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Meet your Neighbors: Nichole Sheaffer & Chris Grohs

Meet Chris and Nichole! Chris grew up in the midwest and studied close to home in West Lafayette, IN at Purdue University. With a formal education in Botany and secondary training in woodworking, he went on to apprentice in woodworking in Tucson, AZ. It was in Tucson that Grohs explored sculpture as a form of expression and began exhibiting work. At the heart of his work is the desire to understand and express the depth of our true nature, both in a physiological and emotional sense.

Nichole is a self-taught artist that began discovering and exploring the process of creation in 2010. From acrylic paints to sculpture, installation to textiles, and presumably many more mediums to come, Nichole is geared into executing a way of communicating conceptual pieces that deal directly with social issues, environmental concerns, and evolution of the human mind and actions. 

In 2010, Chris and Nichole founded Walnut Ink Projects. A creativity incubator, art gallery and mercantile located in Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District.

What brought you to the dunes? Chris: The opportunity to invest in an area where I could maintain a lifestyle that I desired. This area has it all: Fishing, adventure, and a “gem” as a natural environment. Nichole: I followed Chris. I actually grew up in LaPorte [so, I was already here]. The dunes lifestyle and this Great Lake have been a sanctuary and releasing point for me every since I could drive my car and sometimes I would even ride my bike.

How long did you live here? Chris: Michigan City resident for 10 years. Nichole: 1.5 years and counting [ I’m catching up! ]

What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Chris: Fish Nichole: (silence) Yep… That’s all for Chris. (laughing) We ( Arnica, age 11, Chris and I ) get out as often as possible and go explore this lush land. By boat on our local rivers or into deep waters for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan, hiking the variety of trails from Cowles Bog to Ambler Flatwoods, or ride down the Calumet trail for ice cream, or even just hang on the beach for sunset, we attempt to get out and immerse ourselves in the experience of this area of the globe.

Tell us a secret about the dunes. Chris: The appearance of the dunes from the waters. It’s not a secret, but it’s the perspective. Nichole: Yep, the secret is in the perspective. We are surrounded by some large scale industry in this area. It just so happens to be nestled right in the middle of some of the most intense geology with tons of rich history. It’s easy to overlook our fortune. So, therefore, I think the secret is all in perspective [where ever you live].

Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)

a) Latitude: N 41° 40′ 12″ Longitude: W 87° 2′ 25″ b) Latitude: N 41° 39′ 40″ Longitude: W 87° 0′ 38” [ none of them have to do with morels so keep hunting ] c) the sunrise or sunset from anywhere.

What would you like to teach people about the dunes? Chris: The fragility of this area. Nichole: Yes. Our world’s ecosystem relies on all of us to take care of it. This area is beyond fragile. Everything that we do effects the environment around us and it’s our job to educate ourselves on our actions.

Anything else? (please promote anything you like here!) Chris: This area is full of both environmental and cultural richness. It’s all about your P.O.V. (point of view) Nichole: Live it up. There are a ton of experiences out there just waiting for all of us to discover. Experiences that enrich our lives and time on this planet. Those experiences don’t exist in a computer or cell phone. They exist by utilizing your hands, voice, visions, and interactions with others to make life the most that it can be. Eve W. is pretty amazing too. Thanks Eve for all that you do!


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