On campus known for it’s natural beauty, one MSU organization is making sure that beauty stays here and the MSU Surplus store is helping. Their big “Shop Everything” event gathered vendors all over campus for this holiday’s gift giving season. MSU Shadows, an organization at the event, re-purposes trees that are damaged on campus and creates chairs, oars, coasters, and all kinds of products. “We had trees that grow on campus, we loved them, people sat underneath them, there was marriage proposals underneath some of these trees, and they died,” Daniel Brown, coordinator of Wood Recovery Program, said. Normally, these dead trees would be used for mulch or as a bio fuel, but in this case, they’ll live again.
Blue rubber ducks have been popping up over Bath Township and it’s making a difference within the art community. The Blue Loop is an art installation in the backyard of Robert Park’s house in Bath, Michigan. It’s located on his wooded property, hidden behind trees full of blue recycled materials following a pathway. The city sees his property as just junk and it began with a complaint from a neighbor calling his property an “eyesore,” according to Park. “They went into my backyard, in my woods and they discovered my recycled blue plastic, which they had no concept of it being an art material, so right away their mind goes to well that’s just or trash,” he said.
Tucked into one of Williamston’s neighborhoods, the Monette house greets you with a large chalk drawing on the driveway and a wall of paint tubes in the garage. Barbara and Dean Monette said they have always loved children, whether it be teaching or simply helping the neighbor kids with painting which started with their own children. To channel that love, the couple created The Monette Children’s Enrichment Fund. The fund became an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit about a year ago but the Monette’s have been raising money for about four years. The fund is for promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programs in local schools as well as in Haiti.
Williamston has all the markings of an American small town: historic buildings comprising its downtown section, local family owned restaurants, a bridal shop, a glass blowing studio and the local hardware store. Nestled above the affairs of the main Williamston strip on Grand River is a somewhat unknown plaza that even local Williamston residents may pass by: Keller’s Plaza, home to “Williamston’s hidden gem” as nearly all of the Plaza’s shop owners called their little hideaway. Keller’s Plaza is home to a small candle shop Mud Country Candles, a small party store, a glass engravings shop called the Glass Fox, a dance studio, and Peculiar Perspective’s. Matt Mulford runs Peculiar Perspectives, a studio and art gallery at the top of the landing on the second floor of the plaza, along with Tony Steele. Mulford and Steele’s friendship and passion for art goes back years Mulford says.
Going back to its roots, Williamston had its first inaugural Alleyfest which included musicians, artists and glassblowers, creating an old-fashioned festival reminiscent of the antique shops littering Williamston’s main drag. The festival was spearheaded by founder Will Long and his partner and co-founder, Matt Mulford. This was a way that Williamston could bring back its brick-and-mortar history. Williamston is known for its antique shops, however, the downtown area now has four vacant buildings and residents are becoming worried Long said. “It’s great for all of our businesses that are downtown and it gives our residents that live in town, something to do,” Tammy Gilroy, Williamston mayor, said.
An art museum has made it’s way onto Grand River, but it’s not your typical one-stop shop. The Art Lab is a creative and collaborative art museum, where people can be involved hands-on or just visit the art pieces. Located directly across the Broad Art Museum, students and community members can join studio sessions to learn how to create things. “We are a space that has gallery, as well as studio space where you can engage in hands-on activities where you can make a little bit of your own art, we also have lots of social space, a store, we hope to see both visitors from the campus and the community.” Director of Education at Broad Art Museum, Michelle Word said.
With the frigid temperatures and snow-covered streets, one might step inside Williamston’s Fireworks Glass Studios out of curiosity, or to warm up. When they first walk inside, they will still feel the cold wind outside because the studio leaves the front door propped open. When they walk deeper into the studio, the temperature increases and they might even break a sweat. Lining the counter are dozens of hand-crafted glass art. Behind the counter are the people and machines that make them.
“It is magic … that idea of women supporting women and having a sacred, safe spiritual place to do that.”
Organized religion isn’t doing it for millennials these days. The Pew Research Center shows a continuous decline in the number of religiously affiliated Americans. This is especially so for those in the millennial generation. At the same time, other studies note that skepticism about astrology, the study of how the positions of stars and planets influence human behavior, is decreasing among Americans. For a number of reasons, traditional religious faith is being pushed aside by young people in favor of alternative belief systems – including astrology – which can also serve as a guiding or healing force in one’s life.
In 2007, Williamston was introduced to an uncommon kind of art. Fireworks Glass Studios brought the craft of original and customizable glass sculpting to the community, along with love and compassion for its neighbors. Owner, Dave Porter, opened his studio in 2007, getting into the glass blowing business just after retirement. The studio creates various pieces every day, ranging from seasonal glass such as Christmas ornaments and glass pumpkin pieces, to everyday home objects like vases and wall mountings. “I love this job because it’s so much different than the normal office job,” employee Doug Waggott said.