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'Hands' Exhibit Brings Together Residents from across Muskegon County

"I think this show has done more to build community than any other exhibit we've had," said ceramicist Peter Johnson of the Through Our Lens: Hands show. And he should know. Johnson has been a fixture in the local arts community since the inception of the arts council in the early 1980s. He's also one of over fifty Muskegon County residents featured in the exhibit on loan to ACWL-Nuveen from Muskegon Museum of Art through October 28, 2023.


The exhibit features over 50 Muskegon County residents whose hands are captured in striking black and white photographs by Whitehall photographer Jennifer Green. The photos go 'hand-in-hand' with beautifully-written profiles of each subject by journalist Susan Harrison Wolffis. Green’s photography and Harrison Wolffis's writing capture the emotional depth of each subject's story in a way that evokes senses of empathy, hope, love, triumph, and more.

The opening reception for the exhibit at ACWL-Nuveen was followed by a lecture and Q&A with Green and Harrison Wolffis at the Playhouse at White Lake where the two shared stories about the process of interviewing and photographing each of the subjects, including a delightful story about two sisters featured in the show who didn't realize that they were both participating until the opening in Muskegon.

The arts council has offered a series of classes, events, and products in conjunction with the exhibit. The Hands-On Art Event featured demonstrating artists LeeAnn Frame, Chelsea Tanis, and Sarajane Fellini as well as free, family-friendly arts activities with Kathy Rogers, Margaret Billups and Erin Peyer. Peter Johnson gave live wheel-throwing demos and sold handmade, personalized stoneware cups at the event, the proceeds of which went towards our new ACWL-Nuveen class scholarship fund.

There's still time to see the exhibit and enroll in hands-themed classes and events. Instructor Laurel Geis will offer a Drawing Hands class on Wednesday, October 18 from 6PM to 8PM and Green will present a free lecture on the power of photographic storytelling at ACWL-Nuveen on Thursday, October 26 from 6PM to 7PM. Ceramic hand sculptures made to commemorate the show can be purchased for $20 at ACWL-Nuveen. These adorable, one-of-a-kind hands were made by ACWL-Nuveen staff, board members, and volunteers. All proceeds for the sale of ceramic hands will also go towards the ACWL-Nuveen scholarship fund.

Through Our Lens: Hands at the ACWL-Nuveen is made possible by Howmet Aerospace Foundation, Eastbrook Homes, Susan & Frank Bednarek Fund of the Community Foundation of Muskegon County, and Craig & Deb Harris.

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