Box Factory for the Arts Unveils Series 5 Art Exhibition – Opening Reception Friday, July 19th

The Box Factory for the Arts is pleased to announce our next Art Exhibition – Series 5, featuring the artwork of Susan Teague, Erica Roberts, Turtel Onli, Marcy Mitchell and Jennifer Zona.

The Exhibition will begin on Friday, July 19th with an Opening Reception to celebrate the artists and their work. The reception is free and open to the public. Join us at 1101 Broad Street in St. Joseph from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. The Exhibition will run July 19th through August 24th at the Box Factory for the Arts, and can be visited during our normal business hours (Monday through Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm).

Two of the artists will be giving presentations during the exhibition dates. Wednesday, August 7th Turtel Onli will present Rhythmistic Visual Art: Future-Primitif Approaches from 6:00-8:00 pm. On Thursday, August 15th Susan Teague will present Women in Art: Remarkable Rebels and Trailblazers from 6:00-8:00 pm. These events are free and open to the public (donations encouraged and appreciated).

On Saturday, August 17 the artists will be on hand to discuss their work and take questions during a Gallery Walk from noon until 2:00 at the Box Factory. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Artists:

Susan Teague’s career as an artist has taken many unexpected, unplanned, delightful turns.  Little did Susan know as a teenager in the sixties that she would be flying by the creative seat of her pants the rest of her life being led by faith, humor, sincerity and the love of art.

Teague has chosen to explore a variety of mediums during her 45 years as a professional artist.  Ink, collage, acrylic, graphite, watercolor and print offer Teague the liberty to express her thoughts and feelings in different styles and techniques, moving her freely from tight to loose, playful to serious, sensuous to spiritual, colorful to toned greys, from massive to miniature.  The Bronson Children’s Hospital murals, an expansive series of murals in excess of 9,000 square feet painted in vibrant colors with acrylic paint, and the 8’x16’ panel of color tissue paper goddesses hanging in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Orlando, Florida are two examples of the artistic flexibility Teague enjoys so much.

Teague’s formal art training includes a B.S. in Fine Art from Western Michigan University; graduate studies in Fine Art at Murray State University; and Art Education from University of Kentucky at Lexington, Ky.  Throughout the years Teague embraced the opportunity of studying with internationally recognized artists such as Martha Erlebacher, Jack Beal and Michael Bergt. These tried and true artists have not only provided their expertise in helping her hone her artistic skills but they have strongly influenced the course of Teague’s artistic life.

Equal to Teague’s joy of creating art is her love for teaching.  Over the past three decades Teague has been teaching and passing on the creative torch to students at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kendall College of Art and Design and in the warm hearth of her home art studio.

Teague’s exhibit, Goddesses Galore: You and Me Sister, celebrates the contemporary Woman, validating her spectacular humanness as a champion in her own everyday story, and recognizing her core essence as a universal Goddess. These iconic works explore with honesty and purpose the roles, expectations, and identities placed on the women of today. They spin humor with an underlying depth, and lace the serious with a halting sense of pride. Nine works in the exhibition are retrospective, conceived during a time when Teague was in the end stages of cancer, with only a five percent chance of survival.

Teague shares the Robert R. Williams Gallery with Erica Roberts, a fine artist living in Saint Joseph, Michigan. Erica’s paintings are created with saturated, bold tones using oils and dichroic glass glazes. Her work is characterized by her paintings of confident women and their spirit animals. It often possesses an air of surrealism and dark fantasy.

Roberts says, “I paint in a therapeutic capacity, revising life events to have preferred outcomes, and narrating my fears.” Her body of work, Emergence, comprises reimaginations of Roberts’s experiences and the experiences of other women. Individually, these pieces episodically mark the milestones in her cognitive analysis. Comprehensively, they form a memoir of the female existence. In Roberts’s words, “Our society marginalizes women. The accounts of how this affects us often go untold, unheard, or prompt visceral resistance. However, art provides the opportunity to positively broach this controversial topic. With my work, I aim to bring women to the forefront, portraying them as the protagonists of their stories. These heroines transform their surroundings through the manifestation of themselves as animals and other elements with symbolic meanings. The ability to influence their environments in such a way bolsters their centrality in their universe. When viewing this body of work, I hope that its fantastical nature inspires the viewer and moves them to posit my assertion that women have the same breadth of character as men.”

Our Heartha Whitlow Gallery features the artwork of Turtel Onli of Chicago, Illinois. Onli is a creative artist whose career has touched upon a variety of disciplines in fine and applied visual art. He has been an art therapist, educator and illustrator. He has also distinguished himself in painting, drawing, illustration, publishing, fashion and multimedia production. This includes an extensive exhibition and publication record. He is known for having coined the term Rhythmistic in the 1970s to interpret his stylizations which fuse primitive and futuristic concepts. This was manifested with several solo exhibitions at Chicago’s innovative Younger Gallery during that prolific period. Onli earned a BFA and MAAT from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago which included studies in Paris France at the Sorbonne and the Centre Pompidou. He has work in the collections of  The Cool Globes Public Art Exhibition, The Chicago Children’s Museum, The Dusable Museum, The Johnson Publishing Company, the estates of Miles Davis and Alice Coltrane, along with freelancing illustration for the Rolling Stones, McDonalds, Motown, MODE Avant Garde Magazine, the Paris Metro Magazine, and Holt, Rinehart &Winston to name a few.

