 20, featuring everything from paintings and drawings, to 3-D and digital artwork.
The art show illustrates how talent knows no age, with artists ranging from kindergarteners to seniors in high school. Every building in GRPS has approximately 20-25 works of art in the show, which features over 1,200 individual pieces in total! Ottawa Hills High School included several ceramics pieces made on a kiln gifted to the high school from the Student Advancement Foundation (SAF).
For those SAF supporters who are dedicated art enthusiasts, the show is a dynamic way to see and feel the impact of their giving. In addition to new kilns, the SAF made over $50,000 in Arts Education grants this year to purchase the supplies needed to create the diverse, vivid, sometimes deeply emotional works of art displayed at the show. At a reception GRPS and SAF held for the show’s opening, one guest remarked, “When you step into the space and see the show for the first time, it takes your breath away.”
Arts education helps students channel their creativity, express their emotions, problem solve, and communicate nonverbally. Art isn’t just educational, it’s also therapeutic and can build confidence and encourage individuality.
Undoubtedly, Art Prize has helped to underscore the truism that art and its appreciation are deeply personal and subjective. Nonetheless, we challenge you to examine Picasso Frankenstein without cracking a smile or contemplate the sculpture, Shattered Heart, without wondering about the backstory.
Each show is a year in the making. Once the 2016 Citywide Art Show is finished, planning for the 2017 show begins. It is much more than a kids’ art display. The show provides the community an opportunity to see the incredible caliber of artistic expression possible when our students have the right tools and resources available to them. It is a powerful testament to the value of arts education for children.
This is the second year the Citywide Art Show calls the WMU Conference Center its home, encompassing the entire fifth floor of a place uniquely suited to encourage and inspire, even beyond the art realm.
“One of the best things about being in this space is that parents and students can then see themselves here—see themselves in a college environment,” said Maggie Malone, GRPS fine arts director. “It’s continuing to plant that seed that gets kids thinking, ‘Yes, college is for me. I can be here, I can do this.’”
The Citywide Art Show is free and open to the public at the Western Michigan University Conference Center, 200 Ionia SW, Grand Rapids MI, Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 9 pm and Fridays from 8 am to 5 pm. For more information, contact the GRPS Fine Arts Office, 616-819-2156.