Local artists share creative opportunities at Revolve CC conference


Olivia Apa/NW

Hannah Cajandig-Taylor, a local artist and NMU grad, talks about her experiences with finding inspiration in unexpected places, such as at her bartending job, at the Revolve CC. Cajandig-Taylor was one of many local artists who talked about the struggles of being a small artist and ways to discover success.

Olivia Apa, Features Writer

Revolve Creative Conference is a creative collaboration conference in Marquette that aims to promote creativity through collaboration, cross-discipline work and creative business. 

“Revolve … grew out of trying to foster creative community and break down barriers between the different disciplines so that all of those can mix and create interesting connections,” said Keith Ellis, executive director of Revolve CC and graphic design professor at NMU.  

Ellis wanted the conference to highlight creative people who have not received high levels of fame for their work but still make beautiful, creative art in disciplines from photography to writing to filmmaking. 

“Some of the best ideas I have ever seen have been from really unusual collaborations or unusual research that I have done that had nothing to do with necessarily my discipline,” said Ellis.

Revolve CC provides the knowledge that being successful as a creative individual can be accomplished anywhere, and that creativity can be found in fields that are not traditionally thought of as artistic, such as technology and business. 

Marquette is an ideal location for a creative collaborative conference because it gives students the opportunity to connect with local, young professionals and people that have been established in the area. 

“I have always wanted to foster a sense of community in my classrooms because I feel like you should be learning as much from your peers as you should from your professors, if not more, and … I [wanted] to see if we could take that idea of fostering community … and blow it out and make it a community thing,” said Ellis.

Including more of the Marquette community is one of the reasons the event did not take place on NMU campus. Ellis also made sure to keep prices low for students to encourage more of them to attend.

“The price was very, very affordable,” said Ellis. “I want to make it so students can come and be inspired and see cool things and enjoy the moment.”

Over the weekend of Nov. 5-6, multiple different artists gathered in the Masonic Building to share their stories and inspiration. 

The speakers were mostly chosen through who the event coordinators knew, so many of them were NMU graduates from various different disciplines. 

One of these speakers was Hannah Cajandig-Taylor who is a writer and artist living in Marquette and finding inspiration in unexpected places. She graduated from NMU in May of 2021 with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has several works that can be found on her website. Cajandig-Taylor is also the author of the book “Romantic Portrait of a Natural Disaster,” a collection of poems based on the elements of climate change. 

Cajandig-Taylor gave a presentation at Revolve CC called “Creating Our Stories: Finding Inspiration In Unexpected Places.”

In this session, Cajandig-Taylor discussed the certain joy and connection that can be found through writing. She also acknowledged that inspiration can be hard to come by, and sometimes it is difficult to produce a piece of work. 

However, as a seasoned author, she spoke of different strategies to try and revive inspiration that may have been lost — connecting with others, mining the mundane, research and play. 

“Normally when I think of collaboration, I would go to other writers, but sometimes when I am stuck I go towards other creatives who are doing things that are wildly different from me, and something really beautiful and unexpected comes out,” said Cajandig-Taylor. 

Cajandig-Taylor is collaborating with her sister, an aerial artist, who is going to create an interpretive dance based off of a poem she wrote. 

“It is also really important to emphasize the idea of ‘connect’,” said Cajandig-Taylor. She believes that being an artist can often become lonely, but there is much beauty found in connecting with other people. 

In addition to being a writer, Cajandig-Taylor bartends and often takes notes on happenings in the bar. This is a technique she uses to find inspiration throughout her daily life, to take a seemingly average, mundane day and turn elements from it into a story. 

Cajandig-Taylor believes that research does not have to be boring; indulging in childlike curiosity and learning about something fascinating can be helpful in generating inspiration. She also emphasized the importance of playing with creativity and allowing the process to unfold because the process is just as important as the product. 

Cajandig-Taylor closed her session by reminding the audience to be kind to oneself, to adjust during the creative process, and that adversities can actually be advantages. 

John Scheibe was another presenter at the conference as well as an NMU grad, a photographer, actor, filmmaker, author and content creator. 

Scheibe graduated from NMU with a theatre degree and took it all the way to New York City. There he lived with his wife while bartending, auditioning and attending various lessons. However, in April of 2020 he found himself back in remote Marquette as a result of COVID-19. 

For the first time in a long time, Scheibe did not have any obligations after moving back to Marquette so he was able to fully immerse himself in his art. He discovered and experimented with his artistry and found that remote work leads to accessibility and productivity. 

Scheibe gave a presentation at Revolve CC called “Create Your Artistry: Fearless Experimentation & Collaborating With Yourself.” 

In this session Scheibe spoke of his journey as a content creator. He realized that he was the only person in charge of his creative career, and that he did not need to follow one form of art, rather he followed what called to him. 

Scheibe emphasized that artistry can thrive remotely through a video he made titled “Artist in Isolation.” Moving to Marquette allowed him to understand that one does not need to live in NYC to be successful. 

Scheibe is currently working as a remote artist for the Boreal Collective and Innovate Marquette. Some of his work can be found on his website. He is immersing himself in the world of art, as he encouraged his audience to do. 

Also featured at the conference was Robert Shirlin, owner of Edge of Reality VR Arcade, in a session called “Virtual Reality: It’s Here, Now What Do We Do With It?”

Shirlin explored how VR is used in many aspects, such as entertainment, art, therapy and education, using specific examples from athletes training with VR. He discussed how VR began in the area of Marquette, where it is now, and the challenges it took to get there. 

All of these artists and more came together at the Revolve Creative Conference to continue to collaborate and allow artistry to grow and flourish.

“I think that it is important for more people to foster [creativity], and the more we can build a creative community up here, the more opportunity there is,” Ellis said.