We are so fortunate to have wonderful patrons of the arts in our region, and we love getting to hear their thoughts and reflections on what the arts mean to them. Thanks to Steph Hogan for all she does to support the Arts Council and the arts scene in Greater Lansing. We are pleased to share her responses to our questions.
Arts Council: How did you become introduced to the Arts Council and how many years have you been a fan and supporter?
Steph Hogan: Five years ago I made my debut as a professional artist during Arts Night Out. It was during preparation for that event that I learned about the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. Shortly after that Arts Night Out, I became a member of the Arts Council and actively began seeking out and taking advantage of every amazing opportunity they offered!
AC: What are some of your favorite memories of your involvement with the Arts Council?
SH: In 2018, I had the opportunity to share my first solo exhibition of my artwork through the Arts Council's featured artist program. This show gave me the opportunity to practice many fundamental skills such as: creating and curating a body of work, preparing and installing artwork for exhibition, event marketing, in-person sales of fine art and more. The Arts Council team was so helpful and welcoming, and the reception absolutely fueled my soul and creativity.
I have also participated in the ACGL smARTs programming (as an attendee and panel member), their open group grant consultations, and have served as a mini-grant reviewer and Creative Placemaking Summit presenter and attendee. Through each of these opportunities, I have gained significant knowledge and experience that has continued to propel my career.
AC: What personal connections to arts and culture do you have in Greater Lansing?
I am a born and raised Lansing local with a strong connection to arts and culture in our region from a young age. I have early memories of Saturday morning art classes at MSU, attending shows at BoarsHead Theatre, exploring the East Lansing Art Festival and cultivating curiosity at Impression 5 Science Center and Potter Park Zoo. As an adult, I especially cherish the opportunity to support favorite arts and culture organizations through my artwork, donating a portion of select sales to groups that especially resonate with me, like the Arts Council of Greater Lansing!
I also think it's really important to cultivate connection and community. I enjoy the support of Mid-Michigan Art Guild, Cedar Street Art Collective and Working Women Artists (of which I am a past President). Each of these groups actively enriches our area by sharing their work in a variety of locations throughout the Greater Lansing Region. These events are always free to view and attend and make exploring fine art very accessible.
AC: What is important about the arts for you?
SH: The single most important benefit I always go back to when thinking about the importance of art is Connection. For me, the process of creating is an escape and personal meditation, but the process of sharing my art is all about connecting with others. It allows people to see parts of me I may not always articulate clearly through other means, and it serves as a catalyst for conversation and discovery. I believe the arts have the same impact on a larger scale as well. Art has the ability to start conversations, connect communities, create shared experiences and tell collective stories.
AC: What is "your thing" in the arts? (What are your favorite arts activities?)
SH: In-person art festivals, fairs and receptions! As I mentioned previously, I just love the energy and connections made when viewing and talking about visual arts! A particular favorite event is Arts Night Out. I have participated many times as both a featured artist and an attendee, giving me the opportunity to build relationships with other artists, our art-loving community and several local businesses. In my opinion, this event is invaluable for emerging artists because of its broad reach and low barrier for entry. I recommend regular Arts Night Out participation to local artists, as well as community members, looking for something unique to do in the area.
AC: What are your hopes for the role of arts and culture in our region in the future?
SH: I believe strongly that art and creativity are imperative to a well-functioning society. The arts stimulate development in areas such as curiosity, problem-solving and imagination. These skills are invaluable for individuals and communities. The arts serve as an outlet for play in an overworked culture and connection in a divisive time. My hope is that we'll continue to see the value and benefits of both practicing and appreciating the arts and continue to fund access to the arts in schools.
AC: What other things, if any, would you like to share?
As an emerging artist in Lansing, I can say without a doubt that the single best decision I made when I began my professional career was to align myself with our incredible Arts Council. I know a lot of other local artists feel the same way, and I encourage them to give back in the way that best suits them, allowing the Arts Council to continue to support the up-and-coming artists that follow in our footsteps.