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Coming Home - New Director for ACWL - Nuveen

The Arts Council of White Lake – Nuveen Center announces a new director. Many may be familiar with Chelsea Kirksey at the Nuveen Center, but recently she has taken on the role of executive director. Her work with the organization over the past four years has created new programs such as the artist in residence, the emerging artist series, and an abundance of classes.

She is excited to continue her work with the ACWL in a different way and describes her experience as coming full circle. She explains, “The arts have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and the ACWL – Nuveen was at the heart of it. Nine years ago, I shared my first piece in a public exhibit, none other than ACWL’s Change of Seasons. This experience set me on a path to explore my own making process and art as a medium for community activism.”

From her entry in 2009, Kirksey went on to win awards for her work throughout her high school and college career, during which time she found that her love of art went beyond, her own creations. “I fell in love with the community art created. It offered a safe space and a home for many who needed it most. You could share your most intimate thoughts and they were not only heard but appreciated. I saw the unique voice the art community gave me and those around me. It was a very natural mode of self-exploration and expression.”

In 2014, she received her BFA in Art Education from Michigan State University, where she came to identify herself as an educator first and foremost. “I have always loved art, but I learned what I loved most was its ability to connect,” she explains. Her experiences teaching for the Capital Area Down Syndrome Association, a preschool, and after-school art programs continued to fuel her passion for community engagement. “Art is for all; there is no right or wrong and that is what I love most.”

After graduating Kirksey found herself back where it started it all, the Nuveen Center. Beginning as a teacher, she quickly found herself spending all of her time there. “It felt like home and I was thankful for the opportunity to do what I loved straight out of college.” 

She’s excited about the new opportunities that come with the position. She attributes her growth as a maker and teacher to the ACWL and is looking forward to continuing to grow with the organization. She states, “Every day I come to work knowing that what I do, will give people the chance to paint, laugh, and dance. For this, I am forever grateful.”


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