A large-scale collaborative public art project developed with the community for the Minuteman Bikeway, through the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture’s first artist-in-residence program.
By Cate McQuaid
ARLINGTON — Plastic persists, breaking down into microplastics, which fish eat — and if we eat fish, we also eat plastic. But there’s another reason “Persistence: A Community Response to Pervasive Plastic,” an installation by Michelle Lougee along the Minuteman Bikeway, got its title.
“It’s also the persistence it took everyone to get through this time, and who helped our project persist,” said organizer Cecily Miller, public art curator for the Arlington Commission of Arts & Culture.
An introduction to a collaborative public art project led by artist-in-residence Michelle Lougee and public art curator Cecily Miller. Persistence is part of the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture's ongoing Pathways Public Art Program. Through Michelle's residency, over 100 people of all ages contributed to a project that transformed thousands of single use plastic bags into art for the Minuteman Bikeway. Fabricated using basic crochet techniques, the sculpture is inspired by organic forms, including single cell organisms found naturally in water.
The project message is that single use plastic persists in our environment for more than 100 years, breaking down into microplastics that enter the food chain and, ultimately, our own bodies. Persistence will be required to reduce plastic waste, but this is essential to preserve human and environmental health. Persistence was also required for the project volunteers, who continued to participate during the COVID-19 pandemic despite many challenges. The vibrant display of large scale sculpture, installed in trees along the Bikeway near Spy Pond, demonstrates the amazing things we can accomplish working together.
Talk of the Town welcomes Arlington Arts Commissioner Cecily Miller and Artist-in-Residence Michelle Lougee into the studio to discuss the public art installation Michelle will be bringing to the Minuteman bike path by next fall. They share the overarching vision of the piece, and also describe just how town residents can take part in a true community endeavor.
Artist Michelle Lougee’s work is “suggestively biomorphic and organic, belying the synthetic material she uses,” writes Pamela Reynolds.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations Science for the Public, Belmont MA
Boston artists Susan Heideman and Michelle Lougee both offer a very creative view of natural forms – organisms, plants, minerals and micro to macro. They discuss their individual artistic approaches to Nature’s variety.
Professor Michelle Lougee’s sculptures make powerful statement against plastic.