March 10, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A typical morning in the Grand Rapids Community College pottery studio is quiet, but students from local high schools recently filled the studio with laughter, hundreds of pounds of clay, and friendly competition.
Students participating in ArtCamp raced against the clock and each other to break a record for the tallest coil pot. Students stood on chairs and feverishly rolled coil after coil of clay, attempting to make their pot stand over 44 ¾ inches without collapsing.
The idea is to give high school students a glimpse into GRCC’s Visual Arts programs, and raise awareness of the possibilities of the arts in higher education.
Throughout the half-day camp, students rotated through classrooms, with each 30-minute class focusing on a different discipline. Students gained hands-on experience with drawing, photography, pottery, and graphic design. They also learned about art history and the Visual Arts programs, ending their day with a campus tour.
This year five high schools brought nearly 100 art students to campus, many unaware of the opportunities to pursue further education in the arts.
Twelve years ago, professor Scott Garrard introduced the idea to the Visual Arts faculty as an opportunity to connect to the community and recruit new students.
Department members were excited about the camp, and with the help of professor Katie Budden, they created the event that students experience today.
"ArtCamp was an immediate success,” Garrard said. “Area high schools have truly enjoyed participating in the event. Many of the visiting students are currently enrolled at GRCC and in art classes. Next year, the event is expanding from one ArtCamp Day a year to two ArtCamp Days, one in the fall and one in the winter semester. This expansion will double the area's high schools and the number of students able to attend.”
GRCC’s Visual Arts program is one of six at community colleges in the nation with a National Association of Schools of Art and Design accreditation.
The program offers Associate of Fine Art degrees in both studio and photography as well as Associate of Arts degrees for students interested in a general arts education.
Many Visual Arts students graduate and transfer to four-year schools and even receive scholarships for their portfolio reviews.
More information about the Visual Arts Programs can be found at grcc.edu/VisualArts.