Matt Thornton (aka T.O.K.I.N) is an artist on a quest for knowledge who uses writing, be it a poem, 16 bar verse, or interview article, to express himself, and to make sense of the world. Born in Chicago, Matt grew up in Lawton, MI. He graduated from Portage Northern in 2003. Matt believes that if people can show who they are with something they love, we would all be in a better place.
Matt has performed at Small Planet, The Loft, The Rocket, & Mac's Bar. He has opened for Bone Thugs N Harmony, Rich Boy and Schwayze, & performed with Zulu Nation in Chicago. He has been featured on Fox47, and in The Chronicle News, & Metro Parent. Matt is also the owner of Schem Team Consulting. Assisting businesses with their dreams through his writing and business acumen. He is also a partner in Umbrella Sock Company, a custom design sock business based in Mid-Michigan.
For more information on Matt Thornton & the work he does in the community check out:
To check out his music visit: https://m.soundcloud.com/t-o-k-i-n
For his other writings check out: medium.com/@schemeteamconsulting
Carla Pitawanakwat is a mixed media artist from Lansing, Michigan. She was initially inspired to create art after receiving her grandfather’s sketchbooks & seeing his drawings. Carla loves experimenting with different media and compiling it together. Since studying at Lansing Community College, she started working more heavily with digital art/design, while also studying animation, where she plans to focus her future endeavors. Carla’s work has been presented throughout Mid-Michigan including at the Broad Art Lab’s 2019 MLK Art Contest, and at Constellation Cat Café for their 2022 Fundraiser in December. She also enjoys creating portraiture and designing characters, and is available for commissions.
For more information on Carla & her work visit:
Kasey is a versatile artist, working across multiple mediums including photography, graphic art, painting, and mixed media. With a keen eye for composition and a passion for exploring new forms of visual expression. Kasey creates striking and thought-provoking art that pushes the boundaries of traditional techniques.
Through photography, Kasey captures the beauty and complexity of the world around them, whether it be through candid street photography or carefully composed landscapes. In graphic art. Kasey combines digital tools with traditional techniques to create bold and dynamic images that challenge our perceptions of the world. In painting and mixed media, she explores the endless possibilities of color, texture, and form to create surreal art that evokes emotion and provokes thought.
Kasey has exhibited her work at the Katalyst Gallery in Lansing, Art & Soul Gallery in St. John’s, and The Gallery at Brewery Park in Detroit. She is constantly experimenting and pushing herself to try new things. Kasey’s work can be viewed at her business page, Stella Cora Design at: www.facebook.com/stellacoradesign
Parker Knepp (Artist Name: PK) is an audio engineer, producer, hip hop artist, and entrepreneur originally from Charlevoix MI, but now residing in East Lansing, MI. He has a degree in Audio Technology from NMC in Traverse City, and a degree in Horticulture from MSU. PK is currently working on two companies. The first one, Apostle, is an investment group that comes up with solutions to problems. The 2nd company is Apostle’s solution to the entertainment industry, an app that lets you find and buy tickets to events, host events, and find freelancers for your events, whether you’re an artist, venue, or fan. On top of these companies, PK is creating collaborative hip hop albums with upcoming musicians, and mini-documentaries on these musicians, while running a podcast and other social media content as well. PK plans on moving to Detroit in a few years to make a lasting impact on the entertainment scene there, but in the meantime, is focusing on Lansing’s live music scene.
For more information on PK, visit:
PK’s Social Media:
Apostle’s Social Media:
Conscious Conversations 2023
A Monthly Topical Discussion Series at the East Lansing Public Library
See Dates Below
Abrielle (Abi) Mason has always been community driven, but it was while she was a student at MSU that she discovered specifically how she wanted to give back to her community. While minoring in Entrepreneurship at MSU, the university informed her of an opportunity to attend a young entrepreneurs retreat in Costa Rica in the spring of 2019. It was here that she was introduced to her dear friend Brian Helfman, the founder of Third Nature, a New York based company focused on building a fulfilling career and life, surrounded by a supportive, uplifting, and impact-driven community. “Brian started Third Nature as a way for young entrepreneurs to connect & share ideas during the pandemic,” said Mason. “I wanted to bring that same concept, but in person, here to my community in Mid-Michigan.”
