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8/6/2017 8:59:00 PM
Michigan City Public Art Committee welcomes new sculptures

Samantha Smith, Herald-Argus Staff Writer

MICHIGAN CITY — The Michigan City Public Art Committee (MAC) in conjunction with the Michigan City Common Council held the 2017 Sculpt fusion Launch party at Artspace on Wednesday night.

The event celebrated the installation of five new art sculptures that have been installed in Michigan City. 

Sculpt fusion debuted in 2013 and was originally an exhibit of eight art sculptures that were meant to be rotated each year throughout the Michigan City Uptown Arts District and Washington Park. As a result of the sculptures becoming popular among the public, these sculptures were kept in Michigan City throughout 2014 with five more sculptures being added and one being removed.

This year, five of those sculptures have been removed and replaced with sculptures from artists such as Janet Austin, whose “Waterbird” sculpture is now installed on the south-east side of Franklin Street. Austin said the sculpture is modeled after a blue heron, a bird native to Indiana Parks during the summer. She said her intent was to convey a clean ecosystem.

“These birds need clean water to live and I think they signify a clean environment so that’s why I made (this sculpture) for this area,” she said.

Austin added that she also wanted to draw people to the sculpture through its color and shape. She described her sculpture as “toy-like.”

“I think it’s fun when people can look at a piece of sculpture and think about how it’s made. It can appeal to little children who might like it for the shape and color and the fact that it looks like a puzzle,” she said.

Artist Cynthia McKean attended the event to celebrate the unveiling of her sculpture, “Libretto,” which is located near 5th and W. Franklin streets. According to McKean, she came up with the idea for the sculpture while walking past an opera house with a friend. She said the sculpture is supposed to emulate something musical and abstract.

“Opera is very sophisticated and beautiful, but the outside of the building wasn’t, so in my mind I started thinking about what I could make to make the building more impressive,” she said.

McKean lives on the lake in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has sculptures throughout the western side of the state including pieces in Saugatuck, South Haven and is a part of a biannual exhibit at the Krasl Art Center in Saint Joseph.

“I like to have a presence on the western side of the (Michigan) coast. It’s just so beautiful there,” she said.

Both Austin and McKean said they found out about the sculpt fusion project through friends and colleagues.

“I’m a part of Chicago Sculpture International and some of our members were encouraged to apply. About 10 times more people applied than were actually chosen so I feel so thankful to be welcomed into this beautiful community,” Austin said.

“I heard about sculpt fusion through Lora Fosberg (project director for sculpt fusion). She contacted me about applying to have one of my sculptures to be put downtown so I did and it turned out great,” McKean added.

Other new sculptures that have installed this year as a part of sculpt fusion include “Sol Invictus” by Dan Shaughnessy, located at 9th and W. Franklin streets, “Bear Family” by Jim Collins, located on Lake Shore Drive across from the Washington Park Zoo and “Woah,” located on 8th and W. Franklin streets.

The Michigan City Public Art Committee also has a contract with Otocast, a phone application that creates a map to where the sculptures are throughout the city and narrated audio guide that gives some background about the sculptures and the artist who made it. For more information about the Michigan City Public Art Committee and Sculpt fusion go to

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