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Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center: A place to showcase diversity

October 3, 2023
Gifts including soap bars, pillows and stickers are sold at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center on Sept. 27, 2023.
Gifts including soap bars, pillows and stickers are sold at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center on Sept. 27, 2023.

Situated in the heart of downtown Lansing, the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center features over 100 Michigan-made artists, all of whose products are for sale, and provides educational and academic opportunities for students across Ingham county.

Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center was founded in 1965 by a group of Lansing-based artists who all wished for the same thing: a place to showcase the diverse artistic abilities of their community.

Since 1965, the gallery has seen enormous growth in many areas. Not only have they diversified and widened their range of art to cater to multiple different mediums such as pottery, jewelry, wood-working, and multimedia paintings, but they have also diversified the range of artists themselves

One constant throughout the art gallery’s history is their desire to make all feel welcome.

“There’s a lot of baggage with the term gallery nowadays,” executive director Michelle Carlson said. “It just feels so restricting and we want to provide a space where all folks from all backgrounds can come together to enjoy art.”

At the beginning of summer, the gallery introduced an LGBTQ+ exhibit that showcased an unprecedented style of art at the gallery. Lorelai d’Andriole, a transgender woman and activist, introduced a performance piece titled ‘the instrument is a body and my instrument is a brick’ that featured her puncturing a drum repeatedly with needles of estrogen—a sex hormone often given to transgender women to lower their testosterone levels

Katrina Daniels, the exhibitions and gallery sales director, said the gallery is in the process of adding more mediums, such as film and performance pieces, to their exhibits. The gallery wishes to keep the momentum going in the coming years with the inclusion of sensory-arousing pieces.

Their most recent exhibit, “Wholly Integrated,” features Zoe Beaudry, a Detroit-based artist, with her multimedia pieces depicting the overlap between the mind and the body, said Beaudry

“The overlaps between the mind and the body and questions about to what extent those are the same thing, underpins a lot of my art practice,” Beaudry said. “So this show is a lot about conception, gestation, and birth - which literally and metaphorically represent moments when the boundaries between the individual, their body, and their surroundings dissolve.”

Originally from East Lansing, Beaudry has held a long-lasting connection with Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center. Her first piece was shown at the gallery when she was only in high school, and following that she volunteered at the gallery during her college years

Beaudry defines her experience and connection with the gallery as “a wonderfully collaborative experience.”

New exhibits are typically revealed every eight weeks. However, their next upcoming exhibit, opening on Wednesday, Oct. 4, is an outlier. The exhibit contains pieces from a variety of artists with the common theme of sexual violence and assault, Carlson said. All the art is created by survivors of sexual assault with hopes to start a conversation regarding sexual violence and assault

Along with the upcoming exhibit, the second level of the gallery contains the Education Center. The center features opportunities for people of all ages to get involved

Education Director Saebren Stevens said the center considers their main goal to be “providing an education in the arts to anyone seeking or interested." 

Advocating for the inclusion of everyone, they provide unique projects such as art-making workshops, where anyone can be introduced and practice a new form of art with the guidance of a professional teacher, and their art ability bags, which is a free bag filled with supplies, written instructions, or a link to a how-to video for people with or without disabilities.

“It’s one of my favorite things about the gallery," Carlson said. "It allows everyone to hone their skills.” 

Carlson said the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center is a vital part of Lansing’s fine arts community

“We wanted to create a space to present all artists," Carlson said. "It is important to see their journey of how they got to this exact moment. Our gallery wants to showcase that journey.” 

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