Celebrating the Women of the Art Park — a mini series

Michigan Legacy Art Park’s beautiful two miles of trails are home to sculptures by some of our state’s finest artists, with thirty acres of woods preserved by dedicated volunteers who have spent decades growing this special place. Many of them, we’re happy to say, are women.

It’s easy to consider their artworks as celebrations in themselves — of people finding their voices, discovering history, experiencing the wisdom of nature, and finding the fortitude to endure and fight against injustices across time — and we hope the landscape the park offers can become a platform for many new women to share their talents in the future.


Women’s History Month | 03.16.2021

It’s sadly the last day in our short mini series as we face the reality that we’ve only been able to find the work of fifteen women sculptors in the history of our Permanent Collection and rotating galleries.

We aspire to change that.

We are, and always will be, enormously proud of all our artists, if you’ve been following along you’ve now seen the creativity and strength of new voices — enriching and expanding our understanding of the world and representing themselves.

While our esteemed Board of Directors is 75% women, of the 51 works making up our Permanent Collection, here are the current statistics:

81% Men

19% Women

How you can help us:

  • Please spread the news of our Charles McGee Artist Residency for emerging sculptors and artists who live in the Detroit area to come to northern Michigan to create and work — the application is free and open until March 31, 2021. The more women that apply, the bigger our network becomes to share these kinds of opportunities for support in the future.
  • Give a gift to the Art Park’s Collection Fund and add a note to request that it supports only the commission or acquisition of works by women. We’ll happily honor that and your donation will be restricted to that cause.
  • Support women artists by purchasing their work, engage with them on social media, attending their shows and exhibits, and promoting them to galleries, curators and museums you love. Request more representation in any comments or feedback you can provide. Start scrolling below for a top-notch list of artists to start following— and next year during #WomensHistoryMonth check back to make sure we’re making progress.

Day №15 — Lois Teicher, Artist and Mentor

Women’s History Month | 03.15.2021 | Legacy Award Honoree

Lois Teicher has been working as a distinguished sculptor for decades. Over the years she has been featured in hundreds of exhibitions, including the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham, Michigan, a retrospective at the Saginaw Art Museum, and a one woman show at the Dennos Museum Center, with works in the collections of both institutions.

The Scarab Club in Detroit honored Teicher in 2019 with their exhibition, “Lois Teicher: Woman of Steel.” The collection juxtaposed early and recent work in a retrospective look at one of Michigan’s most prolific and groundbreaking artists.

Teicher has lived and worked in Detroit her entire life and is well known for her large-scale steel sculptures, including Curved Form with Rectangle and Space (2000), installed in Hudson Art Park, Bonnet (1999), permanently installed in the Michigan Legacy Art Park, Bag (2011) in Kansas City, Missouri, and Paper Airplane Series in Bishop Airport, Flint. In addition, her work is beloved in numerous private and public collections.

In 2008, she was awarded the Michigan Artist Lifetime Achievement Award from The Governor’s Awards for Arts & Culture, produced by ArtServe Michigan. She graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the College for Creative Studies, and from Wayne State University in 1981 with a master’s degree in fine arts.

“I experience inspiration as a larger creative force coming through me, from a felt sense of universal energy. As an artist, I believe I was meant to express this energy in visual form, hoping that the viewer would notice, reflect upon, become aware of, and share the experience.” — Lois Teicher

Art Park Connections:

The park is excited to announce that Lois Teicher is our 2021 Legacy Award Honoree, and will be saluted in a live-event at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa on Friday August 6th, 2021. For tickets and information, please email info@michlegacyartpark.org or call 231–378–4963

When Art Park founder David Barr approached Teicher for ideas on artworks she might create for the park in the earliest days, she instantly told him whatever she created would salute women (who up until that point had no works in the park’s Permanent Collection).

Working tirelessly onsite in 1998 to create the large format art using a custom set of scaffolding and lugging the heavy Ferro-cement in by hand, the project was so treacherous, Teicher even broke her foot tripping over tree roots surrounding the sculpture. And yet, as she always does, she persevered and finished the installation (almost entirely on her own).

