The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Revamped Grin City Collective fuses art, service

Situated on the charming, sprawling Lacina farm stands the Grin City Collective, with a revamped objective. Formerly known as the Grinnell Artist Residency, the program aims to bring together individuals who not only wish to further explore their artistic abilities but to impact the community through social service.

Residents of Grin City Collective pose for a photo. Photograph contributed.

Grin City Collective offers a fresh, innovative approach by fusing an artist residency with the service component of a volunteer corps, according to the Collective’s website. The program welcomes both artists and non-artists dedicated to service work and creativity.

For Molly Rideout ’10, Grin City Collective Residency Coordinator, responsibilities are numerous as part of a unique residency program.

“I oversee development, I’m a grant writer, I am the administrator, I pick up all the artists from the airport,” Rideout said.

Rideout’s enthusiasm shone through during a tour of the studios and the residence, as she illuminated on the purpose of the Collective.

“Its mission is to create a space that allows artists to create very socially dynamic and diverse, new, and perhaps transgressive systems of art, and making them socially applicable,” Rideout said.

The idea of making art “socially applicable” differentiates the Grin City Collective from other artist residencies, and reflects the program’s changes since the transition from the former title of the program.

“We want to redefine the idea of what makes an artist,” Rideout said, while passing by the various types of studios which support pursuits such as pottery-making, music, and writing, among other outlets of creativity.

By redefining the often narrow definition of art, Grin City aims to take the exclusivity out of being an artist, and thereby, to incorporate the community at large, reminding all that any creative pursuit can be considered art.

“We want to show people that, hey, that quilting you do on the weekend is art,” Rideout said.

While the Collective is an artist residency, the ideal applicant is not necessarily a master in their field.

“Really, we want people who are interested in art, and who prove that they are interested,” Rideout said.

Though much the program is focused on the individual pursuit of artistry, Rideout stressed that the importance of volunteering is equally important.

“Someone who doesn’t have a strong art portfolio should have a strong interest in interacting with the community,” she said.

Kelly Musselman ’11, one of the 2011 Iowa Emerging Artist Residents, entered the program with a goal of writing a collection of poems to be published on paper sculptures.

“The opportunity also allowed me to experiment with my poetic sensibilities,” she said. “I wrote totally different kinds of poems than my typical work.”

Although her sculpture did not turn out to be as grandiose as she had planned, she is satisfied with her end product.

The most continuous part of the Grin City Collective has been the summer residency program, which has been offered for five years thus far. The program has reached far beyond small town Iowa—this past summer, Grin City received forty applications nationwide. The Collective hopes to further extend its reach as it engages new goals and plans for the spring residency program.

One does not have to join the residency in order to support the Collective and its mission of community building, however. There are other opportunities available such as donations, sponsoring an artist or a day of community service work, or becoming a “citizen” of Grin City (more information can be found on

This weekend on Saturday, November 12, will be an unveiling of the revamped program with an Open House and Open Studio, along with an energy conservation workshop, where you can meet the artists-in-residence and learn from them.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *