Wildhearted Art Exhibit at Crooked Tree in Traverse City

Wildhearted, an upcoming Northern Michigan art exhibit at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Traverse City, will feature work of artists under 40 around the themes of “wilderness, environment, natural resources and outdoor adventure.”

We talked with Dani Knoph, co-curator of the exhibit, about the inspiration behind Wildhearted and what people can expect at the show.

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did this idea come from?

“It’s an idea that’s been in my head for a long time. Since I was about 23 I’ve been thinking about the environment a lot, and that was born out of having seen a lot of the world and seeing how we are treating our planet. I’d been thinking about how to use art to appreciate our environment and also protect it.”

So how did that dream converge with Crooked Tree?

“I first met Liz Ahrens, executive director at Crooked Tree, in Petoskey back in October. While we were chatting she mentioned that Crooked Tree TC was working on producing a show that would feature young artists. It wasn’t until I met the Crooked Tree TC director, Megan Kelto, at the end of October that I presented the theme of the show and proposed that we invite a group of artists and creative professionals to create work around the theme of natural wonder and appreciation for the environment. Megan and Liz were on board and invited me to curate!”

We like the name. Give us some backstory on that.

“So that’s about when the word Wildhearted hit me—an expression that ruminates on the natural wonder of and deep appreciation for Northern Michigan’s water and wilderness—an expression I’d embodied for a very long time, a word I knew many of us feel when we’re out exploring nature.

“I invited Courtney Michalik to co-curate with me, and we hit the ground with developing the concept in November. Collaborating on a theme we feel so passionately about has been invigorating, and the collective energy among the artists was like a thread that tied us all together.”

Where did young part of the idea come from?

“I’ve always drawn inspiration from artists older than me—my grandparents were wildlife artists, and others like Gwen Frostic, Glenn Wolff. So the fact that this show is about young artists, it’s also about the leaders who paved the way to help people have this appreciation for nature and that allows us to continue it. It’s my hope that through the work we are doing we can help pass the torch on to the next generation.”

Give us some specifics on the show.

“There are 14 artists, including Courtney and myself. Some of these creative professionals didn’t think of themselves as artists in the traditional sense. A few were pleasantly surprised when we asked them to participate, but the excitement grew and everybody pulled through with some truly inspiring and beautiful work. We all learned something along the way, and perhaps the best lessons came from stepping out of our comfort zones.”

Event details:

  • Opening reception: Tuesday, March 15th, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Artist guests and members only; become a member at the door for $40 to be admitted and enjoy an entire year of Crooked Tree benefits and opening receptions.)
  • Wildhearted exhibition: March 16–May 14
  • [email protected] with Wildhearted artists: March 22, 10 a.m.–11 a.m.
  • March Swirl, Wildhearted: March 24
  • [email protected] with Wildhearted artists: April, 26, 10 a.m.–11a.m.

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