Now, over twenty-years later the strong upright bonnet with its flowing tendrils or ties, is still a standing symbol of the spirit and history of pioneer and Native women who braved wilderness forests, primitive living conditions, and gender oppression to forge new lives in Michigan.

To visit Teicher’s work “Bonnet” in person, follow the park’s lower Ridge Trail and you can see glimpses of it on the approach in either direction — waiting to share a story of the past, and some hope for the future.

The Art Park is open every day of the year, from dawn to dusk.

Day №14 — Amy Reckley, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.14.2021

Amy Reckley is a multidisciplinary artist working in drawing, painting, screen printing and installation art. Her work embodies the investigation and process of building up and tearing down any surface or structure. This leads to an inquiry into the language of contemporary drawing and painting. Often on the cusp between representational and abstract, Reckley references architecture and landscape as a way of placing both time and experience on a single plane.

Reckley has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. She has recently installed site-related works in the Big Santa Anita Canyon, California and at The Symphony in the Foothills Gallery in Kansas. Other significant exhibitions include The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, the Loveland Feed and Grain in Colorado and the Saugatuck Center for the Arts in Michigan. Her residency awards include the Barstow Artist-in-Residence at Central Michigan University, ART342 and Ox-Bow Summer School of Art and Artists’ Residency.

Reckley received her MFA in Drawing from Colorado State University, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from SACI College of Art & Design in Florence, Italy, and a BA from Kalamazoo College. She currently lives and works in West Michigan.

Art Park Connection:

Adventurous guests will discover a new and fascinating project by artist Amy Reckley, hidden amongst the trees within the thirty-acres and two-miles of trails at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, Michigan.

“Slip.Shift” is a new four-part experimental and temporary installation of paintings that will change seasonally from October 2020 to the summer of 2021.

Shift speaks to the color and mark making in these abstract paintings, their relationship to the environment as it changes throughout the year, and the references to past movements in the history of painting. The paintings are intended to appear and disappear, blend in and clash, feel harmonious and foreign. They are both a secret and a realization within the surrounding landscape.

Slip refers to the slippage that occurs when the visual language and expectations of painting change once the works become three dimensional in their presence and attitude. In some ways the paintings become sculptures, architecture and forms in space.

“As I was installing the first three paintings on October 10, it was interesting how the labor of art and the physical effort involved in the installation became so much a part of the entire work. Dragging the paintings across the floor of the wooded landscape felt performative, sometimes wrong and exhilarating all at the same time.

The work is not just the paintings — it is the slope of the landscape, the changing light, the natural preserve and the viewer’s discovery as they walk on the trails.”Amy Reckley

“Slip.Shift” is one of five new works from five “downstate” Michigan artists that will be installed over the next year as part of an invitational show curated by the park’s Conservator, Brian Ferriby. The project is supported by the new Charles McGee Art Fund, designed to bring new and emerging voices to northern Michigan.

Day №13 — Michelle Schulte, Artist and Educator

Women’s History Month | 03.13.2021

Believing that anything is possible is a mantra that has motivated Michelle Schulte in every aspect of her life. She knows there is more than one way to accomplish anything and prefers the role of facilitator or coach versus traditional teacher. Schulte is of mixed ancestry and member of Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas. She is a life-long learner having earned degrees in education, sports, and Anishinaabe language (AAS, BS, BA, & MA).

She develops community programs from inception to implementation to evaluation. Her efforts as a Project Director at Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan include work with Tribal Communities in Michigan to increase collective impact in early childhood systems and food access requiring strong communication and awareness.

Art Park Connection:

During the summers of 1996 to 1999, Art Park founder David Barr created a massive art installation “Stockade Labyrinth” — an experiential learning tool for exploring Michigan’s early colonial history and conflicts. “Stockade Labyrinth” looks like a fort, and clearly represents the European point of view. David tried to balance this piece out with his own interpretation of Native and Indigenous history and had boulders and totems installed at the top of a hill and called it “Shadow Stone Circle.” Years later, he lamented his own failure and reiterated his hope that someday someone would reinvent this work.

On October 8th 2018, local northern Michigan artist and educator, Michelle Schulte (Ojibwe), led a workshop with students from Suttons Bay High School, Michigan to redesign and reinterpret “Shadow Stone Circle” — their work together included rearranging the layout of boulders and stones to better represent Anishinaabe culture, representing the Medicine Wheel through four stages of the sunrise at the bottom of each post, and adding Tribal flag logos and clan symbols for each of the 12 Federally Recognized Tribes in Michigan.

