Michigan Blue marks the third project of its kind at the park, following the success of previous installations, Pine Cone Forest and the Stay Home, Stay Safe mask art collection.
“Our community art projects began in 2020 with mask art,” says environmental artist Patricia Innis, who created Michigan Blue with support from contemporary folk artist Dewey Blocksma. “It was a way to make something meaningful out of a difficult, but shared experience.”
Michigan Blue continues that thread, redeeming a challenging event in the Art Park’s history. A devastating windstorm in 2021 left its mark, toppling trees, dropping limbs and altering the landscape of the forest park. In typical artist fashion, Innis and Blocksma saw opportunity in the aftermath. Together they mapped out a creative plan to distill beauty from these branches in a way that invited many into the creative process.
“Michigan Blue represents a remarkable collaboration that transcends boundaries, bringing individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities from across the state to contribute to a shared artistic vision,” says Angie Quinn, Executive Director at Michigan Legacy Art Park.
This ambitious collaborative project draws inspiration from the water and skies, paying homage to the elements that define our great state. The heart of the project lies in the creative transformation of 3 to 5-inch wooden “rounds,” crafted from limbs fallen in the Art Park. Each wooden round carries a piece of Michigan’s natural beauty and resilience, making this endeavor truly unique. Thousands of individuals, classrooms, and community groups—along with visitors to the Art Park itself—have contributed a painted, blue, tree round. Innis, who also serves as the Art Park Education Director, incorporated the project into the experience for students on school field trips to the park this year, giving children an opportunity to participate in the mission in a way that fosters a sense of place. The finished rounds were then assembled under Innis and Blocksma’s supervision as part of a flowing installation along the Art Park trail. The result is a river of creativity that resonates with the shared experiences of those who call Michigan home.
The public is invited to witness the inspiring Michigan Blue installation, which is now open for viewing. An official opening reception is scheduled to take place on August 24, 2023, from 4:30 to 6:00 PM at Michigan Legacy Art Park. Attendees are encouraged to don their finest shades of blue attire and enjoy blue refreshments and music in harmony with the theme of the event. Admission to the event is free.
Michigan Blue stands as a testament to the enduring power of art to transform challenges into opportunities for growth and beauty. Michigan Blue has been funded in part by the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Foundation, Michigan Arts & Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Exploring the Color Blue
- How do two different colors of blue make you feel?
- If you put the color blue next to a color like orange, does it change how you feel about it?
- How does the color blue feel to the touch? Does it have a texture?
- How might the color blue smell?
- Describe what the color blue might taste like.
- What kind of sound might the color blue make?
Besides the many, many individuals who created rounds for the project at the Art Park and other community events, participating artist from these groups contributed as part of our education programs:
- The Crawford School Kalkaska 50 round
- Children’s House Traverse City 25 rounds
- Betsie Valley Elementary
- Franklin Elementary Cadillac
- Glen Lake Community Schools Glen Lake
- Pentwater Pubic Schools
- Northport Public Schools
- Benzie Central HS SEEDS
- Fraser High School
- Brethren HS & MS.
- Kingsley High School
- Upland Hills School
- St. Mary’s Hannah
- Waterford Schools
- Traverse City West Middle School
- Benzie Central Middle School Interact Club
- Beaverton Elem. SPARKS
- Coleman Elem. SPARKS
- Brethren Elem. SEEDS
- Arts for All