Greenbush woman works to foster creativity in Alcona County

News Photo By Temi Fadayomi Helen Heirta works on pottery in the ceramics room of her Greenbush art studio on June 10.

GREENBUSH — Greenbush resident Helen Heirta aims to grow the culture in Alcona County by transforming her family home into a vibrant hub of creativity and learning and founding the Huron Artist Residency Program.

“Alcona County has so much to offer through art,” Heirta said. “We can bring out the best in our community.”

Heirta said she launched the Huron Artist Residency Program during the coronavirus pandemic as a way of providing a retreat for artists of various disciplines.

According to Heirta, as a part of the project, an artist is invited to spend two weeks in July working on and developing his or her craft. They are given room and board and access to the Heirta’s studio, where the artist may work on a project while incorporating elements from the local Alcona County area into their work.

“When I have artists come for their residency, they have ample space to explore different mediums,” Heirta says, “be it ceramics, painting, or textiles.”

News Photo By Temi Fadayomi A shelf inside Helen Heirta’s Greenbush art studio features some of Heirta’s artwork on June 10.

According to Heirta, in addition to supporting artists, the program is deeply committed to enriching the local community. That involves collaborating with local schools and introducing students to the therapeutic and empowering art of pottery.

“Making things with our hands stimulates our happy hormones,” Heirta said. “It’s like therapy, especially for young kids who are often facing challenges.”

One of her notable projects is a collaborative mural created by Alcona Community Schools students. The mural project, which was initially met with resistance by the students, ultimately fostered a sense of pride and community among the students, Heirta said. The mural is now on display between the front doors of the community auditorium at Alcona High School

“It became a group effort and a group result,” Heirta said. “They learned to share and collaborate, creating a legacy statement about their sense of place.”

According to Heirta, she is in talks with Alcona schools for a number of other projects that she would like to see implemented. An example of one of those projects is a sculpture trail on the Alcona school property, integrating art with science and math education.

News Photo By Temi Fadayomi Helen Heirta stands in the ceramics room of her Greenbush art studio on June 10.

That project aims to provide economic stability through art, offering students a potential career path while promoting Alcona County’s unique cultural heritage.

Heirta claims that her primary aim is to inspire and uplift her community. Through the efforts of the Huron Artist Residency Program, she feels like she is doing a good job.

“I feel like I’m doing good,” Heirta said. “Like I’m really contributing to the community.”

News Photo By Temi Fadayomi The ceramics room in Helen Heirta’s Greenbush art studio is seen on June 10.

News Photo By Temi Fadayomi Helen Heirta’s residence on U.S.-23 in Greenbush is seen on June 10.


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