Georgia Allen was born in Towson, Maryland in 1992 and lived in Ijamsville, Maryland until 2019. During her childhood years, she always found herself drawn to artistic pursuits, taking classes in woodworking, pottery, painting, drawing, and more through school and local art centers. She finds calm and focus in the process of creating art.

While getting a degree in religious studies from McDaniel College, Allen always maintained art and writing as hobbies, and continues taking courses on the subjects.

Georgia moved with her family to Manistee, Michigan in 2019 and currently works at the local Happy Owl Bookshop and the Vogue Theatre while continuing to create artworks in her spare time.

“Art is an outlet for my often-jumbled mind, and it allows me to make something beautiful in an ever-changing and increasingly chaotic world. I find calm and focus in the process of creating, and it is a fantastic way for me to unwind and reflect on things in life.”

Tyree Broadway is a fine artist and saxophonist. He is very involved in the local ArtHops having several ongoing installations around Kalamazoo such as at the Kalamazoo Defender offices, and the local Honor Credit Union branches. Additionally, last year he was an Art Prize finalist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As a child he would roam around his home and touch all the bumps and ridges on the artwork his parents had hung on the walls. He didn’t know this could damage the work, but as a child, nonetheless, he was drawn to the texture.

Broadway wants kids to enjoy and be drawn to his work as well. He incorporates many of the same things he was, and is, attracted to in art. Texture and wildlife have a prominent role in what he creates.

Paul Collins is an internationally renowned, American realist painter. Collins is known for his skillful use of textures, light, and attention to detail. The art of Paul Collins grew out of his study, long experimentation, and determination. He was born in Muskegon, Michigan and moved to Grand Rapids at a very young age. His family owns a cottage in Idlewild, MI, and enjoyed summers up north.

Collins was discouraged from taking art seriously because of its seemingly “impractical” potential as a future career. He spent his youth growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood. He found encouragement and influence from Randy Brown, a highly educated artist and poet who came from the south, and who persuaded him to pursue a career in art.

Collins first tried painting in oils, and his interest in this medium led him to absorb all he could read about the techniques and chemistry of paints. Oil and pencil remain the foundation of his technique today.

In his early years, selling at art fairs, Collins was disturbed by the stereotypical way blacks were often portrayed with oversized lips and eyes popping out so he chose to paint large pieces depicting black faces. In 1969, he launched a two-year sojourn to West Africa to paint a cultural series depicting a part of his ancestry. After that he was invited to relocate to the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian reservations for a 30-painting series. “Great Beautiful Black Women,” a record of the journey of black women from their African origins to the present day, premiered at the Chicago Cultural Center. The unveiling was witnessed by driving forces in cultural evolution such as Rosa Parks, Wilma Rudolph, and Coretta Scott King. The collection toured for five years. It highlighted the roles of many black women who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement that changed the United States forever.

In 1998, he represented the United States of America with a 60-piece retrospective entitled “Visions,” for the International Arts Festival in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The theme of the event was “Healing” an effort to erase the scars of war. After six decades, Collins has created an enormous body of work that encompasses the worldwide diversity of cultures, peoples, and generations.

Rufus Snoddy spent his formative art production years in Los Angeles. His family, suffering from the pressures of the “Jim Crow” South, were forced to relocated from rural East Texas in the late 1950s when he was an adolescent. Growing up in the inner-city, where there were often over a hundred languages spoken in his high school, lent sensibility to the observation of varied human behavioral patterns and to his keen interest in texture. In 2002, after building prominence in the L.A. arts community, he moved to Northern Michigan with his wife and children.

Snoddy’s work reflects a concert of approaches, materials, and dichotomy, striving for seamless shifting from one to the other. “It is sculpture…it is painting….it is both.” Most often he refers to his work as “painting as object” or Construction Paintings.

With a graduate degree in sculpture, Snoddy has spent many years pursuing the act of creatively collecting and expressing with sundry materials, construction, and painting methods. These things are all for passion of giving order to chaos in enticing ways.

As a young man Snoddy lived in a world of colorful characters, some experiencing tragedy as a matter of course. Trying to navigate social issues brought on by urban angst in such a sprawling, divisive, and sometimes violent environment often proved a daunting task. A desire to explore other life experiences led him to an interest in sailing and traveling throughout the world. Snoddy embarked upon a series of works reflecting this period of his life, as well as other issues of the past.

