UICA supports local artists with Christmas market

This past weekend the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA )helped Christmas present shoppers through its annual Holiday Artists Market, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. Here, the UICA featured local artists selling their work to the Grand Rapids community. Although the UICA sponsored the event, it did not host it at their downtown space; instead, artists and customers gathered at the Steelcase Town Hall for the event.

The UICA’s mission, listed on their website, is “to build a creative community by fostering new forms of expression, promoting collaboration and providing genuine experiences with contemporary art.” One of the ways UICA does this is by creating a space for vibrant local artists to share and sell their work, just in time for the busy holiday season.

The town hall included approximately 80 artists, musicians and food vendors selling their specialties. There were a variety of items to buy ranging from coffee to clothes. Some vendors even offered delicate paper goods and handmade pottery. Food vendors included: Lantern Coffee, Malamiah Juice Bar, Patty Matters Food Truck and D&D Gluten Free Food Truck.

Several Calvin students attended the event, including seniors Rachel Vos and Rebekah Courtney.

“I am someone who chooses to shop locally because I love picking out one-of-a-kind gifts for my friends and family,” said Courtney. “Most of my family is in the Chicagoland area, and it is always a treat to tell them that the gift I bought them is supporting local Michigan artists!”

One of the artists at the event was Andrea Nelson, from NelsonStudio125. Nelson specializes in products from functional ceramics to sculptural, felt-ball necklaces to concrete lightbulb hooks. It was her second year participating in the UICA Holiday Artists’ Market, a supportive community which Nelson is grateful to be a part of.

“We live in a world where so many things are mass-produced,” said Nelson. “Supporting local artists provides the opportunity to own or give something unique and hand crafted. It also brings the community together and helps define the character of community. There’s also the economic impact: by supporting local artists, more money stays in the community.”