The students learned about the history and meaning of the Medicine Wheel teachings, the Anishinaabe migration history, and the story of the Seven Grandfathers which is represented by the boulder paintings and their arrangement around the pillars. The work seen at the Art Park today represents their expressions about history and identity.

Michigan Legacy Art Park recognizes and honors the Anishinaabe people on whose ancestral lands the park resides, ceded in the Washington Treaty of 1836. The Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples’ histories and traditions must always be protected and celebrated. By taking a moment in recognition of their traditional lands each time we enter the park, we can all affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences — and express gratitude and appreciation to the Anishinaabe people for the gifts of their culture to the world.

Day №12 — Maureen Bergquist Gray, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.12.2021

Maureen Berquist Gray received her degree from Northern Michigan University in furniture design and construction with a sculpture minor. Her sculpting material had been limestone, until she decided to enter outdoor sculpture shows and the weight of limestone was so prohibitive she began working in steel. Her work can be seen in Chicago, Indianapolis, Kenosha & Appleton, Wisconsin and Palm Springs, California.

She lives and creates in Maple City, Michigan on a working farm.

Art Park Connection:

Gray’s sculpture is one of the most recent additions to the permanent collection. Representing a vision for how individuals can make great impacts on their surroundings, “Sister” stands alone yet constantly impacted by weather, seasons, and the people she meets in the woods. Three steel rods in the front represent the artist and her two sisters: independent women standing next to each other in solidarity and support, shaping each other’s lives, and making them the people they are today.

“The sculpture in my mind is a female figure … strong, connected to her surroundings and yet quiet and Zen like, which allows the viewer an intimate experience of exchanging energy.

Until recently, color was seldom part of my artistic vocabulary when conceiving sculptures. Instead I focused on form and composition. Sculptures were just left to rust to a fine patina; like the old weathered parts I sought. Now, frequently I use color to bring life and animation to my sculptures and to add tension and definition to the forms.” — Maureen Bergquist Gray, 2017

Day №11 — Cozette Phillips, Artist and Metalhead

Women’s History Month | 03.11.2021

Cozette Phillips is an interdisciplinary sculptor and metalsmith working out of Pasco, Washington. In 1998, she earned a BFA in Sculpture and Illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. After completing her BFA, Phillips sought to improve her skills as an artist and metalsmith, so in the early 2000s, she took jewelry and metals classes at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. She went on to earn an MFA in Metals from State University of New York, New Paltz.

After graduate school, Phillips completed several artist residencies, traveled studying and teaching, and works as an Associate Professor of Art at Columbia Basin College, where she currently teaches Sculpture, Design, and Art Appreciation. She is also the Co-Director of CBC’s Esvelt Gallery.

Art Park Connections:

Phillips’ sculpture “Monument to the innate and acquired presence of place”, was added to our entrance gallery in 2010. Made of aluminum, concrete, pewter and steel this artwork is a representation of elements within our environment, offer both visual and physical reminders of our connection with nature.

“Monument to the innate and acquired presence of place” by artist Cozette Phillips | Michigan Legacy Art Park

“It’s both fixed and ephemeral; cast metal tree bark from a Michigan White Pine encases bands of concrete, aluminum, and steel, which represent the cross-section of a tree. With the passage of time and exposure to the elements, the steel bands will rust and impregnate the concrete within the sculpture. Just as the rings of a living tree mark time, record and give physicality to a memory, my monument to nature will do the same.

By combining both man-made and natural elements within my work, I hope to highlight the fact that we are not separate from nature, but are in fact part of it. We have the power to impact, preserve and protect our surroundings.” — Cozette Phillips, 2010

Phillips also created one of the park’s unique Art Benches — a bright blue design anchored at each end with chalkboard easels. “I hope it will provoke creativity and offer a place to record observations of nature and the art that the park offers,” said Phillips.

