Sarah “Sunshine” Parker is a visual artist from Lansing, MI. She holds not one, but two degrees in art from Michigan State University, receiving both a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting, and a Bachelor of Arts in the Humanities in 2015. Typically using paint to express, Sarah is most known for her photorealistic moons and watercolor illustrations. Watercolor is her go to medium, and much of her work is illustrative, colorful, and imaginative. Sarah is deeply inspired by nature, science, outer space, fairy tales, and finding beauty in the simple, everyday things. “As a person and as an artist, I am constantly evolving. Creativity ebbs and flows, and to stick to one medium or style can feel limiting.” Sarah is left handed, and she has always felt that it contributes to her creativity.
When not creating her own art, Sarah works at the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center as the Gallery Coordinator, and for Michigan Creative as a Graphic Designer. Sarah has participated in several art fairs, the most notable being ArtFeast in Old Town. She has also done events with the Artist’s Umbrella, where she has been a vendor and a speed painter.
Sarah comes from a family of great artists. Her niece is The Ace of Hearts, Autumn Hopkins. Her mom was a very talented artist who specialized in drawing. Her dad is more of an inventor, and he studied architecture, and her sister Maddie is an artist as well. “The art of making runs deep in my family. From a young age, I was encouraged to be myself, and to make all of the art I could possibly make, so that’s exactly what I did. Drawing, painting, collage, sculpture; the variety of media available to create things is what had me continuously coming back for more. My love for art led me to pursue it further, and in 2015 I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Michigan State University, along with a Bachelor of Arts in the Arts & Humanities. A few years later I started classes at Lansing Community College, and in 2019 I completed a certificate in Graphic Design. Art will always have a place in my life, whether it's creating personal or professional work. I continue to explore new avenues for my creativity and connecting with my local community of artists. In 2020 a friend and I created a virtual art show, and subsequently an Instagram account called Create & Connect meant to connect artists with opportunities to create, share, and sell their work.”
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Elisa Schmidt, the owner of Territory 50, is a watercolor & mixed media artist from Lansing, MI. She holds a Bachelors of Art from Sienna Height University in Adrian, where she studied graphic design. Her art has been featured all throughout Michigan, from St. Ignace and Petoskey, to St. Johns and Lansing. She has illustrated two published books; The Business of Beans: A Young Entrepreneur’s Story in Tanzania, written by Lisa Mulka, and The Story that Lives Across the Sea, written by Charis Calender-Suemnik. Elisa’s art has hung in galleries such as Michigan Artist’s Market in Petoskey, Katalyst and Absolute Galleries in Lansing, Keys to Creativity in Lansing, TIC in East Lansing, Studio Retreat in St. Johns, Gracie’s Place in Williamston, at the Art and Craft Beerfest in Lansing, the Alma Wine Festival, Arts Night Out events in Lansing, 517 Day, & the Summer of Love Music Festival. Her work has been shown on two billboards in Lansing. She painted two piano’s one of which is in the City Market in Lansing. Both pianos have been featured multiple times in the City Pulse.
Elisa herself has been featured in the Lansing City Pulse multiple times for exhibiting at different venues around Lansing. A photograph of hers was featured in News- Press Tropicalia in the “Pictures from Paradise” section. She was also interviewed by Melik Brown for Lansing Made for a gallery show at Katalyst, Old Town Lansing.
The Business of Beans: A Young Entrepreneur’s Story in Tanzania, was awarded the EIFLE award in 2017, Elisa won 1st place for Old Town Riverbash Plein Air painting contest in 2018, & was a top 5 finalist for the visual artist category in City Pulse Top of the Town, 2017. She has collaborated with Larry Grudt from Keys to Creativity for an art piece that was auctioned off raising money for Lansing schools, and is currently collaborating with Anita Brett on a painting for a client. Elisa has also shown with Julian VanDyke at American Fifth Spirits.
In addition to her artistic work, Elisa is a veteran custom picture framer at Hobby Lobby in East Lansing. Elisa loves painting on road maps and nautical charts. Inspiration for her work comes from travels she has been on and the beauty of nature, particularly in the Les Cheneaux area of the Upper Peninsula where her second home is.
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Amari Roper is a musician born in Lansing, MI, and raised here locally, graduating from Eastern High School. Before all things, Amari is a storyteller. “Music may be the main medium that I work with, but the techniques I've learned through studying the art of story are a large part of what informs my approach to music. Story is one of the biggest aspects of my work and life, as well as a lens through which I try to make sense of the world around me. Stories have many different purposes, but in shorthand, they give people a means of connecting and relating to others, of teaching and learning lessons, and of sharing experiences that are worth remembering. Folk music in particular speaks to me because its main substance lies in telling a damn good story in as engaging and entertaining of a way as possible. There are many stories I have yet to hear and have yet to tell, so I know that story will always have a place within my music,” says Roper.
For a long time Amari stayed a closet musician and only played in backyards and around bonfires until one day he got an opportunity to play a show at REO Town's Blue Owl Coffee in Lansing. Amari recently got the chance to perform at the Artist's Umbrella's Vibes in Bloom show and on the Opportunity Arts Stage at the Lansing 5:01 Block:Aid in Downtown Lansing. Amari has also been featured on WILX.
Amari spent a lot of his childhood in Nashville, Michigan at a campground that his family had gone to for a few generations. “There wasn't much in terms of technology or internet access at the time, so I would spend my time digging holes and making sand castles on the beach, catching frogs in the creek and wandering through the woods. I loved it. It's because of that time that I still actively try to set aside time away from technology to wander the woods. It's a grounding place for me, and I'm sure that the natural world will always find a way to creep into my songs. I started learning to play music around when I was 16 from the neighbor of a close friend. That neighbor is now a great friend and mentor who's been helping me ever since. I've been fortunate to have the support I have over the years and am grateful for the Lansing community.”
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News about Opportunity Arts and it's Affiliates.
Seizing the Opportunity:
The Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center Becomes an Opportunity Arts Affiliate.
Seizing the Opportunity:
The Poetry Room with
Masaki Takahashi becomes
Opportunity Arts Affiliates.