Art Education Alumna Opens Versatile Space for Creativity
Hannah Grohman (’16, BFA Art Education) is on a mission to expand the West Michigan arts community with a new retail gallery space on the north side of Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) alumna is the driving force behind the recently opened Lions & Rabbits, a versatile space aimed at showcasing local artists while providing the community with opportunities for creative engagement. Billed as equal parts art gallery, retail shop, educational resource, and event center, Lions & Rabbits is every bit as ambitious as its creator.
(above): The interior of Lions & Rabbits, featuring a wide variety of work from local artists; (below): The space’s grand opening drew a large crowd from the local community. (images courtesy of Lions & Rabbits)
“I wanted to create a salon-style gallery. This is an opportunity to involve more people. There are people of all ages in Grand Rapids who are interested in the arts or want to buy art, so being able to bring an array of people to connect with a variety of artwork is my mission,” Grohman says. “It’s great to be able to tap into everyone’s creative process. In the end, it all comes down to honoring artistic expression.”
(above and below): Work from local artists covers the walls of Lions & Rabbits’ gallery space. (images courtesy of Lions & Rabbits)
As she was finishing her degree at KCAD, she met Shawn MacCartey, the owner of the building that is now home to Lions & Rabbits, at 1264 Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids. MacCartey became a mentor for Grohman as she grappled with the direction she wanted her career to take.
“It has always been a dream of mine to work within the arts, and Shawn would tell me drive is everything. If I wasn’t happy, I should find what makes me happy,” says Grohman. “To me, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to help others realize their own dreams.”
Grohman (left) with mentor Shawn MacCartey (right) (image courtesy of Lions & Rabbits)
At any given time, Lions & Rabbits features artwork for sale by more than 50 local artists and craftspeople. Those same artists also lead workshops focused on various forms of creative practice as well as yoga classes that promote mental and physical health, both of which are open to the community throughout the week. In this way, Lions & Rabbits encourages a deeper personal connection between the artists and their community.
“Involvement makes a community come together,” says Grohman. “Everyone has insight as to what will or won’t work. It's always beneficial to hear someone’s story.”
The diversity of both the event programming and the artists at Lions & Rabbits reflects Grohman’s desire to build a culture of inclusivity around her space. The name itself is a reflection of the broad diversity that exists in the animal kingdom, where creatures big and small are united by their strength and will to live.
“There are all different walks of life represented in this space,” she says. “Grand Rapids is diverse. Embracing that is what creates community. It's our hope that the space will become a hub for different types of art and artists, and allow the community to come together to celebrate and support one another.”
(above and below): Locally-made clothing is also for sale at Lions & Rabbits. (credit for below image: Erik Lauchie; above image courtesy of Lions & Rabbits)
Lions & Rabbits has already hosted a number of exhibitions and other programming, and the space’s event calendar is booked solid through the rest of the year. Still, Grohman feels she’s just scratched the surface of the space’s potential. She’s currently working with the Grand Rapids Public Schools to create a community art outreach program for local children.
“I want children to be able to come into my space and know that art can be a career,” she says. “I also want to teach children about exploration and healing, or art therapy. It's a part of everything that anyone creates. I want to create a safe environment that means something to someone who doesn't necessarily have the means to experience it at home.”
Whether it’s through her retail/gallery space or events like a Holiday Pop-Up Shop held this past December, a recent dance party fundraiser held to support the Daktoa Access Pipeline protests in Standing Rock, S.D., or a Storytelling workshop geared to help anyone discover the power of narrative, Grohman wants Lions & Rabbits to be a place people can come together to celebrate and support each other.
Yoga classes are also featured in Lions & Rabbits’ diverse lineup of programming. (image courtesy of Lions & Rabbits)
“I hope it does more than just help artists be able to support themselves financially – I want everyone to succeed,” Grohman says. “We need to reflect on the importance of art and what it does for the soul. There are so many talented people in our community. I want to let them shine.”
Learn more about KCAD’s Art Education program at kcad.edu/arteducation.