Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s social mission was lived by over 20 interns during the first of the three planned volunteer experiences at the Lincoln Street Art Park.
We were greeted by Frank, a giant repurposed plastic dinosaur (ironically, plastic is made of petroleum which is made of – you guessed it – dinosaurs). The park is full of bright colors and odd pieces, many of which were donated in the middle of the night. There’s one particular piece that caught everyone’s attention; it was dark and tucked under an overpass. The only thing more remarkable than the artist’s skill was his message. The piece depicts a paper airplane, symbolizing the artist’s journey through life in the city, flying over buildings until it unfurls into a letter he had written as a boy to his deceased father explaining how he hoped he was making his dad proud.
In the middle of the day, who should walk up to the group, but the artist and his son. He spoke to us for a few minutes about the power of creating a place for art, especially in a city that can be very ugly. The mud, dust and paint caked into our clothes seemed worth it to create beauty, and seemed beautiful itself.
After lunch, we toured other initiatives in the complex: Recycle Here, a music studio and a compostable products warehouse. It was clear that one act of creativity or beauty can inspire so many more. We returned to weeding, buff painting, hauling mud or picking up trash, energized by the experience and the glorious sunshine.
The day was tough, but we learned beauty can be found anywhere and made of anything, if you work hard enough.