Arts & Entertainment

Maggie Vance guest curates UICA Shop for summer

June 7, 2013
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Maggie Vance guest curates UICA Shop for the summer
The UICA Shop in downtown Grand Rapids features local artists and handmade goods. Courtesy UICA

Beginning Saturday, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts Shop will feature handmade goods by 15 regional artists for the summer.

Maggie Vance — who received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Grand Valley State University and has been employed with the UICA for two years as a visitor services associate — was invited to curate the space.

Guest curation

The UICA Shop changes seasonally and invites guest curators to re-imagine the space and feature talented Grand Rapids artists and crafters.

“Curating is an important role, because art is not made in a vacuum, and curators are the ones who arrange and re-arrange how art is grouped, defined and presented to the world,” Vance said. “To some extent, they are the invisible middleman that makes connections between others’ creative ideas.

“Curating the Shop has been fun, because I was able to choose merchandise that I really like for a variety of reasons,” Vance said. “I was able to express my broad sense of taste by having practical items and ‘just because’ items.

“I want the Shop to be really diversified and cater to many people’s interests, from really quirky objects to lovely works on paper and a lot of in between," she said. "It has been gratifying to see the vision come together by choosing a general feel for the Shop with the window display and wall color, but it is also about pairing merchandise together that may not normally be seen side by side on display.”

"Visible handmade quality"

Artists presented in the shop are mostly from Grand Rapids, as well as a few from Detroit and Chicago.

“When choosing artists, I first focused on those who worked with a lot of pattern and color: Monica Lloyd, Elizabeth Uitvlugt and Anthony Mead are some of the first artists that came to mind,” Vance said. “From there, it was just about developing variety and finding the trends I wanted to display. I really like work with character, so items with visible handmade quality or personality I was drawn to. Grand Rapids has a great artist/artisan community to work with, because of all the creative ideas that makers have.”

The shop will have a variety of items available, including jewelry and other wearable items, ceramics, works on paper, stationary and household items.

"Endless" ideas

Vance highlighted a few of the artists whose work was chosen for its uniqueness.

“Kelly McKaig is an artist from Chicago, and I worked with her as a studio assistant," she said. "I chose her work, because Kelly’s concepts are endless. I really enjoy her practice and ethics when it comes to making work. Her bracelets are from hand-died fabrics, and the dies are derived from her garden or leftover onionskins from cooking.

“Elizabeth Uitvlugt is an artist from Grand Rapids," Vance said. "She also is someone who has endless ideas. I love what she created specifically for the UICA Shop. They are small stuffed animal characters that she handmade and then she did a small illustration to go with each. There are only five —  get them while you can!”

The items will be available at UICA Shop through Aug. 31.

UICA members receive a 10 percent discount on purchases from the Shop.

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