MSU alumnus builds new meditative labyrinth at Patriarche Park
Some visitors to Patriarche Park might notice a new art installation in the southwest corner of the grounds.
The City of East Lansing held a ceremony there May 31 to unveil MSU graduate Kenneth Hunter’s new meditative labyrinth. City council and arts commission member Susan Woods spoke at the event, along with Hunter and Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
The project was funded through the arts council’s Artist in the Community grant, which awards up to $4,000 to a local artist every other year. Hunter received $3,000 to complete the labyrinth.
Hunter wants the project to inspire others to think of ways to reuse space in their community.
“I hope, at least, that people would be inspired to make projects like this,” Hunter said.
While working maintenance at the park last summer, he said, he saw the area as underutilized and left to decay. It was covered with leaves and the large concrete planters nearby were full of mushrooms and weeds. He began to think of new uses for the space and got the labyrinth idea from a similar structure at a summer camp he worked at in 2015.
The labyrinth is constructed from plastic garden edging with moss and succulents planted along its pathways. It sits upon a previously bare concrete slab, with some large concrete planters and a few picnic tables nearby. It stands out, green in the midst of a patch dominated by gray.
The Arts Council was excited to sponsor the project, Mikula said. One of the council’s goals is to encourage artists to work in tandem with the city or local nonprofits. Hunter’s project fit the bill because of his close relationship with the City of East Lansing.
She thought the labyrinth turned out well, especially for being the efforts of a single artist working alone.
“I was pretty impressed,” Mikula said. "I think being an individual that did a project like that, it was pretty cool. I haven't seen a labyrinth in this area."
Woods walks her dog at the park almost every day, she said, and plans to visit the labyrinth often. She lauded praise upon Hunter for trying to reuse community space.
“And that’s what they did, with an artistic effort,” Woods said. “I just could not be prouder.”
But the green space is not as vibrant as it was at the unveiling, the moss rendered a dull brown color by the sunlight.
The moss is still alive though, Hunter said, and the hope is that the hardier succulents will spread quickly and provide shade. At the very least, he said, the succulents should survive and take over the moss’s space should it die.
Hunter said he is happy with how the project turned out, but would look to better engage the public with any future projects, recruiting community members to help. More community engagement, he said, would inspire others to improve their city.
Hunter now works as a research fellow at Northwestern University. He hopes to return to the Lansing area, he said, and continue to inspire people to do what they can for the community.