Muskegon Heights student named 2021 Emerging Artist of Color

Muskegon County

WHITEHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — An arts council in Muskegon County is working to increase diversity in the area. The studio recently named its first Emerging Artist of Color: a student at Muskegon Heights Academy.

At the Arts Council of White Lake-Nuveen, only 4% of artists identify as people of color. This program is the council’s first stride towards including more diverse communities in both its gallery and the broader White Lake community.

Nina Oliver, the recipient of this year’s residency, says she was excited when she received the news. 

Through the residency, Oliver received studio time, mentorship, supplies and $500 to further her studies.

“It shows me a lot about art in different types of ways, not just in drawing and painting, but also in like sculpting and other types of art, just many other things to learn,” said Oliver.

“Up in Whitehall where we are, we don’t have a lot of diversity,” said Erin Peyer, the director of the Arts Council of White Lake-Nuveen.

Peyer says they hired a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant to figure out how to make their programs more inclusive. 

“We actually ended up extending the program. It was set up that she would be here for two weeks, and she’s been here for three. We just like her so much,” said Peyer.

Oliver hopes this inspires more kids like her to pursue art and know that anything is possible.

“For me, that’s what it’s like to start doing more things outside of my comfort and stuff like that, and to learn more about many other things,” said Oliver. “It excites me that it’ll help other kids out there that need it.”

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