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Meet the 2024 Artist's Way Artist Cohort

Welcome to the Artist's Way project at Cultivate! This year, we are proud to present a cohort of artists who will be leading workshops and creating public art over the next 12 weeks, starting June 10. 

On this page, you will find detailed profiles of each artist. These profiles offer a look into their personal journeys, artistic styles, and the unique perspectives they bring to our community.

Kelsey Lee

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Kelsey Lee (she/they) is a dancer, choreographer, and contact improviser. She is the founder and artistic director of Dance Playhouse, a professional contemporary dance company based in
Grand Haven, MI. In addition to teaching dance, she is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200). Her choreography has been presented at festivals and art galleries throughout the
Midwest and Virginia, including Midwest RAD Fest, Milwaukee Fringe Festival, Cleveland Dance Festival, PrideFest Milwaukee, and the McGuffey Art Center. She began dancing at 8 years old at the Dance Factory in Delavan, Wisconsin where she studied ballet in the Cecchetti Method, modern, and jazz. She has a BFA in Contemporary Dance & Choreography with a double major in Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There, she received two undergraduate research fellowships for somatic research under the mentorship of Maria Gillespie, and was the recipient of several dance scholarships, including the Ed Burgess Legacy Scholarship. After
graduation, she completed a Meisner technique training program at The Acting Studio in NYC, New York. She is a company member with Currents Dance Theatre, and has danced professionally with Hixon Dance, Hyperlocal MKE, Columbus Modern Dance Company, Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, Gina Laurenzi Dance Project, and Peter Stathas Dance, to name a few.

Sarah Marentette (Salted Journaling)

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Sarah Marentette (she/her) shares -
"My passion for art therapy through art journaling is one of teaching others about life balance. Art is an incredible source for balancing the logical parts of life. I encourage others that we are all artists, capable of using art for our days we need to quiet all the negative influences. Using art journaling as a form of meditation through documenting affirmations. I have enjoyed the opportunities to teach art journaling to woman at retreats, large workshops and as a high school class."

Kristine Vander Velde

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Kristine Vander Velde (she/her) shares -
"My journey has has some turn-offs and road blocks. I left college after three years to become a mother and wasn’t expecting a daughter with Rett Syndrome. For the next decade, I was entirely immersed in her care and created nothing artistic. I felt lost and empty and knew I needed to find my way back into my creative stride. I cleaned up my
home studio and gathered new and old materials and tried to pick up where I left off.  The sudden death of my daughter left me floundering for a few years, trying to figure out where to start my life over. In 2018,I returned to school and took some time to immerse
myself as an actively developing artist. During this period, I transitioned from acrylic to oils. After a couple semesters of making muddy, awful paintings, I learned to effectively manipulate oils and mix vibrant, beautiful colors. Since achieving my BFA in Painting
during the Spring of 2020, I have continued a strong studio practice at home. I’ve grown to adore the city I live in and use the surrounding landscape to fill my canvases."

Andrew (Drue) McPherson

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Drue McPherson (he/him) is an M.Arch candidate at KCAD whose practice centers on nonnormative locales that are physical, social, and theoretical constructs. Drue received his bachelor’s in art history, blending his love of social theory and spatial considerations
to the built environment. He focuses on queer and fundamentally oppressed spaces to broaden the relevance of architectural histories and design culture, creating narratives
on how space has an impact on the construction of identity.

Deos Contemporary Ballet

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Deos Contemporary Ballet uplifts artists through a culture focused on diversity, wellness, and empathy. We inspire a broader audience through innovation in education, film and live performances. We make contemporary ballet accessible to all through profound and relatable works of art.

Deos Ballet began with the first-ever COLLIDE Summer Series, bringing dancers from across the country together for a short-term contract during their summer layoff from year-round commitments. Since 2018, Deos has continued to host dancers for our annual Summer Series.


COLLIDE continues to be Deos Ballet’s largest program of the season, bringing together 12 professional dancers, a handful of collegiate interns, and other guest artists for a fast-paced, short-term rehearsal and performance season.

Since 2018, Deos has expanded to provide our core dancers (those local to Grand Rapids, or those who have relocated to Grand Rapids) performance opportunities and Dance for Film recording contracts throughout the year, with the goal of curating a full season in Grand Rapids and further cementing our footprint in the Michigan dance scene. This goal was achieved in the fall of 2022 when we announced our first full season of year-round performances: EPILOGUE
(fall series), EMBER (winter series), AWAKEN (spring series), and COLLIDE (summer series).

During the 2023-2024 performance season, our annual offerings grew to include an instant hit, Cracked Nuts: Not Your Mother’s Nutcracker. The premiere weekend of Cracked Nuts entirely sold out, even when adding an additional performance evening. Deos Ballet continues to grow and participate in outreach performances in partnerships with the Grand Rapids Art Museum, local and touring orchestras/choirs, churches, and other arts organizations throughout the city.

Dani F. Hughes

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Dani F. Hughes (she/her) is a fine artist, photographer, storyteller, and art educator based in the Midwest. With an image-based practice rooted in themes of romantic resilience and environmental consciousness, Dani weaves together narratives of longing, personal histories, and our intricate relationship with the natural world.ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤ
Graduating with honors from Kendall College of Art and Design ('22) with a BFA in Photography, Hughes was recognized for her creative dedication and performance with the Student Excellence Award. Since then, she has immersed herself in continuing studies, artist residencies, internships, workshops, volunteer work, commissions, and features in both group and solo exhibitions.
ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤIn her current role as a Studio Assistant for the Detroit Institute of Arts, Hughes is actively engaged in the artistic community. She assists in educational initiatives within the museum's studio workshops to enrich the artistic experiences of visitors of all ages. Additionally, Dani serves as a brand ambassador for Kodak Professional Film, commemorating the artistry of analog photography in an increasingly digital world.

