Kendall College’s Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA) has consistently been one of Grand Rapids’ most important museums due to its deep connection to Michigan culture, diversity, social issues and cutting edge artistic ideas. One of the Institute’s most recent exhibitions is “Coming Home,” a collection of work from four different artists with deep roots in Michigan.
“Coming Home” features work from painter and muralist Pat Perry, stone artist Jason Quigno, photographer Zachary Trebellas and Emily Nareja, who currently works as a visiting professor of photography at Grand Valley State University. In a number of different media from sculpture to paint, this body of work highlights the variety of artistic output seen in the Michigan art scene.
A wide array of creativity, as well as contribution from a GVSU educator makes his exhibition, as well as the UICA’s rotating collection as a whole, is a highly valuable learning opportunity for GVSU students.
“I definitely think Grand Valley students should come because one of your professors’ work is featured,” Executive Director of the UICA and Curator of “Coming Home” Miranda Krajniak said. “Emily Nareja’s work is fantastic. It’s been featured in the New York Times many times, (and) she’s working on a national scale. Grand Valley students are incredibly lucky to have her.”
Krajniak also spoke on the UICA’s efforts to be on the forefront of artistic expression, both creatively and socially. Specifically, she worked hard to ensure “Coming Home” highlighted the Institute’s goal to represent diversity both in their featured artists and exhibit attendees.
“All of the UICA’s exhibitions should highlight diversity,” Krajniak said. “Diversity and equity both in our audience and artists is very important to us. We are very thoughtful as to how our exhibitions reflect the greater community. We’ve been very intentional about ‘Coming Home’ in this regard.”
“Coming Home” also represents a departure from the usual style of exhibition the UICA features. By highlighting each artist’s work as a separate exhibition, the Institute aims to highlight each body of work as unique and important in its own right.
“(Each artist) has their own little show within ‘Coming Home,’” Krajniak said. “We’ve called it a suite of solo exhibitions. I really thought it was important to highlight a variety of different mediums. Sculpture has not been a thing the UICA has a strong history with, and I wanted to start thinking about sculpture and ensuring we have that representation (from Jason Quigno.)”
This exhibition is sure to be highly valuable to any student here at GVSU. Whether it be seeing the work from a GVSU professor, or simply experiencing the variety of creative output from Michigan artists, “Coming Home” is a learning opportunity for students of any artistic medium. “Coming Home” will be available to view until Jan. 25, 2019.