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Throughout the year, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) offers educational programs serving families, teens and adults. UICA, a key partner throughout the first years of ArtPrize, continues to offer compelling programs to school groups and educators before and during the 19 days of ArtPrize. I sat down with UICA's new Community Programs Coordinator to find out what programs UICA is offering this year.

Becca Guyette (BG): Tell me about yourself.

Katherine Williams (KW): Well, on paper, I am a museum and arts educator living and working in Grand Rapids, MI. After studying art education and printmaking at Kendall College of Art and Design, I began working with students groups, families, and adults in the studio at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). Recently, I transitioned over to UICA to take on a new role as the Community Programs Coordinator, focusing on educational, volunteer, and docent program initiatives.

But really, I’m just one of the biggest kids in the room, creating opportunities for children and adults to learn, experience meaningful and memorable moments with the visual and performing arts, and to enjoy creating and playing in a safe environment.

BG: Explain the education programs at UICA.

KW: UICA currently offers a variety of educational programs that provides opportunities for all ages and abilities to engage in programs and events that celebrate visual art, music, film, literature, dance, and performance art. One of our most notable programs is ArtWorks, which pairs teens, ages 14–18, with leaders and mentors to receive job training and opportunities to create art, design, and installation projects. This program has proved to be successful in the past and I hope to continue the impact that it has on students and artists in the community.

BG: ArtPrize partnered with UICA this year to provide an event for educators planning a field trip to ArtPrize. Tell me more about this partnership.

KW: UICA is dedicated to partnering with community leaders and neighboring organizations to enhance our urban environment. Hosting this event allows UICA to provide educators access to our ArtPrize Exhibition, SENSE, and the opportunity to share with them upcoming events, community programs, and youth development that will actively challenge both artists and audiences to new levels of dialogue, creative pursuit, reflection, and illumination.

BG: Explain UICA programs for ArtPrize Education Days. What makes the programs unique this year?

KW: This year we are focusing on providing accessible and inclusive activities for Early Childhood classrooms and middle and high school student groups. Over the course of five days, we will feature the work and themes of six artists participating in our exhibition. We hope to provide these groups with an immersive program that will strengthen their understanding of how we engage our senses and create memorable moments through experiences with multiple senses. After viewing the different works of art, students will create conceptual and expressionist paintings inspired by the aesthetic themes and style choices of each artist in the exhibition.

BG: What are you looking forward to the most for ArtPrize Seven?

KW: While I’ve worked in the arts community during the last six ArtPrize seasons, this will be the first time that I am leading an ArtPrize Education Days program. So I will say that I’m most excited to be working closely with students and teachers who will be participating in our tours and workshops. Additionally, this is my first year working at UICA during ArtPrize. For that reason, I’m looking forward to experiencing the event in a new way—from a different view—and taking part in programs that I haven’t been as involved in in the past.

BG: How can people connect with you and UICA?

KW: I’m happy to connect and answer questions by phone, 616.454.7000 x27 or by email at katherinew@uica.org.

Education Days Presented By 

By Becca Guyette on