“Our mission is to build relationships with the community youth in various neighborhood locations while providing exploration and application of the arts to nurture creativity and self-confidence through artistic expression"
artlink.gr is an initiative created by Founding Director, Professor Margaret Vega. In the summer of 2013, Vega became aware through a mother who lived in the Grandville neighborhood, of the need to provide quality experiences in art and design to children in their own community. The focus of artlink.gr is on forming relationships in Grand Rapids neighborhoods through art. Currently, artlink.gr consists of SiteStudio, the Artist-in-Residence Program, and Spring Break Workshop. These programs are made possible through partnership with Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities, Cook Art Center, Grand Rapids Public Schools and Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University (KCAD). There is future discussion to start in 2018 a program to prepare high school youth for college.
SiteStudio began in the fall of 2013 at Cesar E. Chavez elementary school, as a long held vision by Vega to diversify and form relationships through art. In 2014, the SiteStudio programs began its current location at Cook Arts Center and involves students from Cesar Chavez and Southwest Community campus. SiteStudio added the relationship with the GRPS schools in 2015 in our proposed plan of study. All of our projects involve history, creative thinking and a project that encourages the children to find solutions through experimentation and play. SiteStudio is not a craft orientated program, but touches on all aspects of making and discovering art. The identity of SiteStudio is to be mobile, allowing it to move from location to location, encouraging relationships while teaching children about problem solving through art within the culture of the neighborhoods where students live. Each year SiteStudio has a team of volunteers that are prepared to assist the Assistant Director, Tatsuki Hakoyama, in teaching the project to the students. An exchange of neighborhoods is done in the spring with our Spring Break Workshop bringing students to KCAD, with a final exhibition in the galleries and festivities for the families of the students at the college. Tours of the college are offered in an effort to let parents know the career options in the arts.
In 2015, the first Artist-in-Residence Program, with Ricardo Gonzalez, an MFA candidate at Kendall College of Art & Design, began. The program asks the artist to put together a curriculum with Professor Margaret Vega. Researching the neighborhood, as well as teaching and mentoring the students involved is part of the program. Students are chosen based on their interest to work and learn about murals. Gonzales’ mural addresses the history of the Grandville Avenue neighborhood, and is located in the Gallery Parking Ramp at 8 Commerce, next to the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. Our Artist-in-Residence for 2016 was Elizabeth Sevick, also an MFA candidate from KCAD. Along with students from Cook Arts Center, she created a mural based on symbols that was installed at Roosevelt Park, in the Grandville Avenue Neighborhood. The mission of the Artist-in-Residence program is to promote community involvement through project-based art initiatives. We accept proposals all year.
SiteStudio initiated a Spring Break Workshop in 2014. The goal of this workshop is to provide experiences for youth in a college environment during their spring break. Spring Workshops consist of two days in a neighborhood center, currently, Cook Arts Center and two days on the campus of Kendall College of Art & Design. Guest Professors in a variety of disciplines provide unique experiences to the students in the studio environment with the assistance of college students. Lunch is provided each of these 4 days. Our workshops have included book making, print making, ceramics, tie dying with kool-aid, making paper, molding paper bowls, etc.
Our year culminates with an exhibition of the student work and family reception at KCAD in the spring during art downtown. Students and families are brought to the exhibition and reception by arranged bus, which allows new comers to the downtown area to be comfortable.
“The concept for artlink.gr comes from my passion for implementing the experience of sharing a common creative voice, bringing our neighborhoods together; and in that diversity all of our lives are enriched” Margaret Vega, Director