MARQUETTE – More than 1,000 Upper Peninsula residents have participated in the Oneness of Humankind: Unity through Diversity art initiative. The culmination of their efforts, according to organizers, might be the largest geographic collaborative art project in Michigan's history. It will be showcased in a "grand finale" display at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba Aug. 18-20.
The art initiative is made possible through a grant awarded by the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies and administered by Northern Michigan University.
Regional workshops held in Sault Ste. Marie, Escanaba, Houghton/Hancock and Marquette – not to mention numerous summer camps and art centers – attracted participants from 18 months to 94 years of age. They created and decorated large-scale, inflatable air structures depicting the uniqueness of the area in which they live.
Workshops were led by two collaborating artists in residence: Lou Rizzolo, a retired art professor from Western Michigan University; and Dick Ross, a retired educator from Ishpeming.
"When the structures from all four regions join together at the fair, the four directions will reflect humankind and our relationship with Mother Earth," Ross added. "Not only will be the diversity of the peninsula be united, but the gap between the peninsulas will be bridged. It has been estimated that more than 200,000 people will view this unique work created by the people of the Upper Peninsula."
Each of the four regions created giant inflatable structures comprised of cylinders 110 feet in length and 18 feet in diameter; a dome 35 feet in diameter; a cone more than 80 feet tall; and helium and air filled tubes that are 18 inches in diameter and 100-500 feet in length.
The assembled project, which will be illuminated in the evening hours, will be hard for visitors to miss from its location in the grandstand area at the U.P. State Fair Grounds.