Day №10 — Kathyrose Pizzo, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.10.2021

Kathyrose Pizzo is a visual artist based in metro Detroit, whose practice is invested in a tradition of public sculpture. Through her work she explores containment, sickness, death, and passages of time and space. Born in Detroit, Pizzo completed her MFA in Art from Wayne State University and earned a BFA with a focus in painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pizzo exhibits and lectures nationally and her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Marshall Fredricks Museum, The Dishman Museum, Lawrence University, Simpson College, Minot State University, among others.

She has received awards and grants from Simpson College, Professional Development Travel Grant PT faculty, Wayne State University, City of Novi Sculpture Exhibit, Honoree Michigan Legacy Art Park, Lois Ann Reed Purchase Award Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Honoree Sterling Scapes Award respectively.

Pizzo has taught at intuitions such as Oakland and Macomb community college, currently she teaches in sculpture and core areas of the art department at Wayne State University.

Art Park Connections:

Pizzo’s sculpture “Lake, Cloud, Sky” was a two year installation in our entrance gallery, starting in 2016. She’s also been a longtime member of our Collection Committee, which oversees the park’s permanent portfolio of over fifty works, artist residency projects, and a program of Poetry Stones.

“Being from Michigan and surrounded by the Great Lakes affords me nothing short of inspiration. ‘Lake, Cloud, Sky’ is directly related to my experience of spending many summers around Sleeping Bear Dunes and looking out at the sky above Lake Michigan while watching the clouds float on by.

I consider my sculpture a landscape; a gestural linear abstraction. Its composition is dynamic, full of energy marked with blue lines that delineate space. The linear components are made of steel, and the larger organic planes are cast aluminum for the clouds. I chose aluminum because it can have a reflective surface quality, and I also used it for its metaphoric cliché term every cloud has a silver lining.” — Kathyrose Pizzo, 2016

Day №9 — Lois Beardslee, Artist and Author

Women’s History Month | 03.09.2021

Lois Beardslee (Ojibwe/Lacand — n) has been a teacher, writer, and storyteller for over twenty-five years. She is also an accomplished artist, whose works are in public and private collections worldwide. She practices many traditional art forms, including birch bark biting, quillwork, and sweetgrass basketry, as well as painting and illustration.

She is the award winning author of Words Like Thunder, Lies to Live By, Rachel’s Children: Stories from a Contemporary Native American Woman, and Not Far Away: The Real Life Adventures of Ima Pipiig, among others. Beardslee lives in Michigan where she continues to practice rare traditional art forms, including quillwork and sweet grass basketry.

Art Park Connection:

The first installations of art in the park were a mixture of pre-existing pieces of sculpture and a few site-specific works created by artists to help get the collection going. Beardslee’s work “Clan Symbols” was generously among them in 1995.

These four-way mirror animal image paintings on trees are reminiscent of images originally made by Native and Indigenous traditions cutting and folding birch bark. Floating above the Art Park trails, these images created their own enigmatic visions and remind us of the origins of this special place — long after this artwork faded away.

Michigan Legacy Art Park recognizes and honors the Anishinaabe people on whose ancestral lands the park resides, ceded in the Washington Treaty of 1836. The Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples’ histories and traditions must always be protected and celebrated. By taking a moment in recognition of their traditional lands each time we enter the park, we can all affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences — and express gratitude and appreciation to the Anishinaabe people for the gifts of their culture to the world.

Day №8 — Patricia Innis, Artist and Educator

Women’s History Month | 03.08.2021 | International Women’s Day

Working as an Art Park volunteer since 2001 and joining the staff in 2014, Innis has established collaborative relationships with schools throughout northwest lower- Michigan, leading workshops and week-long residencies and organizing field trips to the Art Park. Innis is an environmental artist and painter who has exhibited her paintings and participated in environmental art projects throughout the Midwest. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Bowling Green State University and Master of Fine Arts degree from Maharishi International University. Her work is included in the public collections of Bowling Green State University, Northwestern University, Central Iowa Airport, Michigan Legacy Art Park and the ArtRapids! Walk of Art. She has also provided illustrations in Embroidered Horizons, a poetry anthology, and in The History of the Pioneer Picnic.

Most recently she created and curates the “Stay Safe” Masks Project, a public art collaborative uniting community and reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine on our lives and experiences. Hundreds of masks from around the world have been contributed in this growing and moving project.

