Laura is an artist, designer, & educator living in Detroit. She received a Master of Fine Art from University of Michigan 2015, and a dual Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Art + Art Education in 2012 . She's professionally worked with Stamps School of Art and Design as Engagement Coordinator, Director of CAN Art & Design at Community Action Network, Director at FLY Children's Art Center, and held research and teaching positions at Adrian College, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and Core77.
Laura’s creative practice merges her background in Art Education with contemporary methods of Social Practice. She strives to bring folks together through innovative pedagogy, intention, and most importantly - play. She’s implemented pop-up, play-centered projects in collaboration with Toledo Museum of Art, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Lake Superior State University, Humane Society of Huron Valley, Rainbow Kitchen Community Services in Pittsburgh, and Mitchell Elementary School and STEAM @ Northside Elementary in Ann Arbor.
2012 - 2015 MASTER OF FINE ARTS
University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design
2007 - 2012 BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS, ART EDUCATION + STUDIO ART West Virginia University, School of Art & Design
2016 - PRESENT COMMUNITY ACTION NETWORK (CAN)
Director of CAN Art & Design | www.canartdesign.org
Directed after school and summer art & design program through Community Action Network, a social services agency in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Program operated in six community centers, served over 300 under resourced K-12 youth, and operated with an annual staff of four consisting of University of Michigan graduate student interns and AmeriCorps VISTAS.
2016 - 2018 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
Social Engagement Coordinator | www.stamps.umich.edu/about/social_engagement
Coordinated the Social Engagement program, which enables student-faculty-community collaborations, courses, and research. Co-developed engagement courses to ethically and creatively create placemaking opportunities in the Ann Arbor – Detroit area. Directed the Schara artist-in-resident program which operates in Detroit Public Schools.
2016 ADRIAN COLLEGE, ART & DESIGN
Developed and taught 2D foundations course in the Art & Design Department at Adrian College.
2016 FLY CHILDREN’S ART CENTER
Directed after school and summer art programs operating in two community centers and three elementary schools in Ypsilanti MI. Program served over 100 students annually and operated with an annual staff of 4 consisting of Eastern Michigan University interns, teaching artists, and co-director.
2016 STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN PRE-COLLEGE PROGRAM
Portfolio Preparation Instructor
Developed and taught an intensive summer course for high school students in preparation for the college art school application process. Course covered internal reflections and artist statements, website and artist brand design, and photography.
2016 MATERIOUS + UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Research Assistant: Discursive Design | www.core77.com/discursive-design
Managed content database, researched, corresponded with designers/design firms for the book, Discursive Design published by MIT. Researched, managed, and prepared articles written for Core77 Discursive Design channel.
2015 - 2016 PITTSBURGH CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Developed and taught out of school art programs for K-5 youth.
2013 - 2015 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
Graduate Student Instructor, Detroit Connections
Co-taught undergraduate social engagement courses with an art education and placemaking focus in Detroit Public Schools.
2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, PRISON CREATIVE ARTS PROJECT
Digital Database Visual Resource Manager
Managed imagery, content, and data created in Michigan prisons through the Prison Creative Arts Project.
2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
Research Assistant: Research in Creative Opportunities in Rural Communities
Researched creative opportunities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in which Stamps School of Art & Design could potentially engage with, learn from, and collaborate with.
2012 - 2013 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
Graduate Student Instructor, Art & Design Perspectives
Co-taught undergraduate art history-based courses, managed grading and assignments, and led weekly discussion sections.
2012 WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
North Elementary School and Morgantown High School
2018 - PRESENT CITY OF DETROIT
Grand River Block Club President
Founded and ran a city-affiliated block club on the corner of Grand River and Warren in Detroit. Block club held meetings, organized neighborhood clean-ups, participated in community events, managed community garden, and organized neighborhood improvement projects.
2019 - 2020 CULTURE SOURCE
Culture Maker Fellowship
Participated in monthly creative workshops and discussions along with other arts-based professionals in Washtenaw County, Michigan. The culmination of the fellowship resulted in a plan to make the arts more accessible to a more diverse range of residents in the community.
2019 - PRESENT YOUTH ART MONTH, ANN ARBOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Committee Member | www.mainstreetannarbor.org/youthartmonth
Participated in a committee that managed Youth Art Month in collaboration with Ann Arbor businesses. Developed and co-ran an artist-in-resident program that placed artists in Ann Arbor Public Schools, co-directed downtown K-12 student exhibitions/installations and family workshops.
2016 - 2018 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
National Engagement Committee
During my role as Social Engagement Coordinator at Stamps, I led the National Engagement Committee. The NEC discussed and implemented strategies to engage university projects and learning with communities, schools, and organizations across the country with a heavy focus on Southeast Michigan.
