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UICA members receive half-priced movie tickets, free gallery admission and discounts at local retailers and restaurants.

Gallery Admission Film Admission
Under Five
Location Hours
2 Fulton West
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
UICA is closed on University Holidays

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Contemporary Conversations

Contemporary Conversations

Learn more about West Michigan's creative workforce, neighboring cultural organizations, and about ways to engage with Grand Rapids' art-scene with interviews and guest features highlighting our local and regional community members.


Local Artist Feature: Ashley Trieu (May 2017)

Ashley Trieu is the founder of Iconoclasp, a handmade women’s apparel shop based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Ashley created Iconoclasp as a way to share her love of vintage with fellow retro-lovers.  Selling vintage eventually developed into making original handmade items and she has been exploring the world of fashion design ever since.  Outside of fashion she is interested in psychology, music, and retro-gaming.  In her spare time she enjoys reading missed connections and karaoke.

⟶ Learn more.

Local Artist Feature: Vanessa Autumn (May 2017)

Vanessa Autumn is a self-taught, visual artist and naturalist. She enjoys long walks on the beach (actually), getting lost in the woods, traveling and being immersed in new places, and a life revolving around food (growing it, foraging it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it).

⟶ Learn more.


Creative Mornings Feature (June 2017)

Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community of Grand Rapids and West Michigan, and part of a larger global network of 170 chapters, started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka @swissmiss). Creative Morning events are once a month—usually the third or fourth Friday—and  feature a different creative person based on the chosen theme.

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Local Artist Feature: Eana Agopian (June 2017)

Eana Agopian, a recent graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, is currently exhibiting her work at UICA. Agopian is UICA's 2016 Fresh Pick award winner. The designation is given annually to a member of KCAD’s graduating class who shows a high level of talent and potential. We interviewed the artist to learn more about her work, inspiration, and the West Michigan art scene. Fresh Pick: Eana Agopian is on view Apr 8 – Aug 6, 2017 at UICA.

⟶ Learn more.

Regional Artist Feature: Ellen Rutt (June 2017)

Ellen Rutt is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer living and working in Detroit, MI. Rutt makes bold, mixed-media paintings and murals and is interested in the visual and tactile nature of our existence - how we as as humans interact with the shapes, colors, textures that surround us everyday.

⟶ Learn more.

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Local Artist Feature: Sofía Ramirez Hernandez (July 2017)

Sofía Ramirez Hernandez shares her non-negotiable daily drawing practice on social media platforms in hopes of inspiring others to open up or feel less alone. Practicing since the age of two, Sofía painted, drew, and wrote her way to Grand Rapids, where she received a BFA in Drawing, Printmaking, and Painting from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. We chatted with the artist to learn more about what makes her so prolific, what inspires her, and what's on the horizon.

⟶ Learn more.

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Local Artist Feature: adeshola makinde (August 2017)

adeshola makinde is a streetwear clothing designer and the creator of COMPLETE VII . makinde lives and works in Grand Rapids, MI and collaborates with local artists and designers to make his dream a reality.

⟶ Learn more.

Local Artist Feature: Brian Hedrick (August 2017)

Brian Hedrick studied graphic design at Kendall College of Art and Design, and is involved with the local DIY music community. Hedrick is the Graphic Designer at Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and creates posters for Lamp Light Music Festival and his designs can be seen in a number of places throughout the region. 

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Local Artist Feature: Esan Sommersell (August 2017)

For Esan Sommersell, making is living. In a world where it's become increasingly difficult to discern fact from fiction, Sommersell's paintings remind us that what we see, hear, touch, and taste cannot be separated from what we feel. With bold forms and surreal color palettes taken from the landscape of lucid dreams, his work is an affirmation of humankind's innate desire to create, to mold, to touch the raw nerve of experience and discover for ourselves what it means to be alive. 

⟶ Learn more.

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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Seitu Jones (August 2017)

Working independently or with others, Seitu Jones has created over 30 large-scale public artworks. On September 23, Heartside residents are invited to take part in a community meal presented by Seitu Jones, UICA, and a number of community partners. The 250-seat community meal will unite neighbors, illuminate similarities and connections, and encourage guests to share food stories and participate in over the table conversations about food traditions, attitudes, food justice, rituals, and access while celebrating our diverse neighborhood. The Heartside Community Meal is an official ArtPrize Nine entry in the time-based category. 

