Civic studio is an applied experimental studio project started in 1999. It operates as a public project and is organized as a course in the Art and Design Department at Grand Valley State University.

The project was initiated to develop ways of practicing and presenting art in public contexts, and to invest in the social, educational, and institutional inquiry and development necessary to have art serve its public function.

The studio is not a fixed place but more of a framework of inquiry. Each project takes place in a specific situation, which is organized as a work space that is publicly accessible. We research the history and context of the site and engage socially and experientially. Work is done individually and collaboratively and involves a precarious mix of organizational, social, scholastic, and artistic functions. Areas of focus emerge from context, process, and dialog. Studio products are publicly presented.

The project was created in 1999 by Paul Wittenbraker with support from the Dorothy Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. In 2006 it was established as a regular course offering in the new Visual Studies BFA program of the Department of Art and Design at GVSU. Visual Studies reflects interdisciplinary approaches in contemporary art including work that focuses on spatial, curatorial, and civic contexts and the use of digital and interactive media in visual works. 


Map to Studio Locations (8 locations).

Civic Studio and the Plastic City, blog post and lecture notes/images

Civic Studio Merges Service Learning and Locally Relevant Art, Article on the studio in the Grand Valley State University magazine, Mary Pirkola, Spring 2008

Interview with Civic Studio's Paul Wittenbraker, LAMB (little art magazine and blog), Ben Schaafsma, 2006

Civic Studio: Situated Studio as Method, for !Spark Project: Design and Locality, May 2004

Civic Studio Lecture Graphic, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Feb. 2003

Civic Studio • Intro and Ideas, 2002

Gallery Shines with efforts of students from GVSU, Grand Rapids Press, December 3, 1999

Pre-2009 Web Site


Civic Studio on Facebook