2015 - 2016 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, RESIDENTIAL COLLEGE & AVALON HOUSING
Artist in Residence
Worked with an afterschool art therapy program at Avalon Housing. This included 15 resident teenagers and 15 college students who led weekly workshops. My role included mentoring college students in their arts workshops and engaging teenagers in creative making and discussions.
2015 - 2016 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STAMPS SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
Michele Schara Artist & Designer in Residence
Taught weekly for one school year in a 4th grade classroom at Bennett Elementary in Detroit. This curriculum taught students about basic art foundations while bringing playground aspects into the classroom. Students created a series of stackable, lockable astroturf blocks that can transform a room into just about any imaginative place.
2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, RACKHAM SCHOOL FOR PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
Institute for Social Change Fellow
Participated in a summer fellowship to study methods for bringing equity, diversity, and social change to the university classroom through a series of lectures, workshops, and a short partnership with the Historic Society of Hamtramck, MI.
2014 - 2015 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, CENTER FOR ENGAGED ACADEMIC LEARNING, RACKHAM SCHOOL FOR PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
Engaged Pedagogy Initiative Fellow
Engaged in a yearlong fellowship to study public scholarship, participated in workshops and lectures, and learned how to appropriately and sensitively create a syllabus to engage university students with communities.
2013 NEW PACIFIC STUDIO, MOUNT BRUCE NEW ZEALAND
Artist in Residence
Lived in the NPS home for seven weeks while creating a series of drawings that reflected the history of the studio home. Held a two-person show, along with another AIR which displayed this artwork at the Aratoi Museum of Art.
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT & FACILITATION
2018 - 2019 COMMUNITY ACTION NETWORK + KABOOM! IN ANN ARBOR, MI
Bryant Community Court
Worked with the Bryant community to design and construct a unique basketball court that is permanently installed at Bryant Community Center. The court features a series of four circular concrete pads and three drop shots to promote inclusivity. Each concrete pad is painted with a mural representing the neighborhood.
2017 TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART IN TOLEDO, OH
Elements of Play
Worked with the Education Department of the TMA to run a weeklong design course for high school students in which they created a series of outdoor sidewalk games. These educational and playful games were installed for six months on the grounds around the museum.
2016 POPPS PACKING IN DETROIT, MI
Mobile Toy Box
Built and facilitated a wooden, mobile toy box that served as a pop-up playground in vacant Detroit neighborhoods.
2014 - 2015 LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY, NATIVE AMERICAN CENTER & OJIBWE CHARTER SCHOOL, MI GEAR UP
IN SAULT STE. MARIE, MI
Creative College Prep Workshop Series // Collaborated with the Director of the Native American Center in Sault Ste. Marie, MI to create a unique college preparation
2014 - 2016 ANN ARBOR STEAM @ NORTHSIDE + BECKETT & RAEDAR IN ANN ARBOR, MI
Co-developed a yearlong, public school arts curriculum in which K-5 students designed their new school playground. Worked with local architects and contractors to translate the children’s’ designs into a feasible playground that was built and is currently in use.
2014 RAINBOW KITCHEN COMMUNITY SERVICES + CLARK MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH IN PITTSBURGH, PA HCC ( HOMESTEAD CREATIVE COLLECTIVE)
Developed and ran a six-week summer arts program in the Pittsburgh borough, Homestead with a weekly attendance of 20 elementary-aged students. This program focused on music, writing, and visual arts with a community-focus.
2014 EKETAHUNA COMMUNITY CENTER IN EKETAHUNA, NEW ZEALAND
Youth Arts Program
Co-facilitated a Saturday youth arts program in collaboration with local public school art teachers.
AWARDS & GRANTS
2018 KABOOM! PLAY EVERYWHERE CHALLENGE with Community Action Network
2015 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
North Campus Deans’ Dr. Martin Luther King Spirit Award
2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Barbara Trytten Richardson Graduate Student Award
2014 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Rackham Conference Travel Grant
2014UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Smucker Wagstaff Creative Research Grant
2013 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Rackham Conference Travel Grant
2010 - 2012 WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY Fine Arts Full Scholarship Award
2011 AMERICORPS, CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL & COMMUNITY SERVICE Presidential Service Award
2017 ART & EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE SYMPOSIUM, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY Access, Equity, and Engagement in After-School, Community-Based Art
2015 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Connecting Curriculum
2015 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ENGAGED PEDAGOGY INITIATIVE SYMPOSIUM Inclusive Discourse & Accessibility
2014 PRE-COLLEGE AND YOUTH OUTREACH CONFERENCE, WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY Honoring Community Through Individual Education