The UICA’s national-award-winning ArtWorks Youth Program unveiled a new mural at 106 South Division! Led by local artist Erwin Erkfitz, twelve of the ArtWorks student participants from area schools designed and painted the mural on a wall at the Avenue for the Arts. This student-created first phase of the mural was unveiled to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony along with ArtWorks student artists and representatives from Avenue of the Arts and ArtWorks program sponsor Herman Miller.

The second phase of this mural project will be completed by Erwin Erkfitz, who guided the ArtWorks students in creating the first phase of the mural. Erkfitz’s mural, which will be located directly above the students’ mural, will be inspired by the students’ design and his portion will be entered into ArtPrize 2012.

The mural is a powerful, lasting public symbol of the UICA ArtWorks-Avenue for the Arts collaboration, and highlights the important role the Avenue for the Arts and UICA’s ArtWorks program play in engaging youth in the arts and cultural life in Grand Rapids.

In 2012, UICA’s ArtWorks Youth Program received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest honor youth programs can receive in the United States. First Lady Michelle Obama recognized ArtWorks as a leading example of a community-based arts and humanities programs that makes a marked difference in the lives of their participants by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, developing positive relationships and expressing themselves creatively. ArtWorks was created to ready young people ages 14–21 for 21st century creative careers.