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We believe that out-of-school art & design can serve as a catalyst for engaging young designers, thinkers, and leaders to create real work that makes a big difference in our communities.


Art & design provide a unique platform to learn from, engage with, and contribute to our world. They build the confidence to question, the skills to act, and the passion to create meaningful impact. Each of our projects empowers students to learn creatively and collaboratively to make work that matters.



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Director of CAN Art & Design

Laura and student show off paint-covered hands
Laura works on art with students at the table
Laura and student show off spray painted t-shirt


How do we do what we do?


Each year, our staff selects a culturally-relevant theme, like architecture or technology, and assembles a team of local experts to inform our curriculum.

We spend six months organizing themes and writing lesson plans! We utilize four teaching semesters, which begin each June with a six-week intensive summer camp. In the following three seasons (fall, winter, and spring), we tackle one big placemaking project that matches the yearly theme, followed by a series of smaller supporting explorations.

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HOMESTate (2020-21)

A series of studies in the cultures and peoples of Michigan, with a focus on the environment, art, industry, food, and civic engagement.

Students participate in projects like creating flags that represent their community, design their own Michigan-based pizza company, built Heidelberg Project-inspired sculptures, and planting seed bombs to grow bee-friendly flowers.

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The Kids' Table (2019-20)

A series of studies in the culinary arts, utilitarian uses for food,  restaurant development, and expanding cultural & taste horizons.

Students participated in projects like creating a community compost bin, learning how to can and pickle, creating urban farm dioramas, and Chopped Jr. competitions.

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Ready. Set. Tech! (2018-19)

A series of studies in technology and how it shapes our world.

Students participated in projects like designing Rube Goldberg machines, creating stop motion animation clips, and exploring internet safety and the impact of cyberbullying.

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The Construction Zone (2017-18)

A series of studies in architecture, placemaking, and community.

Students participated in projects like painting silhouette tracings of their bodies in the Mitchell Elementary cafeteria, designing a custom mural focusing on the basic elements and principles of art, and using vernacular materials to build shelters.