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On a beautiful fall day in Grand Rapids, more than 250 neighbors sat down to a locally grown community meal. There they explored their differences and similarities, food traditions of different cultures and healthy food access in the Heartside Park community. The meal was the culmination of months of educational programming offered by the URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS (UICA), which was supported by ITC’s Charitable Giving Program. On Oct. 6 ‘The Heartside Community Meal,’ part of UICA’s Cultivate exhibition, took home the top award at the ninth annual ArtPrize competition, one of the highest attended public art events in the world.

“The UICA staff and volunteers, as well as the hundreds of people that participated, are grateful for the support from ITC that made this project possible. Work by contemporary artists like Seitu Jones have a true social impact, and we’re honored by ITC’s help creating artwork that addressed access to healthy, locally-grown food that also celebrates the Heartside community’s culture,” said UICA Executive Director Miranda Krajniak.

Cultivate was a curated group show that used food as a lens to examine cultural history, social equity, and the effects of globalization on communities. UICA partnered with renowned artist Seitu Jones, who worked with local organizations including the Heartside Gleaning Initiative, Urban Roots and Dwelling Place Properties to explore community foodways, issues of access and equity, and urban farming projects. Jones, who is from Minneapolis-St. Paul, has created over 30 large-scale public artworks, was millennium artist-in-residence for 651 Arts in Brooklyn, NY, and was the City of Minneapolis’ first Artist-in-Residence. Jones has been awarded a number of prestigious designations and currently teaches Urban Food Systems at the University of Minnesota and is on the faculty of Goddard College in Port Townsend, WA.

“ITC is proud to support the UICA and ArtPrize, which together through this event were able to connect new audiences to contemporary art in such a unique and inspiring way,” said Donna Zalewski, director, Local Government & Community Affairs and Philanthropy, ITC Holdings Corp. 

The ITC Charitable Giving Program

The ITC Charitable Giving Program focuses on five key areas to help strengthen our communities and reflect the values of ITC. Those include education, environmental stewardship, social services, health & wellness and arts & culture.

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