An intergenerational mural created by East Lansing seniors and middle school students will be dedicated in downtown East Lansing tonight. The dedication will take place at 6 p.m., an hour after the city kicks off its first Arts Night Out event in conjunction with the Greater Lansing Art Council.
The mural is in the alley across Grand River from the Broad Art Museum, and adjacent to 549 E. Grand River. Seniors from the East Lansing Prime Time program collaborated with students from the MacDonald Middle School Art Club to create the mural.
The project began in January 2016. The mural is comprised of three 3x5 foot panels. One panel was worked on by seniors at Prime Time for several months; they also went to MacDonald Middle School on Thursday afternoons to work with students during after school Art Club over a five month period.
Prime Time seniors also worked with students in the transitional program who attend class at Hannah Community Center. These young adults have completed the East Lansing High School curriculum and receive job training as they transition out of school.
Lisa Richey, Program Planner at the Prime Time Seniors Program, explained the benefits of this kind of collaboration. “Seniors enjoy the youthful energy of the students and the students get to work with older residents who are actively engaged in their community. It’s a great way to maybe dispel some myths about what it’s like to get older. It’s a win-win.”
The original design idea of the mural came from Kelly Arndt, Director of the Prime Time program. Arndt has a long history of working with glass and “came up with the idea of using buildings from the area”, according to Richey.
Arndt, a longtime proponent of intergenerational projects, saw an article about Lauren Engler, an art teacher at MacDonald, which detailed her involvement with a mosaic done by middle schoolers. That mosaic was created in honor of a fellow art club student, Matt Epling, who was a talented artist and a victim of bullying.
A crowdfunding effort was launched for the Artist Alleys project in East Lansing in October 2015. The goal was to raise $45,000 by November 12. If the goal was met, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) would match that amount with a grant towards the project. The project is a part of the MEDC Public Spaces, Community Places program.
The project was crowdfunded through Patronicity and surpassed its goal by raising $47,285. In addition to the public art, additional improvements to the alleys will include the installation of new public tables, chairs, games, lighting, and landscaping.
“We are thrilled to commemorate the installation of new public art in downtown East Lansing,” said East Lansing Community & Economic Development Administrator Lori Mullins. “The EL Artist Alleys project has been made possible by more than 100 generous contributors and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. We would like to thank all of the supporters for helping make public spaces in downtown East Lansing more vibrant.”
The project was coordinated by a number of community partners, including the City of East Lansing, Michigan Municipal League, Greater Lansing Association of Realtors, the Downtown Management Board, East Lansing Arts Commission, Prime Time Seniors’ Program and the East Lansing Public Schools.
Tonight, “the completion of the mosaic will be celebrated with some speakers, and as part of the wider theme of the evening, there will be street art, musical performances and other fun activities,” said Richey.