By Riley Murphy
Katie In’s ’13 first role in the Grinnell community was as a sociology student at the College with an interest in art and music. Now she works at the Grinnell Area Arts Council in education and operations management, teaching children and keeping books for a hub of art and community in Grinnell.
Coming from a suburb of Chicago, when In moved to Grinnell she was reminded of life outside of the city, where “you can’t find food after 10 p.m.,” as In so rightly put it. But she decided to come back to Grinnell after she had graduated and travelled across the country, “because I like it. I know it’s a really simple answer,” and it helped her want to stay as she learned that “there’s a solid community in the arts here.”
Following her studies at Grinnell, she went on tour with a group called Tiny Circus, a community-based organization based in Grinnell and New Orleans that teaches art across the country.
With Tiny Circus, she travelled from Grinnell to New York to Florida to lead all ages from elementary school to college students in workshops she described as “non-hierarchical collaboration using stop-motion animation. … I know it’s a mouthful.”
“I loved the work that Tiny Circus does. I had been looking for something that was in the intersection of arts and community engagement for a while, and that seemed to fit perfectly,” In said about her time with the organization.
Through organizations like Tiny Circus, the Arts Council and the Grin City Collective, In found her place in the community as an artist and organizer, and she’s been dedicated to the town ever since.
As time passed, In has grown less connected with the college and has shifted to become more involved with the community. She said this started as a student when she spent a summer on campus.
“Once I spent a summer in Grinnell I was already making that shift in my mind.”
Her summer in Grinnell gave In the opportunity to experience the area with a fresh perspective that wasn’t centered on the academic community, and she suggested that any students given the chance to enjoy Grinnell should take advantage of the situation.
“It allowed me to get to know the town and the community members that have nothing to do with the college in a new and meaningful way,” she said.
Since then she has been an advocate for expanding the arts throughout the community and college. Part of her work at the Grinnell Area Arts Council has been focused on making the arts appealing and available to all in both the college and town community.
“We really try to market to as broad of a population in Grinnell as we can. I believe that the arts are for everyone, not just a select few,” In said.
As both an alumna and a citizen of Grinnell, In has a dual understanding of what kind of place Grinnell is, and she has seen the ability for art to combine the two worlds. The Arts Council has been a headquarters for Grinnell community and student artists, and part of her role with the organization has involved bringing those two spheres together as a member of both.
“I try to figure out how I can use that to be someone always bridging the gap,” In said.
In the future, In is considering the option of graduate study, even though it would mean leaving Grinnell.
For now, she’s focused on balancing her job in Grinnell and her own artistic development, with a love for her music and a dream of further pursuing her music duo with fellow alum Erik Jarvis ‘12, in a group called Pink Neighbor.