Getting to know local artist Oaklee Thiele

In this episode, Erika Townsley sits down with Oaklee Thiele, an artist represented at Light Gallery + Studio year round, who lives and works in Grand Rapids and show work internationally.


Oaklee is showing her newest body of work, “I Am Hers, and She Is Mine,” a series of work featuring her beloved service dog Coco, at Bend Gallery through the month of March. Contact Oaklee through her website or Bend Gallery directly to see her work in person.

Oaklee opens up about the inspiration of her work today, working with mostly self portraits and the familiar female form. She gives us an honest viewpoint on how her anxiety and stress comes through her artwork and gives her an outlet to express how she navigates through life. “I Am Hers, and She Is Mine” is a deep dive into what it means to live with severe anxiety, and the special bond that comes into place in having a service dog so in tune with Oaklee’s emotions.

We hear more about Oaklee’s education, and how she left home in Springfield, IL to attend boarding school at Interlochen Center for the Arts at just 15. After graduating from that program, she travelled overseas to London where she found out that the experience of life could be a better teacher for her than the traditional experience of art school.

To learn more about Oaklee and her work, you can visit her website or Instagram. Make sure to swing by Bend Gallery to check out “I Am Hers, and She Is Mine,” or come in to Light Gallery + Studio to see more of her work in person.

“I Am Hers, and She Is Mine”
Bend Gallery
40 Division Avenue South
Open for viewing through the month of March by appointment.

All images courtesy of Oaklee Thiele.