People Public Figures

Gina’s Gallery – Featured Artist, Karson Schenk

By Tom Dennis

Originally Published on October 5th, 2018.

Gina’s Gallery, an artist’s cooperative, is open in downtown Port Huron at 411 Grand River Avenue and features local artists who display a wide variety of art forms.  This third in a series of articles, spotlights paper collage artist Karson Schenk, one of several artists showing their work.

Karson Schenk is an amazing young woman with a passion for Indigenous Peoples and Endangered Animals.  Karson is a freshman at the University of Michigan and I wanted to interview her prior to her departure for the fall semester.  Our calendars just didn’t connect so Karson promised to send me her bio from which I would write her feature.  Upon reading her report I realized that I wouldn’t be able to tell her story as well as her own words that were so well stated.  Her artwork also shows her passion in a way that is difficult to express with words and although I’ve included a photograph, you really must see her exhibit at Gina’s to really appreciate the unique style and expert presentation.

Karson’s story in her words:

My name is Karson Schenk, I grew up in Port Huron, and as a kid I fell in love with the outdoors, spending most of my childhood running around outside. In high school I became passionate about Environmental Science, and I was driven to try to make some sort of change to promote environmental awareness at my school. I had been a 3 sport athlete at the time, and when I started to lose my passion for sports in around 11th grade, I found myself in AP studio art, putting in the hours into my work that I would’ve been putting in on the court or the field. I realized that I could make art that combined topics I was interested in, and I became a sort of researcher, looking up issues and connecting ideas. It started with Indigenous rights, and how issues they face correlate with the environmental issues endangered animals face. I was honestly learning more about issues than I ever would have in any other class, and I was able to illustrate them in ways I understood. I have entire sketchbooks of ideations, facts, and ideas that backup each piece, and my portfolios became a place of study and learning; I loved it. In my second year of AP studio art, I was introduced to paper collage, and focused on endangered animals; incorporating issues that contribute to their decline in their bodies.

I had assumptions about art and artists before I got into it, I understood that art was not something that was wise to pursue, and the stereotype that artists are “weird” or “emotional” or socially awkward and so on, and so on. But I was so wrong! Artists are some of the hardest working and driven people I know, and they are so fearless! When an artist combines their work with activism, even more powerful impact to a cause ensues, and I am so inspired by that.

I almost didn’t pursue art in college until I found the Art Program at the University of Michigan that would allow me to take challenging academic courses as well as art classes. I’ve been able to meet people with interests in nearly every field, and I am realizing how art can be applied to all of those different fields in different ways. I’m most passionate about art’s potential as a powerful catalyst for change. I now see creative people as the movers and shakers of the world; challenging us to see the world in new ways, expand our perspectives and question the status quo. And there are so many careers in art out there. Artistic skills can be applied in so many ways. People just need support and guidance to learn how to apply them. I am so thankful for the support I’ve had from everyone around me; Parents, teachers and friends, pushing me to continue to pursue this passion.

Thank you to all of you that support artists! It is so important that we encourage kids to develop their own voice in art, and feel confident to show others, and help anyone, any age, pursue what they love.

Check out my work at Karsonschenkart.com, and follow my Instagram page at @karsonart !

The gallery operates at 411 Grand River Avenue, on the ground floor of a recently renovated building located one block east of the Sperry Theaters and if you are old enough to remember, just north across the street from the long-closed SS Kresge five and dime store.  The business opens daily at 11:00 AM with closing times varying at 6:00 and 9:00 PM.


Tom Dennis is a resident of Fort Gratiot where he and Laurie Melms Dennis, his wife of 45 years, tend to their bird and butterfly friendly gardens. He is a speaker and free-lance writer, passionate birder, advanced master gardener, creation scientist, and naturalist, with degrees from Michigan State University in Zoology and Biology. Tom is an active member of Blue Water Audubon Society, Master Gardeners of St. Clair County, Port Huron Civic Theater, Ross Bible Church, Tapestry Garden Club, Blueways of St. Clair, and is a steward of the Blue Water Riverwalk with Friends of the St. Clair River.

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