Studio School

Our professional faculty provides students of all ability levels with the fundamental skills that lead to full artistic growth. Small class sizes mean you’ll receive more one-on-one attention, and our topnotch facilities include spacious studios and specialized equipment – darkroom with enlargers, high-fire kilns, a jewelry/metals studio featuring a vacuum caster, and a computer lab.

Senior Visual Arts Curator / Artist in Residence

Armin Mersmann designs a strong program of fundamental classes and specialty programs taught by the region’s most respected artists/instructors, inspiring students of all ages.

As Artist in Residence, he draws on a half century of experience in his medium and provides patrons the opportunity to become intimately integrated in the world of art.

“I never made the conscious choice to be an artist, it’s just what I did.”

~ Armin Mersmann

Armin Mersmann was born in Remscheid, Germany, in 1955 and immigrated to the United States in 1962 where he grew up in an artistic environment greatly influenced by his father, Fritz, a successful oil painter. Mersmann feels his career as an artist was inevitable. Following college, Mersmann began a very successful career as a portrait artist in Chicago. Although financially rewarding, he stopped doing commission work and soon found more interest in the fine arts, concentrating mainly on realism in graphite.

“My goal as a realist is to understand complexities and details. My interest is how the human eye perceives, not how a camera sees. By the time I complete the work, I have developed a deep understanding of the subject that’s both heightened and very personal. I change what’s in front of me, not for the sake of change but because it’s inevitable and expected. It’s filtered through 50-plus years of living.” It is not unusual for Mersmann to put in more than 1,500 hours on a drawing.

Mersmann lives in Midland, Michigan, where he is the Artist in Residence and Studio School Manager at Midland Center for the Arts and shares a studio with his wife, Valerie Allen, an accomplished artist in her own right. Mersmann has been involved in the world’s most lucrative juried art exhibition: ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI. There, he finished 4th place with his entry, Gabriella, in 2014. Additionally, he has finished in the top 100 each year and been invited to participate in a small group exhibition known as “The Best of ArtPrize” at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

His works have been shown in more than 150 exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally. Mersmann has taught drawing and the creative process at the American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL; the Colorado Academy of Art, Boulder, CO; Northwood University, Midland, MI; Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI; and countless workshops within the United States.

Visit his website.


Our professional faculty includes some of the most accomplished and well-known artists in the Great Lakes Bay Region. They provide students of all ability levels with the fundamental skills that lead to full artistic growth.

The Studio School is funded in part by the Maxwell Pribil Memorial Trust.