MARQUETTE – Residents from four Upper Peninsula regions are invited to participate in the upcoming pARTners: World Peace Art Initiative. They will create and decorate large-scale, inflatable air structures depicting the uniqueness of the area in which they live. The four individual projects will be completed during regional workshops in June before they converge for a "grand finale" display at the U.P. State Fair in August.

          The initiative is funded by 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 will have 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.

          A coordinating council in each area will recruit youth, working-age adults and retirees to participate. The council will also oversee the progress of the installation and coordinate the regional workshops, which will be led by two artists in residence: Ross and Lou Rizzolo, a Western Michigan University professor.

          "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."

          Rizzolo co-facilitates the World Peace Initiative, billed as "a global affair to bring people together through art in the name of peace." 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 will make the following air-inflated structures: a dome about 25 ft. in diameter; a cylinder 100 ft. long and 18 ft. in diameter; four helium-filled tubes of 18 in. diameter that each span 200 ft.; 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."

            More information on the regional workshops will be announced later this month.

            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; and the Downtown Developmental Authority of Sault Ste. Marie.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director