I was first intrigued by The Beerhorst Family, a.k.a. studiobeerhorst, when I stumbled upon images of their eye-catching Wonder Wagon. An Amish-buggy-turned-mobile-art-show, the Wagon was originally designed as an installation piece for Michigan’s art fest, Art Prize. This folksy ride now parks itself in the Beerhorsts’ driveway and continues to befuddle and delight their neighbors in downtown Grand Rapids.
Wherever Rick and Brenda Beerhorst go with their six kids, they inspire curiosity. Are they part of a circus? Hippies? A cult? The Beerhorsts make their living creating art and spend all of their time together at the Beerhorst compound. The children, ages 6 to 19, subscribe to “un-schooling,” a structure-less approach to homeschooling that does not focus on formal classes, textbooks or tests. The kids are encouraged to follow whatever interests them: beekeeping, homemade video game cabinets, and hand-drawn comic books currently make up their curriculum. To some, the hands-off approach to education can seem reckless, to others, it’s pure inspiration. The Beerhorst kids all have very different personalities, but what struck me the most was how articulate and independent all of them were — I would even say fearless.
Brenda and Rick believe that their faith in God is what keeps the family steady. Brenda told me, “Everybody has to make their own path in this life and I do think about that for our kids. There have been times when I project the future and I think, will my kids be ready? But they’ve grown up with Rick and I as examples. And they’ve seen us struggle and they’ve seen us pray together and they’ve seen things change because of that prayer.” Find out more about the Beerhorsts on Brenda’s blog and their Flickr stream.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Romy Jenkins of Grammiesquiltz winner of The Beerhorst Family Sweepstakes!
Enter The Beerhorst Family sweepstakes! Comment below to enter to win a Studiobeerhorst Girl With White Roses print. At 12 p.m. ET Wednesday, August 31, 2011 we will pick at random one commenter. (We apologize in advance that this sweepstakes is only open to U.S. folks over 18. Void where prohibited. Download a PDF of the full Rules and Regulations.)