Drawing a Storyboard
Kids in Art Class

Teen Art Program

The mission of our teen art program (ages 13-18) is to encourage creative problem-solving, fostering artistic exploration and experimentation, and for students to develop critical thought and to support their interpretations and opinions as they respond to art.  


Within this work, teens have the opportunity to respond to their world, to their own art, and to the art of others. Students learn that the arts may initiate change as well as being a response to change.

Courses are eight weeks long, and the first five weeks are guided lessons to exercise or hone techniques, where students focus on both process, techniques, and product-based work.  Once they have learned the techniques or materials, they are encouraged to brainstorm, problem-solve, research, explore and experiment to make individual and innovative works of art.  In these last three weeks, teachers provide guidance and support as students use the tools and lessons that they have learned to create their own art. What emerges from the courses is a technical skill, but also a confidence in their own art-making and creativity.  

If interested, our teen students can choose to take on leadership roles.  Teens can choose to be mentors to our youngest artists or to support work with the annual exhibition. The teaching opportunity includes calling them to step up into the responsibility and privilege of being a mentor and teacher.  Teens who choose to support the art exhibition will learn curatorial practices - preparing work, and learning the business of art as they market the show, create the exhibition catalog, and more. Our teaching artists offer guidance and support to teens, mentoring with each experience. This also creates an opportunity for teens to volunteer in the community and is a great skill to list on college applications.  

We end each class with a “group share” or critique experience.  Here students practice the language of art and design, have a sense of community, and receive positive reinforcement for their work.  Students may share a larger piece they are working on, a piece from home, or a sketchbook exploration.   

Sketchbooks are given to each student to collect and store ideas that will become starting points for works of art in the future. These visual journals allow students to enhance their skills of observation and image-making in order to process more detailed information. Some examples of sketchbook activities are illustrating poems and short stories, designing and illustrating commercial advertisements, observational drawings, photo collages, and mixed media experimentation.

A goal for the (9-12) program is to have three group trips each year; one in the fall, winter, and spring.  Branching out to explore the city and connect our lessons with the outside.  Group trips may be at a community garden, the James C Veen Observatory,  Rosa Parks Circle, or others in and around the Grand Rapids area. The trips are thematically designed to engage children in art/science/nature beyond the classroom walls, and we will practice art skills like urban sketching or Plein air painting.  

Occasionally, a guest artist will come to visit the classroom to demonstrate a unique craft or skill. Some ideas of artists may include a video game designer, regionally exhibited printmaker, interior designer, museum curator, or fashion designer. This experience further develops their understanding that art is everywhere, and expands their horizons of art as a career.  


Classes are very small, with 12 students to 1 teacher. 


Classes are two hours long, run for 8-week sessions, and are weekly. 

How is Cultivate different from other spaces?

Meet our Teachers

Student Gallery of Work

Current Courses for Teens

Courses are labeled with the location. Courses at East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation require registration through their website, and requires making a free account.  If you have any questions with registration, please email education@cultivategrandrapids.org

Modern Collage

In this class, we will explore, build, and innovate with collage! Each week will feature a different era of collage genre, from found objects to sewing onto collage, to more modern approaches like picture juxtapositions. We will work from themes and make work that is meaningful and important to the student.  

Schedule: Monday-Thursday, July 25-July 28, 12:30-1:30

Location:  East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation

Frequently Asked Questions 

Field Trips and Student Groups

Scholarships and Financial Aid

"My son aboslutely loved your online comics class! He said he could do this forever!" 

- Parent of fourteen-year-old student

"I was a little bit nervous to sign up because I didn't know anyone, but everyone was so nice and supportive.  I made a lot of friends and we're all doing the next class." 

- Sixteen-year-old student

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