Art Park Connections:

Innis’ work has been featured in the park’s permanent collection for many years and she currently has four sculptures on display.


An environmental art installation that draws attention to bird migration and the impact the American robin has had on our culture. The installation consists of three earth-mound sculptures featuring robins and a bird’s nest containing three eggs. Formed to scale, the robins have a 14-foot wingspan, are nine feet in length and two feet in height. The mounds capture the birds in various stages of flight as they head slightly uphill toward the nest. Each are planted with shady grass seed, creating a habitat for live robins.

Hemingway Haunts

Painted with natural dyes, these five figures depict Hemingway as Nick Adams the young man; Nick Adams the child; Gregoria Fuentes, the captain of Hemingway’s boat the “Pilar” (representative of the hero in the “Old Man and the Sea”); and two characters Robert Jordan (modeled after the actor Gary Cooper) and Maria (modeled after the actress Ingrid Bergman) from the movie version of the book “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

Serpent Mound

In 2002 Innis completed the installation of a 120 foot Serpent Mound. The Serpent winds its way through the woods and has an open mouth about to swallow an egg. The Serpent is 2–3 feet in height and 5–6 feet at the base. Both the serpent and the egg are made of sand covered with a layer of top soil and mulch. Sweet Woodruff ground cover blankets the serpent while moss grows on the egg.

The serpent references the ancient mound building people who came from the Mississippi River Valley. As the Odawa migrated into what is now Michigan, their legends tell of finding the Yam-Ko-Desh, or Prairie People, and the many mounds and small animal sculptures they left behind testify to their existence in the state.

Logging Camp

Originally created as a series of ephemeral works commemorating the men who worked in the camps during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the artist’s grandfather was among those that participated in Michigan’s “timber rush,” harvesting millions of trees from virgin forests.

The original images were intended to be temporary. During each season, beginning in fall 1999 and continuing through the summer of 2000, Innis created silhouette-like images on trees throughout the park, the images were selected from family photos and placed on trees using natural materials of the season including snow, fallen leaves and dye she prepared herself from berries and bark.

Art Park Educational Programs and Field Trips

Innis leads the park’s year-round educational programs, including field trips for thousands of Michigan students each year, who experience the park and gain valuable learning in the arts and sciences.

Day №7 — Naomi R. DeHart, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.07.2021

Naomi R. DeHart was born in 1987, and created her sculpture for the Art Park when she was still a student at Interlochen Arts Academy in 2005. Made of metal and larger than life, the artist’s simple hunter’s trap seems almost ready to strike. DeHart constructed the artwork in two short weeks, with all funding provided by the Visual Art Department of Interlochen.

“The Trap” increases awareness of the prominent role that fur trading and trapping has played in Michigan’s history while provoking contemplation about morality and our relationship with other species. The fur trade was responsible for much of the exploration and development of North America, especially Michigan. In 1701 the explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded the city of Detroit, which became a major fur trading post of its time.

PS — we don’t know where the artist is today, if anyone has any details please contact info@michlegacyartpark.org and we’d love to be in touch! Thanks.

Day №6 — Pam Ayres, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.06.2021

Pam Ayres is a professional visual artist who currently teaches at St. John’s Country Day School in Orange Park, Florida. In her five plus years of teaching at St. John’s, she has built up the high school art program to include an AP track in visual arts.

Ayres received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Sculpture with a minor in Painting, and her Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture, Installation and Performance Art from Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus in Brookville, New York.

Art Park Connection:

Made with natural wood and cloth and installed at the park in 2017, Ayres’ ephemeral artwork “Shades of Some Distant Journey,” designed to be temporary, was damaged by a thunderstorm and finally removed in 2020.

Influenced by the concept of phantom ships passing in the night, representing the lost boats of the Great Lakes, Ayres set out to make these new forms as a reflection of these memories and ghosts of the past.

The materials for “Shades of Some Distant Journey” are taken from what was readily available, including fallen trees and even elements from past installations. Ayres envisioned the lines of the work seen in the ambiguous surroundings of the moonlight, the fog, and the winter, as well as being complemented by the foliage during the bright sunlight of the summer and fall months.

