Spurred by the success of UI students’ collaborations with Iowa communities, the Office of Community Engagement and the Grant Wood Art Colony are offering the Be a Public Artist workshop.



Arts as Community Engagement Workshop

This two-day, intensive workshop is open to UI undergraduate and graduate students who have the skills and aptitude for visual and performing arts in the public sphere. 

Attendees will learn about innovative practices and techniques through a series of expert speakers as well as have time to work on personal projects alongside working professionals.     

Students who successfully complete the two-day residency will be eligible to answer future requests for publicly engaged art by Iowa communities. Each year, the Office of Community Engagement receives more requests for community art than it can currently meet. Attendees will have first dibs on these projects.

Mural mosaic

Be a Public Artist 

Hosted by the Grant Wood Art Colony, a program of the Office of Community Engagement. 

"I learned more in that one week than I had in my entire life about the theory behind public art, the purpose of it, how to even define it. I feel like I was able to skip ahead through all the trial and error I would have to do myself."

Drew Etienne, Grant Wood Public Art Residency attendee, FA 2021 

Since the residency, Etienne has continued to create murals in the public sphere, including those on George's Buffet, The Graduate Hotel, and Linn Street. 

Group cutting ribbon in front of large mural painting

Speakers and Community Partners

  • Daniel Miller serves as associate professor and program head of sculpture and intermedia in the School of Art and Art History. He is an artist who creates generative works that investigate systems and ecologies in the contemporary landscape.  His artwork may employ the use of robotics, electronics, sound, video, and light to investigate subject. In 2019, Miller completed Luminous Trails, an interactive solar sculpture, in Webster City's City Hall Plaza as part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities partnership. 
  • Danielle Russo is a visiting assistant professor of dance at the university. She founded Danielle Russo Performance Project, a co-operative of diverse artists who produce large-scale performances and experiential artwork in public spaces, for public audiences. DRPP projects are founded on long-term community engagement and collaboration for mutual storytelling and social activism, alike. Its latest project, Final Notice, is a 1.5-mile traveling dance marking the increasing floodplain in Red Hook and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  
  • Stephanie Miracle is an international choreographer and teaching artist investigating the intersections between the ordinary/seen and imagined/unseen landscapes. Her process is dedicated to the concept of abundant possibility found within awareness and play in the everyday setting. These works manifest through site-specific happenings, sound installations, experimental films, and live stage performances. She currently serves as an assistant professor in the UI Department of Dance.
  • Karen Rowell, Director of the Downtown Clinton Alliance. Rowell has worked with artists to create unique spaces throughout Clinton. Most recently, she hired Sean Tyler (MFA Candidate Painting & Drawing) to create the Keeping You Sewing mural as part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities partnership. 
  • Jill Wells has firmly situated herself within art and advocacy work. She is well known for her dynamic, colorful, and tactile multimedia works investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility, and human experiences. By exploring the powerful alignment between arts integration and Universal Design, Wells' work seeks solutions for innovative pathways into accessible art. In 2021, Wells completed The Oracles of Iowa City. Learn more about Wells's work at her website.  
  • Andre Perry is the executive director of Hancher Auditorium  and the Office of Performing Arts and Engagement. Perry, a graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program, previously served as executive director of The Englert Theatre. 
  • Travis Kraus serves as Director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, a community engagement partnership program housed in the School of  Planning and Public Affairs. In addition to connecting communities with the university's resources through the IISC, Kraus also supports the arts through his position on the Public Space One Board of Directors. 
  • Loyce Arthur is an associate professor of costume design, masks, and puppetry in Theatre Arts at the university. She is currently on the executive board of the Iowa Center for Human Rights. She is also Co-Director of the Caribbean Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program and is coordinating a 2013 Caribbean Carnival community arts project and exhibit of Carnival costumes in partnership with the University of Iowa Museum of Art and Hancher Auditorium.
  • John Englebrecht is an artist, arts organizer, educator, and Executive Director of Public Space One (PS1). Since joining PS1 in 2009, he has steadily built the regional arts institution operating locally as Iowa City’s arts hub which is home to the Iowa City Press Co-op, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, and the Media Arts Co-op. 
  • Nick Benson serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement and provides leadership on campus for community-engaged teaching, learning, and research. He has worked for eight years in various community engagement roles at the University of Iowa, including as Director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities and Director of Community Development and Outreach. Before his time at Iowa, Nick worked for the city of Iowa City in community and economic development and at Leff Law Firm.
  • Maura Pilcher currently serves as the Director of the Grant Wood Art Colony. Maura has over 15 years of experience in the museum field, including The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), The Field Museum (Chicago, IL), and The Snite Museum (Notre Dame, IN). She has participated in arts engagement and preservation-related panels and provided workshops for national audiences.