Recent Grads Shine a Light on Local Creative Community in Gallery/Studio Space
Less than a year ago, as Matthew Provoast and Erika Townsley were preparing to graduate from the Photography program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), their dreams for the future were still just that: dreams. But in the short time since, they’ve put all of their energy into making those dreams a reality.
Alumni Matthew Provoast and Erika Townsley (credit: Matthew Provoast Photography)
Provoast and Townsley are now the proud owners and operators of Light Gallery + Studio, one of the newest additions to the Avenue for the Arts in the Heartside neighborhood of downtown Grand Rapids. Since opening in September of 2016, the space has quickly embraced the inclusive culture and creative community the Avenue has long been known for.
Exterior of Light Gallery + Studio (credit: Matthew Provoast Photography)
“Our space fosters growth for local artists, makers, and community members. We can utilize our space for fine art exhibitions, our local artisan shop, and hosting/participating in workshops and artist talks,” says Provoast. “We work hard to offer our space to creatives at an affordable cost, and to create a place for people to come together and celebrate art and handmade goods.”
Light Gallery + Studio’s versatile interior - complete with moveable walls, handmade by Provoast and Townsley with the help of friends and family, and constantly changing floor plans - has enabled a wide variety of events. A grand opening exhibition featured exclusively local artwork, while a collaboration with budding student curators from Grand Valley State University resulted in an exhibition of work from nationally recognized metal artist Kim Cridler.
(above): Artist Kim Cridler interacts with visitors to her exhibition at Light Gallery + Studio; (below): A visitor to Light Gallery + Studio explores the work from local artists on display (credit: Matthew Provoast Photography)
Provoast and Townsley have been interfacing with the local community in other ways too. Over the holiday season, Light Gallery + Studio collaborated with local nonprofit Arbor Circle to facilitate a donation drive that collected a number of winter coats, gloves, and personal hygiene items for homeless youths in West Michigan.
Currently, Provoast and Townsley are focusing on further developing their Local Artisans Shop, featuring handmade goods, vintage finds, furniture, and artwork from local artists and makers. The pair are also continually seeking upcoming artists and makers interested in sharing their work, offering exhibition space rental on a weekly basis, consignment contracts for the Local Artisans Shop, and one- and two-day workshop space rentals.
Light Gallery + Studio's open floorplan allows for versatility in exhibitions and other programming (credit: Matthew Provoast Photography)
“With a lot of hard work, dedication, long nights, and lots of help, this space has flourished into a place we now call home,” says Provoast. “As students at KCAD, we dreamed of having a space like this after graduation. Now it’s happening, and we couldn’t be more full of gratitude.”
Learn more about KCAD’s Photography program at kcad.edu/photography.