I returned to Michigan, after living in Vermont for 13 years. I thought I would return to a thriving economy and begin a new, but familiar life. What I found is a state that is struggling to survive. Michigan had an enormous presence during the Industrial Revolution of the 1700 and 1800’s. We were known for our innovation using tool and die, presses, and in building the furniture industry. We have wonderful fresh water lakes (instead of salt water oceans) that provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment throughout the year. My family has lived here for several generations. We have been plumbers, tool and die makers, teachers, fisherman, grocers, pharmacists, engineers, bankers, community leaders, gas station and motel owners. One of my grandfathers was a grocer with several stores and the other a plumber who became a charter fishing boat captain.
Currently, Michigan is struggling. Our residents are struggling. We have enormous physical plants that stand empty. Products made in Michigan are now made overseas. Our businesses need to reinvent themselves. I realize that change is a part of life, but……
Whether we like it or not, subtle changes happen each day of our lives, whether it is our aging, the change of seasons, a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. As residents, business owners, and employees, we must struggle with this nagging question, “How can I survive in a changing landscape and sustain my way of life?” Yes, we can change. We will adapt, move forward, and do more than survive. We will grow and learn.
This is a conceptual sculpture. I have used the resources of West Michigan to build this work. Pyramids were chosen to reflect their symbolism of life moving forward, the next life. For myself, I feel as though I have lived many lives. I can’t be alone in this belief. I have used life circles throughout this structure to depict life moving forward, never stagnant.
I walk the beaches in sunshine, rain, and snow. The changes can be, both, stark and beautiful. You just have to look.
I have taken hundreds of digital images and contacted several local companies to research their image archives. I needed to narrow the focus. I portray manufacturing from the 1920’s through today. We have evolved from using our hands and assembly lines to computerized machines that make parts with little human contact.
I began thinking about our lives as infants, teens, young adults, parenthood, aging, and senior years. In doing this, I remembered moments in my own life: being at the beach, swinging on a metal swing set, prom, a wedding, the Vietnam war, having children and watching them grow. I have narrowed it down to one man, my grandfather. He loved life. He lived 85 years. He saw many changes in our world, lived through the horrors of war, death of a child, earned money in many ways to support his family, raised children and grandchildren. At the end of his life, I remember his laughter. He and my grandmother could still laugh after a very full life together. So, at the end of the day, isn’t this what matters.
So, yes, we can adapt.