Onli has received many awards including Honorable Mention in the Salon Show at the Munster Center for Visual and Performing Art and the Prix Arts Electronica, a Laureate in the Concours des Dessin with the Foyer Internationale Accueil de Paris. His artwork was selected for presentation at FESTAC 1977: The Second World Festival of Black and African Art and Culture in Lagos Nigeria. Since 1990, Onli has been a regular Visiting Artist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a three time solo exhibitor at the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago. In 2006 at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention at Temple University Onli received a Life Time Achievement Award for his work to bring positive diverse images to the world of Graphic Novels and Comic Books. He has participated in group exhibitions with the Southern Shore Arts Association of Michigan City and the New Territory Arts Association of Benton Harbor.

Onli serves as Adjunctive Professor at Harold Washington College in Chicago and is Chief Operating Artist at ONLI STUDIOS.

Rhythmistic Smorgasbord features artwork from various bodies of work Onli has created over the years. Onli says, “My practice is as such that I tend to generate a stream of art focused around a central theme. Though largely figurative with non-objective expressive abstractions the themes are “No Evils,” “The Health Giving Watermelon,” “The Metaphysical,” and “The Illustrative Narrative.”  My hope is to connect the viewer to aspects of my practice that is future-primitif in nature while open to appreciation and dialog along traditional and non-traditional pathways.”

Marcy Mitchell’s artwork is usually focused on abstract, and impressionistic landscapes, although she also enjoys developing her technique through other art styles. Mainly self-taught, Marcy works in a variety of mediums with an emphasis on acrylic and oil pastels.

Being a Southwestern Michigan native, Mitchell couldn’t help but be influenced by Lake Michigan and the surrounding scenery of the local area.  She also draws inspiration from the four years she spent living abroad in Perth, Scotland and the other places she has traveled.

Applying abstraction allows Mitchell to explore the range of possibilities through line and color while pushing the boundaries of how the landscapes are usually perceived.  She says, “I often imagine there is much more beauty in this world than we are able to see with just our eyes. I believe it can be found in the midst of light and shadows. The spaces in between.”

Mitchell’s exhibition, Liminal Spaces, embodies this notion. Exploring the subtle movement of light and shadows, she applies onto canvas the subtle shift of colors that one would imagine exist in the space between what is and what will be. Creating new color palettes to communicate the artist’s point of view, a new visual language is developed to express the different sceneries she sees within her mind.

Mitchell’s paintings establish a link between her reality and that imagined by its observer. Each application of the painters knife or brush is intentional, and a highly intuitive process. With each work, she explores the range of possibilities allowed through line, and color while pushing the boundaries of realistic form. Rather than presenting a factual reality an image is constructed to delve deeper into our emotional nature and imagination.

Mitchell shares the Riverwalk Gallery with Jennifer Zona of Berrien Springs, Michigan. Zona began her professional studies in fine art at Southwestern Michigan Community College in Dowagiac, Michigan. While studying there she received an Associates of Arts degree and focused her studies on ceramics. Zona then completed a 5 year intensive art program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. In her third year of studies she went to Kingston, Jamaica to study abroad at The Edna Manley School for Visual and Performing Arts. This complete immersion for six months significantly influenced Zona’s chosen way of living as a contemporary female artist. She created wonderful, huge, abstract, woven forms from natural fibers from banana trees. This is where she began her sculptural weavings. 

After completing her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree and BFA thesis exhibition, Zona moved to New Mexico, where she received her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico. She also completed a textile residency in Blönduós, Iceland, where she developed textile weavings from Icelandic Wool. After moving back to Michigan, Zona began teaching at South Bend Museum of Arts and Krasl Arts Center.

The Birth of Chaos is a grouping of objects that are all made with clay and inspired by Zona’s passion for women’s health. While working on her artwork for the exhibition and finding many pieces developing into the shape of an egg, Zona found herself being influenced by current actions in a number of states working to pass abortion bans. It was upsetting to Zona to see multiple states passing legislation making aborion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy and rejecting amendments which would have added exceptions to the bans in cases of rape and incest. Zona says, “I guess I am a ‘feminist artist’ because I care about women’s health. I do not believe that these old white men have any rights making laws about women’s bodies. Where and why are there not laws on men’s reproductive rights?”

Part of Zona’s body of work for this exhibition also focuses on her feelings regarding the national debate on gun control and school safety, inspired by the 20 year anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

The Box Factory for the Arts is located at 1101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

For more information, contact the Box Factory for the Arts at 269.983.3688 or visit