BIG RAPIDS — The Midwest is often unfairly referred to as “fly-over” states by those who do not reside in the area, and even by some who do call the region their home.
Through his art, Jeff Wier is putting that particular title to bed for good, at least as far as the state of Michigan is concerned.
Wier stopped by Artworks in Big Rapids on Friday afternoon during its Brown Bag Series to display some of his art, which was featured in the venue’s Batdorff Gallery.
He currently resides in Hudsonville and originally hails from Grand Rapids, said he is happy to be able to combine his passions of art, kayaking and woodworking into a single creative medium.
“I’ve always loved woodworking, and I used to do it for a living as a young guy, but then I got out of it,” Wier said. “Then I started kayaking, and I would see other people’s boats and decided that I wanted to marry the two things. I truly love what I do.”
Wier also said that his passion for woodworking and his passion for kayaking are all he needs to remain motivated and continue his artistic venture.
Before he was capturing scenes reminiscent of something in a Natural Geographic magazine, Wier owned his own transmission shop, before ultimately selling it in 2014.
“After that, I promised myself I would only do things in life that I wanted to,” Wier said. “For me, that is kayaking, building kayaks, and photography. I can do all of these together, along with camping and getting out to see Michigan.”
To date, Wier has constructed one full-sized kayak out of wood, but has also taken a litany of photographs throughout the state, most featuring a kayak with a scenic backdrop.
In some cases, Wier said individuals have been surprised to learn that all of his photographs were taken somewhere in one of Michigan’s two peninsulas.
“I do travel to other places, but there’s enough beauty here in Michigan that could keep you busy for a lifetime,” Wier said.
For Wier, it’s all about being able to share something beautiful with other people and be able to inspire them to find their respective passion along the way.
Through his photographs, Wier is able to bring someone to a place they otherwise might not have ever visited, such as ice caves in the UP.
“Just trying to share what I find beautiful with other people; I want them to be able to see what I see,” Wier said. “I know not everybody is able to go, so I wanted to make it available to everybody to see. Most people don’t want to travel across Lake Superior on a snowmobile.”