Conscious Conversations, a monthly topical discussion series tailored for MSU students & young adults living and working in East Lansing & Lansing, is a space for meaningful, empathetic, and energizing discussion, around a monthly topic. Topics include “Choosing the Right Opportunities”, “Transitioning to Something New”, & “Making It Happen vs. Letting It Happen”. The monthly series will take place at the East Lansing Public Library. It is a space to feel safe, supported, and connected. “Attendees are encouraged to share what they have been feeling openly and honestly about both personal and contemporary issues,” said Mason. Abi hopes that the series cultivates a broader perspective on life and finding opportunities for personal, professional, and collective growth. The schedule for Conscious Conversations is as follows:
January 31st: Goal Setting
February 28th: Modern Love
March 28th: Choosing the Right Opportunities
April 25th: A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime
May 30th: Transitioning to Something New
June 27 th: Authentic Self Expression
July 25th: Learning From and Letting Go of the Past
August 29th: Making It Happen vs. Letting It Happen
September 26th: Finding the Right Environment
*October 24th: Belonging
November 28th: Acceptance
*December 19th: Recap 2023
(*Every last Tuesday of the month in 2023, excluding October and December)
Topics subject to change
About Abrielle Mason:
Abrielle (Abi) hails from Lansing, Michigan as a proud graduate of Michigan State University. She works as a User Experience Designer and Content Strategist at Gravity Works Design and Development. Abrielle is also training to become a certified professional life coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. She holds a Facilitator certification through Third Nature. In her free time, she hosts monthly Conscious Conversations, attends art shows, designs logos, and reads everything she can. Learn more about Abi at her website: https://abriellemason.wordpress.com/
For more information on Conscious Conversations visit:
The Dedfoot Duo of Wil Pruitt & Justin Deason have qualified for, and will compete against Blues artists from around the world at The Blues Foundation’s 38th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN. The Duo have been performing together throughout Michigan since 2018, and will be debuting original songs created for the competition. This will be the duo’s first time taking the stage in Memphis, TN, and they are honored to be representing Mid-Michigan at the Competition. The International Blues Challenge will run from January 24th-28th, in multiple music venues on Memphis’s world famous Beale Street. For more information on the International Blues Challenge visit: www.bealestreet.com/international-blues-challenge
The Dedfoot Duo qualified for the International Blues Challenge after winning the Best Duo Act for the solo / duo category of the 2022 Capital Area Blues Society Blues Brawl. In preparation for their trip to Memphis, the duo recently performed at the International Blues Competition Finalists Showcase at the Green Door on Lansing’s East Side. The Showcase was a fundraiser with proceeds going to help support the winners of the Blues Brawl on their journey to the Challenge. Anyone who is interested in supporting the artists on this endeavor should contact the Dedfoot Duo directly.
The International Blues Challenge’s Opening Ceremonies will take place in Memphis, TN at 6:00pm on January 24th at Beale Street’s Club 152, Wil & Justin will compete in the Quarterfinals on Wednesday, January 25th & Thursday, January 26th with a goal of advancing to the Semifinals the following day. “I’m a little nervous, but proud to rep Michigan,” said Pruitt. “It’s something that means a lot to me.” The IBC Finals will take place at noon on January 28th at Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre.
About Wil Pruitt & Justin Deason:
Wil Pruitt is a Vocal Performer, Front Man, & Guitarist working and performing throughout Michigan & the Midwest. Originally from Holt, Wil’s artistic endeavors are based out of Lansing & Detroit. He has developed his skills playing with multiple bands and experimenting with solo work. Wil has played multiple music venues throughout the Midwest including being invited to perform on stage at the world famous Tootsies in Nashville, TN. He has also performed at multiple Michigan music venues including UrbanBeat, The Green Door, The Loft, and GameTime. Wil credits Chris Cornell, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Withers, and Johnny Cash as the major influences in crafting his Bluesy, Soulful, Dirty Rock musical style. For more information on Wil & his work visit: www.linktr.ee/wil_pruitt
Justin Deason is a freelance professional guitarist from Lansing, MI who has spent over 15 years performing throughout the state. Emotive and enchanting, Justin’s smooth, soulful guitar sound is incendiary. He creates a unique and inspiring blend of Blues, Rock and Americana in his songwriting and energetic live performances. Justin also enjoys traveling and comedy. For more information on Justin & his work visit: www.facebook.com/JD517
About the International Blues Challenge:
“The International Blues Challenge represents the worldwide search for blues bands and solo/duo blues performers ready for the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break. The world’s largest gathering of blues musicians will take place on Beale Street, with over 20 clubs hosting the challengers and fans. In addition to featuring these final rounds of the prestigious blues music competition, the IBC event week will offer seminars, showcases, master classes, film screenings, networking events, book signings, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.”
