The Lansing Art Gallery’s public art project Art Path is back for its biggest year yet, featuring 20 new installations along the Lansing River Trail from artists all across Michigan.
Katrina Daniels, Art Path co-creator and Lansing Art Gallery exhibition director, said the sheer amount of high-quality submissions received by the gallery marks this year as by far the most competitive in Art Path’s four-year history.
“I think that each artist chosen by our jury panel is really exceptional. The lineup is really diverse in terms of medium, messaging and where the artists come from,” Daniels said. “One of the things that is unique about this year is that we have a mix of local artists and artists from around the state.”
Much of the artwork featured by Art Path has a socially conscious message behind it. In 2018, one of the featured pieces was a sculpture of destroyed human bodies constructed out of water bottles created by Jjenna Hupp Andrews, which served as a clever visualization of the suffering endured by Flint residents throughout the city's water crisis. Several of the pieces in this year’s Art Path exhibition touch upon social issues as well, such as “Engraving,” by Nancy Joy, which addresses environmental stability.
Daniels says Art Path isn’t purposefully curated to address social issues, explaining that Art Path just has a knack for attracting multi-dimensional artists that insert deeper subtexts behind the already strong visuals of their creations.
“I think artists are amazing reflectors of what’s happening in modern times,” Daniels said.
A new mural by Isiah Lattimore, the artist behind the George Floyd mural installed in 2020, was modified after the coronavirus pandemic to feature a mask on the image of a woman laying down.
“We don’t ask for art with social conscious messages, I think it’s a marker of this point in time and artists are reacting to that,” Daniels said.
Art Path is also expanding its community outreach efforts. Throughout the summer, Lansing Art Gallery has scheduled artist talks, where attendees can meet the Art Path artists and have in-depth discussions with them, as well as workshops, where guests can actually learn neat tricks to use for their own art creations.
“These give people not only the opportunity to learn, but to engage with our artists,” Daniels said.
One of the unfortunate downfalls of running an outdoor art exhibition is the occasional jerk that decides to vandalize a sculpture. While these occurrences are thankfully not frequent, one vandal has already struck, despite this year’s Art Path debuting only one week ago. The perpetrator destroyed work created by Lansing artist Wendy Shaft.
The community responded by booking an event where volunteers could gather and help recreate and repair Shaft’s work in order for it to be reinstalled in its original form. Daniels said the event was an act of “positive resistance.”
Art Path has also increased accessibility, by making all of the artwork available in the form of a digital gallery, complete with artist statements, on the Lansing Art Gallery’s website and creating an easy to use online map, which marks all of the art installations and gives instructions on how to reach them.
“It’s been really exciting to see Arth Path grow and hear from the community that they are excited when it comes back. It feels good knowing this is becoming a tradition,” Daniels said.
Learn more and find out where to view Art Path at lansingartgallery.org/artpath.