We are a community-based, non-degree art school offering classes for children through adults year-round in four terms. Mediums offered include photography, digital media, design, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, painting and drawing, printmaking, fiber, glass fusing, foreign language, creative writing, and wellness.

Your community art school features:

  • 300+ weekly classes are taken by nearly 3,000 students each year.
  • In addition to art classes, spring break and summer art camps are offered for children and teens.
  • Fall and winter terms are 12 weeks.
  • Spring term is six weeks.
  • Summer term is eight weeks.
  • Also available are 1-2 day workshops and shorter courses of 2-5 weeks.
  • Guest artists from around the country visit to teach specialized 1-2 day workshops
  • Scholarships are available for adults, teens, and children, due the month before each semester.

Our facilities surpass most college and university art departments.

  • Ceramics: Electric, gas, salt, and raku kilns plus one off-site anagama kiln
  • Sculpture: Clay, metal welding, wood and bronze casting foundry
  • Jewelry: Fabrication equipment, vacuum and centrifugal casting, sand blaster, rolling mills and kilns
  • Printmaking: Intaglio, photo etching, woodblock, lithography and serigraphy
  • Fibers: 20 floor looms, spinning wheels, equipment for felting and dyeing
  • Photography: 12 enlargers, chemistry and systems for alternative processes
  • Computer lab: 10+ state-of-the art Macintosh computers, Epson image and film scanners and archival printers
  • Glass fusing: Facilities for kiln-formed and kiln-fused glass
  • Language, creative writing, and wellness
  • Spring and summer youth camps and year-round youth classes

Register online for classes and workshops, or call (269) 349-7775 to register by phone. You are also welcome to register in person at the KIA front desk or school office. Members enjoy reduced tuition (click to learn more about membership). We love beginners and encourage scholarship applications.

Certificate Program

This program allows teens and adults to choose a general or specialized course of study, and consists of seven courses: four 12-week courses and two 6- or 8-week courses, plus one art-appreciation course. The Certificate Program must be completed in five years. No grades are given, but attendance is taken. Students can enroll in the Certificate Program at any time. The Certificate Program has no additional enrollment fee.

Prearranged studio hours are an option. Students meet contracted goals and display competency and technical knowledge and complete all courses with approval of the department head. A final portfolio review will take place with the Director of the Kirk Newman Art School, department chairs and department head. At the end of the Certificate Program, students will be part of an exhibition. Current students may place out of beginning classes by presenting a portfolio. A course of study will be designed for them that includes advanced and independent study courses. Six courses plus one art-appreciation class are still required.

One or more certificates can be earned in the following areas: painting, drawing, printmaking, fiber, ceramics, photography and sculpture for adults, or painting, drawing, photography and ceramics for teens. A generalized course of study is available for both groups. On completion of the Certificate Program, teens will have a portfolio ready to apply to an art school or university art program.

Suggestions for a Course of Study

If you have any questions about which classes are appropriate for your level or which classes to take next, email school registrar Courtney Nelson at or call (269) 585-9266 for guidance.


View our faculty list with links to instructor websites.


Park free in our Lovell Street and South Street lots. On-street metered parking is free after 5 pm and on weekends.


Small and large lockers are available for rental through the Registration Office.


The History of the Art School

Kirk Newman was born in Dallas, Texas in 1926 and began his artistic career experimenting with abstract sculpture and painting in the exciting post-World War II era. What increasingly intrigued him, however, was the human figure and how it could speak to the complexities of the modern world.

Newman began his exploration of the figure by creating small sculptures of anonymous businessmen. While their suits identified them as figures of power and authority, their crouching, falling, and grasping postures revealed vulnerability. Cast in bronze, the figures took on an unexpected timelessness.

As Newman’s focus shifted toward the whimsical and satirical, the figures suggested the inflated egos and social pretensions of their subjects. By the 1980s the businessmen, now distorted, flattened and shadow-like, conveyed the fast pace of contemporary life.

While widely recognized as a sculptor, Newman was also a dedicated educator. He came to Kalamazoo in 1949 as part of the University of Michigan’s extension program. Newman believed community art programs could be as stimulating and rewarding as those offered at the college level. He recruited a dedicated group of teachers to help develop the KIA art school.

When he left as Director of Education in 1978, the school that now bears his name had received national recognition. It continues to be an enduring presence in the cultural life of Kalamazoo. Mr. Newman passed away November 4, 2017.