For a full schedule of the International Blues Challenge visit:
It took an entire revolution around the sun, but Michigan based Artist Sera Reneé, (formerly known as Sarah Reneé Sanders), has completed her “Pieces of Me” Project, a 365 day, self-growth face/body paint project that started January 1, 2022, and ended on December 31, 2022. Each day, Sera would create a new face/body paint, and then present it to the public via her social media platforms, specifically Instagram & Facebook. The paintings were based on different concepts revolving around things related to the artist’s day. This could be an emotion, inspiration, or even an art concept or style that Sera wanted to work on. "Think of it like a unique journal/sketchbook, only on my face,” said Sera. “It was my way of documenting how I felt for the day, something that was important to me that day, or an idea for something I can look back on." All 365 paints can be viewed via the artist’s website at www.contrastedcontent.com/the-pieces-of-me-2022
Sera decided to create “Pieces of Me" to document her growth as an artist & a person. "Doing a project where you document yourself everyday gives you a different understanding of time,” said Sera. “It makes you mindful of how time blends into the reality of seaming fast while actually moving incredibly slow, and vice versa." The project also gave Sera the opportunity to create art when she wasn’t in a creative mindset. “When you do art as a career, you sometimes have to create art even when you’re not inspired to,” says Sera. “Some days were a breeze, and other days it was trudging through with everything on my shoulders, but I didn't quit. I would be lying if I said I didn't want to quit some days, but that wasn't an option.”
One of the most impressive things about the project, aside from its artistic excellence, is the dedication it took to actually create a new face/body paint each and every day. In addition to her paintings, throughout the year, Sera had to battle through illnesses, the ending of a relationship, organizing & founding the Rooted Reverence Festival in Mason along with her colleague Poet Morgan Madden, working part time for a local small business, artistic commissions, travel for events, events themselves, as well as the struggles that come with everyday life. Someone had asked Sera if she had paints already done & photographed for this project, so she would have something to post publicly each day, just in case she got sick or something. “I did not,” said Sera. “It wasn't about what was displayed to the public, I didn’t even announce that I was doing the project publicly. It was about the authenticity within myself. So I didn't allow myself to do that. I would paint a new piece everyday no matter what." Sera continued, “On August 26th, I literally got up early to do a paint because I had a colonoscopy scheduled for later that morning and didn’t know what condition I’d be in to do the paint afterward.” No matter how she felt, no matter her schedule, or how her day went, whatever happened, Sera’s day was not completed until her paint was completed & documented for the day. "There was also a period this year where I had a horrible case of Strep C. It didn't stop me. I still created and pushed through though it was incredibly hard. But now I know in myself, if I really want to do something, I'm the only thing standing in my way." Upon completion of “Pieces of Me”, Sera decided it will set up her next artistic endeavor that she will call “Sides of Me”, which will debut in 2023.
To view all 365 paintings of the “Pieces of Me” project, visit:
For more information on Sera Reneé & her work visit:
Visual Artist Mila Lynn with Hip Hop Artist & Music Producer Torrey GrayBring Lansing’s Inktober Trilogy to a Close
Come celebrate the 3rd and final year of this Lansing-Detroit Artistic Collaboration.