“I have travelled and exhibited in various places in the world. I find that everywhere I go there is a common visual language, some more iterate than others. Visual art continues to reflect man, his activities and environment, much like the cave paintings of thousands of years ago. I see myself as just another messenger, hopefully, with an innovative perspective.”

Rufus resides and works in the Traverse City, Michigan, and continues to exhibit throughout the United States and other countries.

Nicolena Stubbs is a self-taught, abstract intuitive artist. She finds inspiration everywhere and her desire to create is unquenchable. Her art is never “work” because it relieves stress and provides the self-expression and creativity she craves. She has always been an “artist” in her soul.

Stubbs’ life, surroundings, experiences, relationships, nature, joys, pains, and struggles all inspire her moods and therefore her work.

During her college years, she supplemented her income designing jewelry, and wrote poetry. She dabbled in art but did not share her work. During the pandemic, she closed her business for over four months and became anxious and hungry to channel her energy into something positive and expressive.

Picking up a brush again in 2020, Stubbs has not put it down. Now, she paints almost every day and feels hopeful, blessed, and inspired to keep painting, creating, sharing, and growing.

Imani Swain lives in Manistee County and attends Frankfort High School as a freshman. She lived in Frankfort for most of her life, but was born and raised for about a year and a half around Detroit. She visits her dad in Detroit on the weekends, holidays, and summer.

Swain was always doing art in any form— either playing with chalk or drawing her classmates. She wants to become an animator telling stories and showing new worlds with different realities. At school she studies traditional and virtual art, and also is active in the drama club. Art has always been in Swain’s life. Both parents, who are are skilled in different types of art, help and cheer her on. She enjoys watercolor and acrylic painting.

Swain’s art has to have some sort of meaning, either to herself or to whoever sees the piece. One of her favorite pieces is simple, but it has a deeper meaning for her. “My dad had always wanted to come back up north, he wanted to bike in the woods and kayak down the rivers. In the summer of 2022, he finally got to. He worked years and moved events just to have a month in the north. That’s why the piece is called ‘The One Wish.’”

Danielle Thesiger is a 26-year-old visual media and culinary artist. Her artistic path began from invaluable summers full of disposable point and shoot cameras, to formal training with a bachelor’s in Digital Media Production and Cinema from Eastern Michigan University.

Thesiger’s work is inspired by life, language, and the natural world. She puts forth heart- led expression to ensure art is a language forever spoken.

With Caribbean American roots and hailing from New York City, Thesiger was raised in suburban southeast Michigan. Spending the Last five years in rural Michigan, she now is discovering an all new, yet wildly familiar way of being and living.

There’s an art to the way of living, and Thesiger’s objective is to engage with the he(art) of it, always.

George Thomas has been labeled a folk artist and an outsider artist, which typically means they are self-taught. But he has had formal training. He laughs, “Art school can teach just so much. I learned backwards, you see, I was self-taught, then I went to school.”

Thomas knew by age seven he wanted to be an artist. “I was more or less a loner…I always liked to sit and draw, and read books.” When he was 12 years old, the family moved to Detroit, and four years later, to Idlewild. His parents wanted to raise the children in a smaller town.

Thomas was in his late 40s when he attended Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He reminisced, “Around that time I wanted to be a realistic artist. But then I got to thinking about in order to make a statement, you don’t have to do that. That’s what I like about Picasso. He could draw and paint like the other artists, but chose to do something different.”

Thomas began making his own artistic statements by representing people and places he had known in his childhood. He created—with any materials he could find—dioramas (or box sculptures) made out of old barn wood, wire, bed sheets, plaster of Paris, found objects, and paint. In Thomas’s family there was always singing and dancing, and it is often reflected in his artwork.

Exhibits include Newaygo County Council for the Arts, Grand Rapids Art Museum, National Folk Festival, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Conference, Great Lakes Folk Festival, Outsider Outside Art Fair, Midland Outsider Art Show. Two pieces are in the permanent collection at Muskegon Art Museum. One piece is in the permanent
collection in Michigan State University’s Folk Art Museum. Thomas also has taught art and demonstrated wire sculpture in numerous school workshops.