Gracie Thomas

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Gracie Thomas bio coming soon. 

Danielle C. Wyckoff

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Danielle C. Wyckoff (she/her) is an artist and educator living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her work has been exhibited or performed internationally including at the China Art Museum, Shanghai, China; the Astrid Noacks Atelier, Copenhagen, Denmark; Morlan Gallery at Transylvania University, Lexington, KY; and Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, South Carolina. She has also presented artist lectures internationally including at the
University of Chile, Santiago; The Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, China; Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA; and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has collaborated on interdisciplinary projects such as ReThink: I Am A Veteran, an original theatrical work at the Lawrence Art Center in
Lawrence, KS and Reproductive Media, an arts-based advocacy initiative that focuses on equity and well-being in arts and educational institutions.

Wyckoff holds a BA in Art and English with minors in Art History and Technical Theatre (1999) and an MA in English (2004) from Georgia College. She earned her MFA in Art: Printmaking (2010) from Ohio University. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. She lives with her husband, their child, and two cats on the edge of an orchard that has been cultivated by their neighbors’ family for over 100 years, and combined with the proximity to Lake Michigan and frequent visits to its shores, she finds infinite inspiration, awe, and a sense of responsibility to West Michigan.

Pamela Alderman

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Pamela Alderman (she/her) is an accomplished artist who uses her gifts to help others heal, connect, and succeed through art. Her non-profit organization, Healing in Arts, demonstrate the potential of creativity to inspire hope. Her installations have been featured on university campuses, in Phoenix during the 2015 Super Bowl, and at the U.S. Pentagon. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recognized Pamela’s Voices project, which raised awareness for PTSD, military sexual trauma, and veteran suicide.

Pamela continues to
impact people globally through art’s healing power. Combining her abundant passion with innovative concepts, her collaborative work helps people to feel seen, heard, and understood.

Megan Williams

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Megan Williams (she/her) has been experimenting with fiber arts since she was a small child learning from her grandmother. Her passion now lies in cyanotype print, natural dyes, woven, handspun,
and textile manipulation techniques. These skills can be seen in the unique personal accessories that she sells through her business Adventure Textiles.

Williams is an active member in the Midwest fiber community, which includes teaching at Frederick Meijer Gardens, Michigan Fiber Festival, being an active member of the Woodland
Weavers and Spinners guild and vending her fiber goods at a variety of events. Creating and nurturing the fiber arts community is a guiding star in Williams’ fiber arts career.

Evan Edwards

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Evan Edwards (he/him) writes -
"My name is Evan Edwards, and I am a chef and educator living in Grand Rapids. I have a doctorate in philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago, where I completed a dissertation on
the philosophy of food entitled Autotrophy of the Other in 2022, was scholar in residence at Thoreau College in Viroqua, WI, and am currently a visiting assistant professor in the School of
Interdisciplinary studies at Grand Valley State University, where I teach courses in interdisciplinary and environmental studies.

My current research is on the history of soil crises in the United States, and the relationship that Epicureanism has to Marxist theory. I have been a chef at several restaurants in the southwest Michigan area, serve on the top circle of the Grand Rapids Food Coop Initiative, have run a vegan farm dinner series for the last five years, was chef in residence at Frame Restaurant in Detroit in 2023, and will be farming this season at Holler Farm in Grand Rapids. Since 2018, I have brought these two areas of my background together under the name ‘The Laurentian,’ a term that is taken from the name of the bioregion of the Great Lakes. I see all of these threads of my work as being brought together by the idea that
nourishment is and should be the basis for our relationship to, and understanding of, the world in which we live. By attempting to draw attention to the way that eating local food, knowing our
farmers, and thinking critically about our place in the food system relates us to the cosmos, my work aims to foster thoughtful connections between plants, animals, and people in the Southwest
Michigan area..

Kate Benson

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Kate Benson is the founder and Director of The Grand Rapids Yoga Company, offering outreach services and community-based accessible yoga and sound-healing to West Michigan.

Primarily, she performs community sound-baths & sound-healing services as well as holistic and healing modalities. Kate has a graduate degree from Western Michigan University and an extensive background in community counseling and mental health therapy. She has found the healing properties of sound and community connection to be her most powerful tool.

From the ethereal tones of crystal singing bowls to the primal rhythms of drums, Kate harnesses the power of sound to facilitate healing on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. With years of
dedicated practice and a compassionate heart, she creates sacred spaces where individuals can release blockages, restore balance, and reconnect with their true essence..

Our Partners
Thank you to our project sponsors and partners for your invaluable support and commitment to
The Artist's Way Project.
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​Your contributions are instrumental in advancing contemporary art and fostering community engagement, allowing us to create accessible, innovative workshops and public art initiatives that celebrate diversity and creativity. Your partnership ensures that art remains a vital, inclusive force for dialogue and connection within our communities.

If you'd like to support this work and join us in our mission to enrich the cultural landscape through art, we warmly invite you to explore partnership opportunities with us. Together, we can continue to make a meaningful difference in the arts and beyond.
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