CultureWorks 2018, a short film by Jack Burk


Cultureworks in the community

Thanks to everyone who made it possible for us to expand our programming into the Holland community over the past year!

In beautiful downtown Holland, Treehuis hosted our Character Design and Advanced Digital Photography studios.  It was wonderful to introduce our students to the concept of a collaborative professional workspace and gain access to nearby parks and 8th street.  Additionally, our Student Advisory Council discussed the need for a theater class, so we offered that at the historic Park Theatre this past semester.  Students gained confidence and skills in character development, memorization, and storytelling as they staged their own versions of the True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the Frog Prince, Continued.  We also held a class at the Outdoor Discovery Center, where we were able to explore the trails, draw birds of prey from life, and create characters from natural elements.  And, we offered a Book Club Arts class at the Herrick Library, where students worked with a professional illustrator, developed characters and settings, and wrote poetry and short narratives with a student from Hope College majoring in creative writing.  

2019 tulip time - kinderplaats innovation lab

Thanks to all the volunteers and artists who helped bring the visual arts to Innovation lab this year!

We explored the intersection of visual art, data, mathematics, and design, through weaving, LEGO patterning, and printmaking. Erin Drews led demonstrations in 3D weaving, visually capturing data about tulip varieties in Holland and the eating habits of participants. Chuck Cusack, who teaches computer programming and mathematics at Hope College engaged young and old with new perspectives on Latin squares, fractal designs, and the Fibonacci sequence, and the kids lit up at the chance to create their own patterns with LEGO bricks. And, Cassidy Middleton helped our student advisors lead fractal printmaking with acrylic paints.

2019 LAUP Fiesta

It was a beautiful day to celebrate Latino culture and heritage in Holland, MI!

Erin Drews and Abbie Lopez taught participants about the art of bordados, and helped young and old experiment with the tradition of drawing with thread. The rest of our crew of student helpers assisted with printmaking beautiful cards with the native flora of Latin America. Thank you, amazing volunteers! And we are so blessed to add Erin Drews on staff this summer, and Abbie Lopez as a summer intern!

2018 Cultureworks Award for Creativity in Leadership

Each year, we ask our instructors to nominate students who have exhibited exceptional creativity and leadership in CultureWorks. From these nominations we select one student who:

  • Displays remarkable creative talent as a young artist or designer

  • Actively cares for the community as a creative leader

  • Exhibits a collaborative spirit and the ability to genuinely listen to and communicate well with peers on projects

  • Finally, the recipient of this award has found the community of CultureWorks to be a significant part of their creative and personal development.

We had quite a few to choose from this year who were amazing in so many ways, but 5th year student megan Hotchkiss stood out for her ability to collaborate creatively with others and bring people together through her art and music.  Congratulations, Megan, and thanks for sharing your music and your stories with us at our annual fall benefit! 

Boys & Girls clubs summer workshops

During the summer of 2018, CultureWorks offered 4 workshops at both the north side and south side boys and girls clubs in Holland.  

We had a blast with acrylics, calligraphy, Suminagashi and Ebru paper marbling and drawing.  Check out all our photos here.

Awakening - Hope College

In June of 2018, cultureworks executive director Emily CHRISTENSen joined the staff of awakening, a week long camp for those interested in worship and the arts in the christian church.

We explored the history of the visual arts in the church across cultures and what it means to pursue our creative work with honesty, excellence, and vulnerability.  Students led a beautiful 2-hour celebration of worship at the end of the week.  Learn more about awakening here:  or connect with them on Facebook: 

Student work on exhibit at Lakeshore Health Partners

We are so grateful for the opportunity to display student artwork at Lakeshore Health Partners!  Please stop by, and visit the gallery.

904 South Washington Ave.

Holland, MI  49423

Outdoor Discovery Center - Ecosystem Exploration Day 

Cultureworks Emily CHRISTENS led a nature drawing breakout session for the oDC exploration day in March, 2018.  Over 680 students attended, and an estimated 350 worked on sketches and learned about the history of naturalism, how drawing from nature impacts film and book illustration, and how drawing from life can help us see better and think more creatively.


Third Reformed Church Community art night

With help from the magnificent ava, cultureworks offered a paper marbling and ink workshop at 3rd reformed church community art night, January 2018

BiG read 2016 - story, art, community

CultureWorks joined and the Big Read Student Advisory Team to host an afternoon of art in response to story.  Featuring unique immigration stories from West Michigan young adults followed by a creative response led by a local artist.  November, 2016

fall 2015

PEOPLE LIKE US | A short film exploring the stigmas + shame surrounding mental illness. (3:08) 


With a goal of creating a youth leadership council, we piloted an Open Studio class in February of 2015. Now in it’s third session, each lasting twelve weeks, our Open Studio class, aka “The League of Legendary Leaders,” have taken their work to a new level. Each month, students select a topic of interest affecting them and their peers, explore it to understand more deeply, create collaboratively and engage the community.

Their latest collaborative effort, “People Like Us,” won the Judge’s award for “Best Film” in the student category of the Saugatuck Shorts Film Festival. The top ten submissions from 2015's film competition, chosen by a panel of judges from the entertainment industry, were enjoyed by over 200 people at the festival on November 7th. The students received a $500 prize and announced to the audience that they agreed as a group to donate the award to CultureWorks, so that others would be able to have experiences like this.

The class instructor Erin Drews explains, “The students were all very passionate about the topic of mental illness, because they all have come into contact with it at some level and see it as real, tangible and raw.” Jack Burk, the volunteer videographer said, “it was encouraging to see the 14 and 15-year-olds uniting over a common cause, and caring about things that matter.” The short film, which creatively challenges stigmas surrounding mental illness can be viewed here.

Karyl Morin, Executive Director of CultureWorks, noted the emotion that is evoked by the film. “The powerful message of empathy in response to the stigma of mental illness shows the great depth our youth can offer when encouraged to apply their creative confidence on a topic of their choosing. Our high school open studio at CultureWorks is a place for students to be leaders for positive change through creating in community.”

Odalis Medellin, CultureWorks student and member of the League of Legendary Leaders said she was “proud about what the group had accomplished, and excited to be part of something that has the potential to help people.”