Mila Lynn & Torrey Gray’s Inktober 2022 Finale
Friday, November 11st, 2022
The Knapp Center
300 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Visual Artist Mila Lynn & Hip Hop Artist & Music Producer Torrey Gray will bring their Inktober Trilogy to a close with The Inktober Finale Show: A Night of Art & Music. The event will take place on Friday, November 11th from 7pm-11pm at the Knapp Center in Downtown Lansing, and will feature performances by Torrey Gray, hors d’oeuvres provided by Veg Head, as well as a Silent Art Auction. Tickets are available for $25 and can be purchased via Eventbrite:
For the third & final year, Mila & Torrey collaborated on the Inktober project that they originally brought to Lansing in 2020 as part of the Inktober Challenge created by New York Times Best Selling Illustrator Jake Parker. As in previous years of the project, Mila created 31 all new pieces of art that were generated using daily prompts provided by Jake Parker’s Official Inktober Event as well as an additional 32nd Prompt that Mila & Torrey would create to tie the project together. Torrey Gray once again created a new piece of music, this year collaborating with musicians from around the world, for each daily prompt that accompanied a daily time lapse video of Mila creating each piece of artwork. For those keeping score, that is 96 visual art pieces & 96 pieces of music created in total over the life of the project.
Throughout the entire month of October, all of the artwork created by Mila Lynn each day was on display at Veg Head, Lansing’s newest plant based eatery. This year’s pieces were painted on vinyl records as opposed to using traditional pen & paper. Over the years, other artists from the community have also been involved in and/or inspired to create, drawing their inspiration from Mila & Torrey’s project. In 2021, Christina Castilla created 31 heart themed art pieces, & Autumn Hopkins created 31 different pairs of earrings. This year, Poet Morgan Madden & Visual Artist Kylee Kellett collaborated to create original paintings & poetry based off of this year’s prompts. All of these artists, as well as other artists who have participated, credit Torrey & Mila with inspiring them to take part in the project.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, but also extremely rewarding,” says Lynn. “It’s nice to look back and see all that we have done over the life of the project.” For Torrey, the project has hit him on an even more personal level. In 2021, Torrey adopted a dog that he named Crispy, after a prompt from last year’s Inktober. “Mila drew Crispy on one of the records for a piece this year,” says Gray. “I guess Crispy has become the unofficial mascot for Inktober.” At the Finale Event, Mila & Torrey look forward to seeing the community come out one last time to experience their Inktober project. “It’s going to be nice to get together with our friends, colleagues, and community to reminisce on what the project has been all about,” says Lynn. Mila & Torrey’s Inktober project has helped build the art community here in Lansing, and while this chapter may be coming to a close, we are excited to see what the two artists have in store for the future.
Inktober is a month-long art challenge created by Artist Jake Parker in 2009 that is focused on improving skill and developing positive drawing habits. Every day for the month of October anyone participating in the Inktober challenge creates an ink drawing and posts it online. Inktober has grown into a worldwide challenge with artists from around the world participating every year. Starting in 2016, Jake Parker created the Official Inktober Prompt List with a different word assigned to each day of the month. Some of the prompt words for 2022 include Gargoyle, Bouquet, Ego, & Farm. Be sure to use & follow the hashtags #inktober, #inktober2022, #mindofmila & #definedetroit on Instagram to check out all of the campaigns throughout the years.
