Anglers on the Red Cedar River know how to use worms and grubs to lure in their catch. A local nonprofit, however, is hoping to hook prospective environmentalists — and using art as the bait.
“Our first project is to place fine art outdoors in areas of environmental restoration, and to use that attraction to educate people,” said Melody Angel, committee chairwoman for Art in the Wild, a subgroup of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. “Our mission is to use art and human imagination to promote environmental awareness in areas of environmental reclamation.”
The most important step, Angel explained, is making people aware of local environmental concerns.
“The only way that pollution is going to be altered is if we educate people,” she said. “But how do we educate people on water and wetlands? Not everyone is going to take a walk in the swamp.”
Art in the Wild aims to mix the natural and the man-made, making undeveloped spaces more accessible to urban dwellers with trails and outdoor art installations.
The group hosts a holiday fundraiser party for the project Thursday at the Broad Art Museum. The evening includes locally-sourced snacks and live entertainment from the Springtails, a folk- and swing-inspired duo comprising husband and wife Andy and Julianna Wilson. Attendees are encouraged to dress in 1920s period clothing or formal wear. Visitors can also enjoy the Broad’s first-floor galleries after 6 p.m. This is the third fundraiser the group has held and another is slated for the summer.
The group’s first target is Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann’s ambitious Montgomery Drain project, located near Frandor Shopping Center and including Ranney Park. The group is working with Lindemann to place several large-scale works of art in the area to complement an art-driven restructuring of the drain’s service area. The revamped drain system will allow for better filtration of runoff rainwater. Near the art, informational displays will explain how the site reduces water pollutants, as well tips for readers on how to lessen their own contributions to water contamination.
One of the more ambitious art installations involves a wall of fountains that will expel water once it has gone through the new water filtration system. Organizers hope to include 800 sculpted spouts, and for a price, anyone can become part of the art.
“We’re going to make it possible for people to have their image in the piece,” said Angel. “Using a 3D camera, an image of their face can be made as a water spout.”
Donors who contribute $3,000 can be included in the wall, but Angel hopes to find ways to include other community members.
Other art projects planned for the site include a series of large murals that will adorn the walls of some of Frandor’s biggest buildings. The first mural, a blown-up version of a work by Michigan woodblock artist Linda Beeman, features a woman on a sunny boating adventure. Planners also hope to construct a 24-foot topiary clock, a garden based on Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” painting, solar powered kiosks that play poetry readings, an amphitheater and more.
“The project is going to make a big difference in placemaking here in Mid- Michigan,” Angel said. “This is going to be something vibrant that’s really going to affect the quality of life in the area. It’s an imaginative, crazy way to bring people together in community engagement.”
Art in the Wild Holiday Celebration
6-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Broad Art Museum
547 E. Circle Drive, East Lansing
(517) 292-3078, artinthewild.org