Art can become toys and books, make sound and light — even turn into huge murals and sculptures, learned wide-eyed preschoolers during Artwalk, a morning set aside in downtown Grand Rapids just for little ones and their families.
The city stroll, part of Project 1 by ArtPrize, led to the discovery of art in many forms for students from Grand Rapids Public Schools, Headstart, Grand Rapids Community College’s Laboratory Preschool, and Grand Valley State University charter schools.
Multi-sensory stations included crafting, a storybook reading and puppet show, with several art-creating opportunities tied to the event’s large-scale installations along a route through Ah-Nab-Awen Park, over the Blue Bridge, past the Grand Rapids Public Museum and to Rosa Parks Circle. Stations were run by WGVU, Artists Creating Together, PNC Bank, puppeteer Kevin Kammeraad and Friends, Air Zoo, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Frederik Meijer Gardens and West Michigan Jewels of Africa.
“We want to serve all ages, and learning starts from birth,” said Becca Guyette, director of learning and engagement for ArtPrize. “It’s really important to find opportunities to work with preschoolers… This gives us an opportunity to connect directly back to the classroom curriculum for the early childhood groups.”
Laura Brokstad played with her preschool daughter, Dylann, at the Air Zoo’s sound and light station. She said it’s nice to see children exposed to arts in the community. “There is definitely a need, and she enjoys it too,” Brokstad said.
Most importantly, the event — like Project 1 itself — was about bringing everyone together for a morning of fun, art-filled learning.
“Project 1 is all about belonging, so we asked the artists to think about what it means to belong in the city,” Guyette said. “Having events like this really brings everyone together to have experiences with the art.”