***Mila Lynn & Torrey Gray’s 2022 Inktober Campaign is separate from the Official Inktober Event hosted by Jake Parker, do not contact Jake Parker or Inktober directly for details. Mila & Torrey are participating in the event as individual participants, and not as official Inktober partners.***
To Purchase Tickets for The Inktober Finale visit:
For More Information about Mila Lynn visit:
To hear Torrey Gray’s Ink21 Playlist, visit:
For a list of Inktober Rules visit:
Frequently Asked Questions about Inktober:
SPELL CON MI 2022
Saturday, November 5th from 3pm-8pm
1300 Eureka Street
Lansing, MI 48912
Daimonikos Productions, headed by Aondreiel Daimonikos & Dikastíria Daimonikos will present Michigan’s second annual Spell Con MI on Saturday, November 5th, from 3pm - 8pm, at The Fledge in Lansing. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume if they so choose. Tickets are available via Eventbrite with General Admission Tickets for $20 dollars, and VIP Tickets for $60 dollars. General Admission ticket includes all performances, workshops, and access to the Metaphysical Marketplace from 3-8pm. The VIP Ticket includes everything from the general admission ticket, as well as access to the VIP Balcony Lounge, a complimentary Tarot reading, as well as a free gift. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit:
“Our objective is to offer a welcoming space where all can feel the excitement of exploring something out of the ordinary,” said Dikastiria Daimonikos. Spell Con is a metaphysical convention that originated in Long Island, NY in 2019, and came to Michigan when Aondreiel & Dikastiria relocated to the region in 2021. After presenting Spell Con in New York for multiple years, they decided to produce a second Spell Con last year in Michigan for their new friends, neighbors, and community. “We got a lot of support from the community for the event last year, and we look forward to growing the event even bigger this year, and years to come,” said Aondreiel Daimonikos. The event will feature a metaphysical market, a live recording of the Spell Cast Podcast, a spell jar workshop, multiple workshops on the misconceptions of Vodou, a performance by world renowned Opera singer & vocal performer Stephano Andreotti, and an open Ecstatic Dance session.“Our Metaphysical market includes psychic readings, spiritual healers, witchy crafts, reiki, and other occult themed activities,” said Dikastiria Daimonikos. She continued, “We are excited to have Michiganders who celebrate the arcane & occult as part of this year’s festivities. There is actually a very strong metaphysical community here in Michigan.” The Daimonians hope that this year's Spell Con will foster & promote spiritual growth, while bringing healing and enrichment to the community through culture and the arcane Liberal Arts.
For more information on Spell Con 2022 & to purchase tickets visit:
For more information on Daimonikos Productions visit:
For more information on The Fledge visit:
Saturday, September 24th from 7pm-10pm
The Xperience Kalamazoo
145 Farmers Alley
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Artist Maya James is presenting the Come As You Are “Gay-la”, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ people of color, on Saturday, September 24th from 7pm-11pm at The Xperience located in Farmer’s Alley in Kalamazoo, MI. The event will feature a silent auction of Maya James exclusive art series entitled “Faces PT III”, a collection of over 30 original painted portraits featuring black and queer/trans community members, leaders, legends and entertainers. General Admission Tickets are available for $10 with VIP Tickets available for $40, with a generous portion of the proceeds going to support local nonprofits including Radical Kalamazoo & OutFront Kalamazoo. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.eventbrite.com/e/come-as-you-are-gayla-hosted-by-maya-james-art-studio-tickets-403604962307
The "Come As You Are Gayla!" will be the first of its kind in Kalamazoo. It is a community celebration of Black Pride to empower the LBGTQIA+ people of color to vote and create a safer place for all. “Faces Pt III” is the third collection of portrait paintings in a series by Artist Maya James entitled “Faces”, featuring LGBTQIA+ legends and community members of color. During the Gala, all the pieces in the collection will be put up for silent auction with each piece starting at $100. A portion of the proceeds will go to support Legacy House, an LGBTQIA+ youth housing facility created by Outfront Kalamazoo. The event will feature a DJ, Music, Hors D'oeuvres, fun, and dancing as part of the evening’s festivities. There will also be a cash bar to purchase signature cocktails, curated by The Xperience Event Venue in Farmer’s Alley.
Another component of the event is an initiative to register voters for the upcoming November election. Representatives from local community groups will be in attendance at the event to register voters, and local political figures will be in attendance. “Now more than ever, black queer issues must be put to the forefront and streamlined in the face of radical racist, anti-LGBTQIAP+, and anti-choice candidates within our state,” said James. “This benefit is how we fight back with the vote.” In addition to getting registered to vote, attendees can also sign up for text message reminders of election dates, and get more information on how they can help spread the importance of the Black Vote.
The Come As You Are Gala is sponsored by Black Voters Matter & the Kalamazoo Artistic Development Initiative, a program by The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and Outfront Kalamazoo.
For more information on the Come As You Are Gala & to purchase tickets visit:
For more information on Artist Maya James visit:
For more information on The Xperience visit:
For more information on OutFront Kalamazoo visit:
News about Opportunity Arts and it's Affiliates.
Monday Night Masterpiece:
New Live Talk Show & Art Experience Coming to the Capital City on Monday Nights this Fall
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.