“I have a book I carry around with me from place to place titled Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes by Dwight Boyer,” said Ayers. “In the forward he includes a poem by Lyle A. Meyers Sr. that I like to read, about lost boats of the Great Lakes called ‘Phantom Ships that Pass in the Night.’ The imagery in this poem helped me visualize this work as a symbol of time passing and memories relived. The decision to paint the work was rooted in my desire to bring the lines away from the surroundings in the different seasons and at different times of the day.”

Views of “Shades of Some Distant Journey” (2017–2020) by artist Pam Ayres | Michigan Legacy Art Park

Day №5 — Caroline Courth, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.05.2021

“Originally I come from the history, traditions, materials and practices of the ceramic arts but in these quickly evolving times, and after much arduous consideration and tentative steps, I have come to embrace a wide range of materials as I search for materials, techniques and approaches with which I can explore the basics of site-specific art.”

Detail of “Complements” by artist Caroline Courth | Michigan Legacy Art Park

Caroline Courth (aka Caroline Court aka Caroline Blessing Browne Court) is a longtime practitioner of the visual arts. She has installations at the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit Zoological Institute and several Detroit schools. She has taught students of all ages in several public and private school settings in southeast lower Michigan. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University and her Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Her influences include the stonework of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, the sculptures and vision of Nek Chand of India and Antoni Gaudi of Barcelona, as well as the writings of Virginia Satir.

Art Park Connection:

In concert with three schools in 2003 — Brethren School in Manistee County and Edmondson School and YouthBuild in Detroit — Courth conceptualized, fabricated and installed a sculptural bench, “Complements Hands Hearts Cars Carts,” which appears to be a large wheel rising from the ground. The classic relationship between the natural world and mineral resources of the Upper Peninsula and the manufacturing prowess of southeastern Michigan are symbolized in the materials, colors, and geometrical forms used in the project.

Day №4 — Kara James, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.04.2021

Kara James hails from Michigan, graduated from the School of The Art Institute, and is represented by Chicago Sculptors International. She makes abstracted figurative narratives in public and private scale focusing on longevity in wood, stone, metals, message, and in public consumption and digestion.

Some of her most fascinating works are created with no precise plan, but instead by working with dead trees who reveal shapes and ideas to James as she works (like a stone carver to peel back and reveal something embedded within the materials themselves). James used this technique in 2014 in Lincoln Park and 2016 in Olympia Park for The Chicago Tree Project.

Art Park Connection:

In 2020, James was selected to install a new temporary work into the park for two years. “Handmade Revolution (2005) was inspired by the anti-consumerist, handmade movement that has been gaining momentum since not long before the sculpture was created. At the turn of the century, some green fringe notions became a direction for some parts of society to instigate a revaluation nationwide of traditional ideas, including personal responsibility and accomplishment. The role of manufactured goods and the homogenization of the cultural economy became suspect, and with a lack of trust or money to continually reinvest in corporate production, and lack of alternative, people began to make things for themselves.”

“As sure as the Sears Catalogue affected generations, and then the the mall, now we have Etsy, and other platforms for work made by hand. The shape of ‘Handmade Revolution’ was pieced together with scraps from the recycle bin and pounds of weld. The sculpture was made to champion the individual and the work that is made by hand, and to herald the efforts of artists and artisans for making it real, and for those that are still trying.” — Kara James

“Handmade Revolution” is one of five new works from “Downstate” Michigan artists that will be installed over the next year. The project is supported by the new Charles McGee Art Fund, designed to bring new and emerging voices to our collection. The park is open every day of the year, from dawn to dusk. Suggested admission is $5 for adults, and children are always free.

Day №3 — Theresa Smith, Artist and Iron Enthusiast

Women’s History Month | 03.03.2021

Theresa Smith’s passion for iron casting and dedication to the process was ignited in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, beginning a twenty-two year exploration of the material and process that has taken her to live and work in locations around the Midwest, New Orleans, Great Britain, Wales and New York. Now, Smith works primarily in cast metal and clay and draws on nature, in particular plant life, for inspiration from the smallest seeds to the tallest trees.

Additionally, she has developed and taught children’s summer arts programs and community art projects in New York, Minnesota, and Michigan. In 2016, Smith was a visiting artist at the Interlochen Arts Academy where she coordinated and led a school-wide iron pour. Born in Petoskey, Smith currently lives and works in Marquette, Michigan.

