kalamazoo institute of arts

C. Lieurance

A new composition that lasts as long as the drive to Lake Michigan from Kalamazoo. A nature walk with musicians along the trail.  16 new music pieces inspired by art works to be exhibited at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. An installation of sculptures that activate sounds, at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. These are some of the creative ways the Connecting Chords Music Festival is moving forward in an era of COVID-19 cancellations. Cara Lieurance spoke with executive director Elizabeth Start about the events.

Studio Museum in Harlem

On Sep 14, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts will open its doors to the public for a touring exhibition titled Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem. It's the only midwest stop for this collection of 91 works representing a diverse array of works created by artists of African descent from the 1920s to the present.

Chief curator Rehema Barber, who joined the KIA in April 2019, says it's an experience filled with strong images, surprising textures, materials, and viewpoints that rewards multiple viewings. She and the KIA's executive director, Belinda Tate, were inspired to showcase pieces from the KIA's own collection in a complementary exhibit, Resilience: African American Artists as Agents of Change. They also decided to celebrate the work of regional artists, in a third exhibit titled Where We Stand: Black Artists in Southwest Michigan.

The KIA will host an evening talk with former Studio Museum curator Laurel Haynes, who helped develop the exhibit, on Thurs, Sep 12 at 6:30 pm. Marketing director Katie Houston says in addition to the opening day on Sep 14, which will be free to the whole community, the KIA has collaborated on related events with the Black Arts and Cultural Center, Kalamazoo College's Arcus Center, Western Michigan University, the Kalamazoo Public Library, and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. 

Black Refractions, Resilience, and Where We Stand will be on display until Dec 8. 

Learn About Hoodoo, Santeria Through KIA Exhibit Talk

Sep 8, 2016
Renee Stout and Hand Print Workshop International, Alexandria, VA

If you’ve been to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts this summer, you might have seen the exhibit by Washington D.C. artist Renee Stout called Tales of the Conjure Woman. It’s like stepping into the home of a Hoodoo fortune teller. There are altars with bottles upon bottles of herbs and potions, next to journal entries on how to ensnare a love interest.

But what is Hoodoo exactly? Western Michigan University cultural anthropologist Kristina Wirtz will talk about Hoodoo and Santeria in the context the exhibit September 29th at 6:30 p.m. . 

Earlene McMichael / WMUK


Belinda Tate's rise to executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts even surprises herself. "I never expected to have a career in the arts," she tells WMUK's Earlene McMichael on WestSouthwest today, her two-year anniversary at the KIA. "While an undergraduate at Yale, I was a math major -- applied math with a concentration in operations research."  Then she got a job in the Finance Department at the Yale Center for British Art in her sophomore year. What happened next shows the power of mentors, of which she'd had several while in college.

Earlene McMichael / WMUK

If you've noticed increased community collaborations, youth programming and involvement of local artists at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, it's been intentional. Belinda Tate marks her second-year anniversary as the organization's executive director next month. She says she's sought to make the KIA a "community resource" and a center of creativity. The KIA also has extended hours, and now is open at every Art Hop