Artists turn old bus into art for Howell Nature Center
Howell – Wood, stones, bark and leaves.
With a little imagination, kids can create anything from the raw materials they find outdoors.
The first project of a new Livingston County nonprofit arts initiative hopes to tap into that creative energy.
The group, Raw Art, establishes a new creative space for nature art at the Howell Nature Center. A group of local artists recently gathered at Schroeder’s Auto and RV Repair in Howell to paint a mural on a 35-seat bus.
They will transform the bus into a small manufacturing space that will be permanently installed on the grounds of the Nature Center.
The artists painted a bus that will be converted into a manufacturing space for the Howell Nature Center at Schroeder’s Auto and RV Repair in May 2021.
Schroeder offered to tear down the seats as a donation to the project. They are having wooden benches made and will stock them with arts and crafts supplies.
The Maker Space Bus is the first step towards Raw Art’s ultimate goal of establishing a great maker space somewhere in the county.
Art brut organizer Tirzah Sirken owns Finding Roots, a Howell store that sells handmade art, gifts and clothing. Its sellers, artists and artisans often use natural materials to make their products. She is also an artist.
“They’re going to give us the art program and we’re going to focus on nature crafts,” Sirken said.
The plan is to install the maker space bus by June 5, when the nature center hosts a Race for Nature half-mile run and walk.
It will be installed near the Nature Center’s Global Village, which features replicas of model homes from different cultures from Michigan history.
Art brut artists will organize lessons for children and adults in the maker space bus. The nature center also organizes day and night camps.
“We will choose age-appropriate classes. We’ll take the kids for a walk, pick up sticks and stones and make a sculpture or paint on a leaf, for example, ”Sirken said.
She said the general theme would be to make art from raw, natural materials.
“Let’s say we have a potter artist and she’s really good at creating plaques that don’t need a lathe. She could teach a class how to roll clay, squeeze a flower, and paint the clay to look like real Queen Anne lace.
Lizzy Schultz, director of programs and community engagement at the nature center, said the center was looking to make good use of a retired bus and knew Sirken was looking for ways to collaborate.
“We try to get away from kitsch arts and crafts like popsicle sticks and they go home and throw them away. We want to give them tangible skills, like how to paint, and then also how to express the emotions that nature arouses in them, ”said Schultz.
She said the Spirit of Alexandria Foundation, which built a play landscape and treehouse at the nature center, initially donated the bus and two others for its Wildlife Ambassador program, which takes animals to schools and other offsite presentations.
“It’s a big help for us.” Schultz said. “They will be able to provide instructors. Not everyone on our team has these skills, like jewelry making.
She said the nature center was looking for grants to improve the outdoor space around the manufacturer’s space bus with tables, landscaping and other items.
Sirken said she wanted to raise funds to establish a much bigger creative space.
“The bus is our first step. Our next step is to raise funds and eventually open up a huge space where one could enter and practice any of the arts they wish. It would be like Planet Fitness for art stuff, ”she said.
She envisions a maker space covering several disciplines, including a forge, woodworking, pottery, sewing and certified cuisine.
“It’s a big, big dream.”
Maker spaces are generally oriented towards arts and crafts, hobbies and inventions. They usually have studio space and the tools to do some DIY projects. People come to work on their crafts or learn new skills.
Sirken said she envisioned a creative space different from the others she visited. She said creative spaces should be places where artists can get messy.
“I’m an artist and I would never go to any of them,” she said. “I want a place that is dirty and not too sterile.”