Connecting with Art By Liz Arnquist
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I had the opportunity to experience many world-class museums. My dad and I loved the Science and Industry Museum. I wanted to touch things, build things, and see how things work. That's how I experience the world, by becoming immersed in it. My mom and sister loved the Art Institute. I'll be honest, I didn't get it. I didn't feel a connection to pieces from long ago, of places I have never been. I am almost embarrassed to admit, I didn't develop an appreciation for art until moving out west. It started with an artist who created watercolor paintings of local mountains. I was in awe. I instantly felt transported to my own adventures on that mountain.For the first time in my life, I experienced a deep connection with a piece of art. During my time in Washington, that appreciation expanded to pottery and jewelry. It was around the same time as the pivotal painting experience that I made my first trip back to Marquette after graduating from Northern Michigan University. My college roommate and I were looking for a way to take a piece of the U.P. with us, as we had both moved away from the Upper Peninsula in the years following graduation. She decided on a tattoo—Marquette has some of the most talented and professional tattoo artists I've ever met! That didn't feel quite right to me, but perhaps it was my inability to commit or my aversion to pain. It was then, I remembered Beth Millner. That funky little shop on Washington St in downtown. As an NMU student, I had always admired her work. I pulled up the website and as I scrolled through the pages I experienced the same feeling I had when I first saw the watercolor paintings of Washington mountains. It was like every piece, every little work of art, transported me back to Marquette. Jumping off of Black Rocks, watching the northern lights dance over Wetmore Landing, the feeling you get watching the sunrise above Lake Superior from the top of Sugarloaf. I was absolutely in awe of Beth's ability to encapsulate not only the natural beauty of the Yoop, but also the emotions and experiences of anyone who is lucky enough to spend time there. As someone who was learning to develop an appreciation of artistic endeavors, I was blown away.