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ArtWorks Program Prepares Students for Creative Careers

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UICA's ArtWorks program is an innovative job training program for creative youth, ages 14 to 21. Below are three testimonials about how ArtWorks prepares students for creative careers.
Underwriting support from:
ArtWorks Program

ArtWorks Program

Samantha Mast

Samantha Mast

Raven Jones

Raven Jones

UICA's ArtWorks program is an innovative job training program for creative youth, ages 14 to 21. The program readies young people for 21st century creative careers by providing inventive studio practices, professional resources, and opportunities for students to present themselves and their work to the community. ArtWorks addresses four hardships facing our youth today: 1) lack of preparation for careers; 2) drastic reduction of arts education in Michigan schools; 3) limited opportunities for positive role models; and 4) limited opportunities to be engaged and valued in the community.

Below are three testimonials about how the ArtWorks program promotes lifelong learning skills, including active citizenship, personal growth, employability and social inclusion.

Kayla Thompson was involved with ArtWorks even prior to its birth. She participated in the Something Fishy project in 1999 when the idea of bringing kids together under the mentorship of creative professionals was an idea conceived of the East Hills Neighborhood Association. Thompson followed that experience by participating in several ArtWorks youth programs including La Petite Vitesse (a.k.a. the Mini-Calder project), a fiber project and a printmaking project. She participated in the early ArtWorks fundraising event, Art Around Town, and was also connected to several internships during high school through ArtWorks—including one with UICA in their ceramics studio.

Thompson recalls, “I remember being really nervous for the interview with Israel Davis, UICA’s Ceramics Program Director. Even though most of the time I was just mopping the floor or recycling clay, I loved the studio. I was new to the material, but I made a few pieces that I am still very proud of: a coil built drum and my very first thrown piece that a Kendall student help me with. On Thursdays, everyone in the studio would stop working around four and drink tea and just talk—they called it “low tea” because the studio was in the basement.” Eventually Thompson enrolled in Kendall College of Art & Design where she pursued her interest in ceramics while continuing to work at UICA. “I started doing more than I was doing in high school. I loaded and fired kilns, mixed glazes, and to the best of my ability, answered student’s questions.” She graduated with her BFA in May of this year majoring in sculpture and functional art, with an emphasis on ceramics. She now works as an assistant to ceramicist Jeff Rottman, a local production potter.

Samantha Mast joined UICA’s ArtWorks in 2007 while in high school. She participated in five ArtWorks programs over four years, “strutted” in her own design during the first Recycled Runway event, assisted the education department with a Studio Create art camp for kids and dressed up in a hot pink wig and tutu to advertise a gallery opening. “Collaborating with others to create art is a very powerful way to grow, and the ArtWorks program provides just that. For high school students who are interested in a creative career, I couldn’t recommend any program more then ArtWorks. Artworks formed who I am today as an artist by opening up my passion to create, giving me the tools to collaborate, and the opportunities to become involved in events high school students are not typically involved in. The program really became my highlight of my summers, my favorite high school memories, and it led me to my next step in life.”

Mast is currently an intern with Very Special Arts (VSA) and will attend the College for Creative Studies in Detroit this fall. She’ll pursue a degree in crafts with an emphasis in textiles and fiber. The degree also includes an exploration in metals, ceramics, wood and glass. “I would not have been able to get this far without my participation in UICA’s ArtWorks program which immersed me into the art community. ArtWorks allowed me to develop many valuable skills, such as creating work to fit a client’s need, learning to collaborate with others, and stepping out of my comfort zone to try, and excel, with new techniques and medias. Through the program, I have been offered many significant opportunities to learn from and even work with successful artists in our community. I’ve also been able to see my artwork worn on t-shirts sold for the UICA and ArtPrize, on the building site at Fulton and Division, and in the hands of children who just bought a new doll.”

Raven Jones has been part of the UICA family since 2008 when she participated in her first ArtWorks youth program. Since, she participated in three other ArtWorks programs. During these projects she showcased her beaded works at an art exhibition in the Kindel Furniture warehouse, designed an ArtPrize store display, created an ArtPrize t-shirt designs, and helped create a mural at UICA's new building at 2 West Fulton. After completing ArtWorks, Jones continued her involvement with UICA by volunteering at the front desk on a weekly basis and was hired to help with an ArtWorks project in 2010 assisting artist Shelly Klein. This past spring she was awarded a Portfolio Scholarship by KCAD. Sandy Britton, Director of Enrollment Management noted of her application, "Raven's portfolio review demonstrated a high passion and talent indicating her future success in Kendall’s Fashion Program." Jones will begin her studies in fashion at KCAD this fall. Jones added, “UICA and their ArtWorks program have been the most important part of my personal and artistic growth in the past three year.”  Upon graduation from KCAD, Jones would like to develop her own clothing line and store.

This summer, UICA is leading three ArtWorks sessions: jewelry design, screen printing, and graphic design. To learn more about UICA's ArtWorks youth program, contact Becca at [email protected].


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