Tell us a little about you.
I’m an arts professional originally from Chicagoland. I studied Art History and Visual Art Management at Columbia College Chicago. My personal love of art deeply motivates me to bring opportunities to enjoy art to diverse audiences. Living in Grand Rapids, I’ve always thought about how I can contribute to the city as an individual. It struck me that there are ever more opportunities to experience art, but that without some education on visual literacy, those experiences may be shallow, frustrating, or boring for some people. So with Vis Ed, I’m setting out to teach the necessary skills to have deeper experiences with art.
How would you describe yourself?
Vis Ed is an art education program providing new skills and opportunities to have enriching experiences with art. It’s based in Grand Rapids and offers workshops, school visits, and takes art to strange places.
What milestone or experience led you to a career in the performing arts?
This is just one small moment, but when I was a gallery attendant in college in Illinois, a man who was in the building for a music performance came into the gallery to look at the artwork. After a while he stopped to chat with me, and said that he worked in marketing, and that he, like a lot of others, felt that art is something special and important, but didn't know how to engage with it. “It has a PR problem,” he told me. That conversation has stuck with me ever since and has inspired me to work to improve the “PR” of art.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?
It’s been a combination of the art cultures of Chicago and Grand Rapids. Chicago showed me that there were so many alternative ways to present and engage with art. Then in Grand Rapids I've met numerous young people who are taking their ideas and turning them into small businesses and brick-and-mortar spaces, which has given me the courage to do the same.
Where can we find you performing regularly and/or what types of opportunities are you seeking?
I have some presentations on how to look at art coming up in the fall, but I’m always looking for more opportunities to teach this workshop, whether that’s to student groups, office groups, etc.
Do you have a piece of work or performance that stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you? Why?
I really enjoy putting on Flex Gallery, the gallery of artist-made armbands I wear each January through April. It’s deeply meaningful for me to take the work of local artists to all sorts of locations and have conversations with strangers about contemporary art.
On May 15, you'll be participating in our inaugural event, Off The Wall. What can guests of the event expect to experience during your performance? What do you hope they will walk away with?
They can expect an informative yet light-hearted presentation on the steps for viewing a work of art. We will be moving around, talking to each other, and looking at art in the galleries. I hope people walk away more confident and equipped to look at art, so they can enjoy and find meaning in it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m open to new opportunities and collaboration, so if you’re passionate about visual literacy, I’d love to talk.
Where can we learn more about you?
About the Event
Off The Wall
May 15, 2018
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
UICA Members: $35, Public: $50
Off The Wall presents visionary performances by artists, musicians, spoken-word poets, singers, and dancers. Watch and listen as artists challenge the conventions of the performing arts, reveal original works, and experiment with new material in UICA’s galleries. Proceeds from Off The Wall support UICA’s programming, exhibitions, films, and arts-focused events year-round.
Guests will enjoy small bites from San Chez Bistro and Cakabakery, and a cash bar featuring select wines and craft beers.
Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations should contact Megan Bylsma, Associate Director, at 616.454.7000 x11 or firstname.lastname@example.org at least 72 hours in advance.