Art Park Connection:

Smith’s artist residency at the Art Park in 2017 was a demonstration of how various components of our mission can be integrated into a single program. Her six weeks not only included the opportunity for the artist to create, but also an incredible education experience and a community event.

After working to create over 150 “scratch block” molds, Smith visited five area high school art classes to give local workshops, including Brethren, Frankfort, Kingsley, Mesick and the Leelanau School. She was able to teach the students about the iron casting process, its history (dating back centuries for both art and industry) and the science behind it.

The students used simple, small tools to scratch their own designs into the sand scratch molds — which led up to a public “iron pour” event at Crystal Mountain where the community came to see this dynamic process in action.

To bring the program into full circle, all the students who participated in Smith’s workshops were able to attend the event that day to witness their own scratch blocks being poured with the molten iron.

Day №2 — Sandra Osip, Artist

Women’s History Month | 03.02.2021

“I am a Michigan-born sculptor and the body of my work is a reflection of the times in which we live. We are currently experiencing uncertainty, if not downright chaos, and I believe this atmosphere is the result of the great inequities that exist in our society. In my work I seek to portray the consequences of these inequities and the resulting turmoil.”

Sandra Osip currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received a B.S. from Wayne State University and a M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art, which began her career in the Detroit area. Her art has been included in exhibitions and collections across the United States, and she has a number of awards including from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the MacDowell Fellowship.

Art Park Connections:

One of the most iconic pieces in the park’s collection is the elegant Unravel,” which Osip created in 1993 and installed at the park in 1997.

Drawing its inspiration from spiral growth forms, these naturally occurring patterns help shape objects as diverse as hurricanes and nautilus shells and galaxies. The spiral form has a strong relationship with the “Golden Mean,” the mathematical pattern observed by the 13th century mathematician Fibonacci. The segments of the this bronze metal sculpture expand from one another like the shell of an insect or a pine cone. Osip donated “Unravel” to the Art Park in memory of Mr. Phillip Fike, her metalworking professor at Wayne State University.

Her second sculpture in the collection, “Tribute to White Tailed Deer,” was created of fiberglass and resin and installed by Osip in 2003. It was later removed in 2018 after extensive damage, but our fond memories of it remain.

“Tribute to White Tailed Deer” by artist Sandra Osip (2003–2018) | Michigan Legacy Art Park

Day №1 — Rebecca Nagle, Artist and Advocate

Women’s History Month | 03.01.2021

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation living in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Rebecca Nagle identifies as a two spirit (queer) woman and is a community organizer and writer, studying the Cherokee language. She was recently named one of the National Center American Indian Enterprise Development’s Native American 40 Under 40 for her work to address violence against Native women.

One of her early projects in 2012 was a website she built with Hannah Brancato called “Pink Loves Consent.” It coincided with the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and looked like the official website, but provided information about rape education instead.

Her original writing has appeared in Bitch Media, The Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, ThinkProgress, Indian Country Today and her advocacy work has been recognized by outlets NBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, NPR, Indian Country Today, USA Today, Teen Vogue and The Huffington Post. She is currently hosting the investigative podcast “This Land” which she also produces.

Art Park Connection:

Made of concrete and created in 2003, “Inside a Historical Mystery: Mounds” was Nagle’s first public piece of art, who at the time was a senior sculpture student at nearby Interlochen Arts Academy. Seeking to educate, the piece raised awareness of the pressing destruction of Native and Indigenous burial grounds across Michigan. At the time it was made, over 600 mounds were left to be explored and tragically over 500 had already been destroyed.

Michigan Legacy Art Park recognizes and honors the Anishinaabe people on whose ancestral lands the park resides, ceded in the Washington Treaty of 1836. The Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples’ histories and traditions must always be protected and celebrated. By taking a moment in recognition of their traditional lands each time we enter the park, we can all affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences — and express gratitude and appreciation to the Anishinaabe people for the gifts of their culture to the world.

Blog series curated and designed by Joseph Beyer, Executive Director Michigan Legacy Art Park | March 2021

Where Art, Nature and History Meet

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