Arts2Grow, an Alma College service learning group, dedicates itself to bringing art to Gratiot County communities in partnership with the Alma Community Art Center (ACAC).
ACAC was established five years ago as a partnership between the Creative Arts Guild of Mid-Michigan, Alma College, Pine River Arts Council and Gratiot County K-12 Schools.
Alma College students, staff and faculty have played important roles in ACAC planning and programming since the beginning. For example, the Alma College Art Department provided an active mentoring program to local youth while ACAC was located in downtown Alma.
Arts and Crafts at Masonic
ACAC no longer has a base location and instead travels to a variety of public spaces to hold classes. As a result, Arts2Grow had to find an alternative space to share its artistic insight.
Annamarie Williams, a senior from Midland and the student president of the Kappa Pi Art Honorary at Alma College, had been volunteering at Masonic Pathways, a senior living facility in Alma, for over a year. She determined that “If Arts2Grow can’t bring the community to us, then Arts2Grow will go to them!”
This January Arts2Grow took over the arts and crafts sessions at Masonic Pathways. With this endeavor, Williams decided to expand Arts2Grow to include all members of Art Club and Kappa Pi in the volunteer opportunity.
“Although we are not art therapists, we hope that while catering our crafts to residents’ needs we can bring a calming element to our projects, and, more importantly, fun,” says Williams.
Crafting, Comic Books and the Visual Arts
In the January session, students and a resident collaborated on a watercolor piece.
“Upon the work’s completion and reveal it brought a smile to the face of all the residents,” says Williams. “I think the most important thing to remember during these sessions is that we as students are still young, and perhaps we are learning more from our elders than they are learning from us.”
Another session hosted by Arts2Grow at Masonic Pathways was utilizing clay to make Valentine’s Day-themed ornaments. Other ongoing partnerships between Arts2Grow and the community include crafting with local Girl Scout troops and a recent comic book creation session.
ACAC also is involved in teaching visual arts classes to students with significant disabilities in Alma and St. Louis schools. In addition, members teach classes at the Commission on Aging nutrition sites throughout the county and are involved in several arts based fundraisers for special needs.
“ACAC welcomes the energy and expertise of the Alma College students in our mission to bring the arts to the community and the community to the arts,” says ACAC President Diane Clise.