MERCER, Wis. — “Penokee: Explore the Iron Hills,” a traveling art exhibit featuring 18 artists inspired by the Penokee Hills opened at the Mercer Public Library on Wednesday night with a reception, music, and the addition of visual art and poetry by Mercer students. It will remain at the library until Dec. 1.
The exhibit has been featured at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, Lac Court Oreilles Community College in Reserve, and at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center over the past year.
“It’s been really successful,” Terry Daulton, exhibit coordinator and artist, said. “The artists went together to the Penokee Hills, and went back separately to hone in on what they wanted to do.”
The artists created the concept and funded the exhibit themselves, Daulton said, with no outside funding except for some travel stipends.
The message behind the exhibit is “to get people to appreciate the area, learn, and respond to issues (concerning the Penokees) with a good knowledge base,” Daulton said, so in the future it will be a good place.
“So few people know about the Penokees,” Daulton said.
Mercer students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade went on a field trip to the Penokees earlier this fall, which inspired their work in the exhibit, said Grant Nelson, Mercer’s seventh through twelfth grade English teacher. The trip was inspired by parents suggestions at the beginning of the year.
“It was a great cross-curricular activity,” said Nelson. 40 students, three teachers, parents and community members took the trip.
“I thought it was totally amazing,” said seventh grader Colin Hartigan, who created a poster digitally, along with poetry for the exhibit.
“Corrigan’s Lookout was the best sight you can see. It was the best field trip I ever went on.”
Caitlyn Hartigan, Colin’s twin, created poetry inspired by the trip and said, “It was amazing to see what the world was like before mining and cities.”
Nelson said it was a great opportunity for students to see a part of Iron County that not many get to see. “Very few people walk through those hills.”
Trail maps of the Penokees were available at the exhibit, and Daulton said that people may use them to visit sites and draw their own inspiration. They may then submit their art to the Penokee Arts website
at www.penokeearts.wordpress.com and become partner artists in the project.