Carrying the torch
|By Jessica Carreras|
New and seasoned artists converge at East Lansing Art FestivalThe East Lansing Art Festival has come full circle.
In 1964, as an answer to street fairs taking place in Ann Arbor, a Michigan State University advertising student began a similar event that allowed art students to exhibit and sell their work. Now in its 47th year, the festival — taking place May 22 and 23 – includes over 200 established artists from across North America, who were chosen by a rigorous jury process.
But it hasn’t lost sight of its roots.
“In recent years, we’ve been focusing on the next generation of artists,” explains festival coordinator Corinn VanWyck. “We have a children’s area that has a lot of handson arts activities, then we have the Doug Delinds raku wood sculpture "Face." Matt Epling middle school arts competition, and then the Emerging Artists program. We have the marketplace of exhibitors selling artwork, but it’s an exhibition as well.”
And for the lucky students chosen for the Emerging Artists program, it’s a chance to get a head start in the difficult industry or professional artistry.
Five students were chosen after sub mitting samples of their work and an artist statement. VanWyck explains that the whole purpose is to take away the somewhat intimidating logistics of costly entry fees or setting up a booth.
“The Emerging Artists program takes away a lot of the pressure for them because they don’t have to make that big investment,” she adds, “not knowing what to expect or knowing if they’re going to make that money back.”
For Becca Sclaff, it is a dream come true. The 28-year-old MSU graduate just completed her master of art education degree this month and is exhibiting to the public for the first time ever at the festival.
“I have always dreamt of showing my work to the public,” Schlaff says. “Ive always admired all the artists that participate in festivals and shows, I just never knew how to get my foot in the door.”
Doug Delind, a sculptor from Mason, has been part of the East Lansing Art Festival for 35 years. Now 62, he began selling his art while still in school at MSU, in the time when students still ruled the scene.
A lot has changed since then, Delind says, but he’s happy to see a new generation of artists taking the reins — and learning what a taxing event an art festival can be for exhibitors.
“If somebody’s studying art in college and they think they’re going to make a living out of it, they’ve gotta get out on the street and find out how hard it is,” he says. “It’s incredibly hard.”But worth it, he adds, for the personal interactions he has with the people who purchase and love his art.
And to continue the tradition of professional artistry.
“I’d getting old,” he admits with a laugh. “I’d
But for artists like Sclaff, it’s just the beginning.