⟶ Learn more.


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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Artemis Antippas (August 2017)

Artemis Antippas’ work is on view as part of UICA's ArtPrize Nine exhibition, Cultivate, a curated group show that uses food as a lens to examine cultural history, social equity, and the effects of globalization on communities. Artemis makes work that is a reflection of her intense connection to New Orleans and her various obsessions.

⟶ Learn more.

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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Danielle Riede (August 2017)

Danielle Riede’s work is on view as part of UICA's ArtPrize Nine exhibition, Cultivate, a curated group show that uses food as a lens to examine cultural history, social equity, and the effects of globalization on communities. Danielle has been making site-specific installations out of recuperated materials. Her international exhibition record includes galleries and museums in Mexico City, Athens, Cologne, New York, and many other cities.

⟶ Learn more.

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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Kyd Kane (August 2017)

Kyd Kane is a poet and spoken word artist from Grand Rapids, MI. Kane's most recent work, broke(n)hunger is an original spoken word poem that reflects on the artist's own experiences with food and her connections to and observations of food systems. Kyd Kane will also perform an original work, Communing Hearts, as a welcome to the Heartside Community Meal: A Public Art Project by Seitu Jones

⟶ Learn more.

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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Michael Peoples (August 2017)

Michael Peoples is a self-taught artist whose works reflect on the cultural history of the Midwest with a comedic bend. Peoples has been experimenting with mold-making for several years, primarily casting in wax and creating work using multiples and repetition. Each work explores the significance of number, color, and form upon cognitive and emotional experience. Perchance to Dream reflects the idea of food as memory. 

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ArtPrize Nine Artist Feature: Salvador Jiménez-Flores (September 2017)

Salvador Jiménez-Flores is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Jalisco, México. Since coming to the United States, Jiménez-Flores has contributed to the Midwest art scene by producing a mixture of socially conscious installation, public, and studio-based art. The Resistance of the Hybrid Cacti is an exploration of the themes of colonialism, migration, identity and futurism. The cacti, a resilient plant, can survive the most extreme weather conditions. Metaphorically, Jiménez-Flores sees these succulents as the hope for our future. Jiménez-Flores latest research is centered around the development of Mexican-Futuristic aesthetics in his work.

⟶ Learn more.

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Local Artist Feature: Nick Castillion (October 2017)

Nick Castillon is an artist living in Grand Rapids. Castillon's work is eclectic and ambitious large-scale multi-dimensional mixed media paintings.

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Local Artist Feature: Lauren Witvoet (October 2017)

Lauren Witvoet is a self taught artist born and raised in Grand Rapids. Currently they are working toward learning more about fashion design and refining their abilities as a stylist. Witvoet is fascinated and most inspired by the clothing designs out of those campy teen movies from the 1980’s and early 90’s. Witvoet loves a good bright colored bold print.

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Local Artist Feature: Mandy Cano Villalobos (October 2017)

Mandy Cano Villalobos is an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans performance,
drawing, installation and fiber art. She was raised throughout the southeastern
United States, and currently resides in Grand Rapids, MI.
Photo Courtesy: Delph Photo

⟶ Learn more.


Local Artist Feature: Madison May (October 2017)

Madison Nicole May is a printmaker and interdisciplinary artist who graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in 2016. In the spring of 2017 May opened Bend Gallery on the Avenue for the Arts specializing in affordable gallery space for emerging artists. 

⟶ Learn more.

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Local Artist Feature: Erin Schaenzer
(November 2017)

Erin Schaenzer moved to Grand Rapids, MI five years ago to attend Kendall College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in Printmaking. Schaenzer’s poetic works are influenced by identity and relationships.

⟶ Learn more.



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Local Artist Feature: Jillian Dickson Ludwig (December 2017)

Artist, art education, mother and wife, Dickson hails from a downtown-less town call Darien in the great state of Illinois. She moved to Rockford, Michigan 2 years ago and is a visiting assistant professor in drawing and painting at Alma College.

⟶ Learn more.

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Artist Feature: Curt Ikens (December 2017)

Curt Ikens, who received his BFA from Eastern Michigan University and MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, created new work for this solo show. Ikens recent work grapples with diverse issues including environmental sustainability, the awkward merging of Eastern and Western cultures, historicism, and child labor.

⟶ Learn more.