World Art Project Under Way in U.P.

Residents from four Upper Peninsula regions are working to create and decorate large-scale, inflatable air structures depicting the uniqueness of the areas in which they live.

The four individual projects, which began taking shape at regional art workshops earlier this summer, will converge for a "grand finale" display Aug. 18 and 19 at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba (at left is a concept illustration of the final product).

The pARTners: World Peace Art Initiative is funded through a grant awarded by the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies and administered by Northern Michigan University. Its goal is to bring together people of different backgrounds, interests and talents.


"This idea is reflected very well in the theme of the project, which is 'The Oneness of Humankind: Unity through Diversity,'" said Dick Ross of Ishpeming, an NMU alumnus and retired educator who is serving as an artist in residence for the program. "Each structure will uniquely acknowledge diversity, address creative learning and problem solving, and illustrate the value of a collective thought process. This is a world-class project and I'm absolutely thrilled that a cross-section of Upper Peninsula residents have had an opportunity to get involved."


The four U.P. geographic divisions identified for purposes of the grant are as follows: the northern region, which covers Marquette County; the southern region, consisting of Delta and Menominee Counties; the eastern region, which includes Mackinac and Chippewa Counties; and the western region, comprised of Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon, Gogebic and Keweenaw Counties.


Ross and Lou Rizzolo, a Western Michigan University professor, led the regional workshops.


"This project will leave with participants and viewers a memorable example of how the collaborative creative spirits of many can nurture significant changes toward peace-filled ways to relate and work together," Rizzolo said. "Together participants can create symbolic and meaningful large scale inspiring art works. Some selected selfscapes and domes will be integrated into World Peace Art Initiatives in two cities: Tirana, Albania, where Serbian, Bosnian and Albanian youth are working together to reconcile the past; and in Kerala, India, to honor the tsunami victims."


Similar large-scale, environmental artworks have been installed in Australia, China, Italy and Norway, as well as other locations in the United States.


Each U.P. region was expected to make the following air-inflated structures: a dome about 25 feet in diameter; a cylinder 100 feet long and 18 feet in diameter; four helium-filled tubes of 18-inch diameter, each of which spans 200 feet; and one section of another dome. When the latter is joined with the other regional sections at the U.P. State Fair, "the four directions will reflect humankind and our relationship with Mother Earth."

Partners in the World Peace Art Initiative are: Michigan State University Extension offices and 4-H organizations in Chippewa, Mackinac, Delta, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Baraga Counties; the Alberta House; Boniface Fine Arts Center; Copper Country Community Arts Council; Sault Area Arts Council; Eagle Condor Institute; Ojibwa Culture Center; the U.P. Children's Museum; Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy; the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce; the Downtown Developmental Authority of Sault Ste. Marie; and Starr Commonwealth.


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Updated: October 26, 2005

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