?: The Union for Contemporary Art

Now officially open for the season, The Union for Contemporary Art (The Union) on North 24th Street is an exciting place to learn through experience, expand one’s mind, and inspire creativity. With a large art gallery named for Wanda D. Ewing, The Union offers five or more exhibitions per year with a primary focus on women of color in the arts. Not only does The Union display art that is culturally riveting; it also offers a multitude of mediums for visitors to expand their worldview and inspire their own creativity.

?: The Union for Contemporary Art

Nicole J. Caruth, program director for The Union, can attest to the importance of inspiring the youth through hands-on experiences and exposure to art.

“I never went to a museum until I was in my 20s,” Caruth said, “and it was really a life-changing experience.

I left my job as an accountant and went to school for Art History and have been working in museums and galleries ever since.”

?: The Union for Contemporary Art

Seeking to bridge the gaps between people and artistic practice, Caruth inspires the community to expand its worldview through artists, “who are addressing issues of social justice.”

With five different art studios, The Union offers a Co-Op membership for local artists to connect and access shared, specialty equipment. Co-Op members use equipment free-of-charge and have access to events held at The Union for a small membership fee.

To enhance exposure, The Union also offers community events.

Communications Manager Patrick Mainelli said, “every Thursday we have up to five workshops, each using one of these spaces.” Using a rolodex full of local artists and teachers, participants can make pottery, develop photographs, and learn other creative techniques under the supervision of seasoned professionals. One example of these is their “Making a Shirt” workshop. Mainelli described, “people come in once a week and start with a raw piece of fabric and they have a shirt at the end of it.”

?: The Union for Contemporary Art

As the summer heat begins, The Abundance Garden is a way to immerse young gardeners in growing their own produce. Including a large dome greenhouse, the massive free-pick garden has, according to Mainelli, “about 1,000 square feet of raised gardening space.” Taking it one step further, The Union also has a full kitchen where cooking classes are offered through their Youth Engagement program.

?: The Union for Contemporary Art

“I think that accessibility is really central to all of these things. Kids can see that it’s easy to grow a tomato… and to pick it an incorporate it into a meal. They have access to grow things that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise,” Mainelli said.

Along with community partners, The Union seeks to inspire creativity in everyone who enters the premises.

Caruth, who has been with The Union for two years, is glad that her work meets at the intersection of art and social issues, because it brings relevant and diverse perspectives to the forefront. Partnering with NET, a pop-up series of films was recently shown, after which a two-person panel, according to Caruth, “could address some of the issues brought up in the films but address them from a local perspective and tell audiences how they can get involved.”

By bringing these pieces into an open discussion, visitors inadvertently look inwards and think about their own practices and involvement as a creative or activist in the community. For more inspiration, art, culture, film, and creativity, visit The Union at 2423 North 24th Street or at www.u-ca.org.

?: Dana Damewood

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