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Two renowned Michigan artists deliver public lectures

Aug. 6, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Two prominent Michigan artists are coming to Western Michigan University Aug. 7 and 8 to deliver free public lectures as part of the Summer 2007 Professional Development Workshops, a weeklong series of events for art educators.

Dr. Dewey Blocksma, a contemporary folk artist, and Tyree Guyton, a Detroit artist whose urban art at abandoned inner-city homes has drawn international attention and acclaim, will present public lectures at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 7 and 8, respectively, in the Richmond Center for Visual Arts. The workshops at which they will speak are sponsored by the Michigan Art Education Association and the art education program in the WMU Frostic School of Art.

Blocksma's sculptures, while on the surface appearing folksy and whimsical, make telling comments on contemporary society. These are "toys" with a satirical voice. Blocksma's story is varied and interesting; from saving lives in the practice of medicine, to imbuing found objects with life as an artist, a thread of continuity runs though his work. Blocksma has received public commissions for his work in various Michigan communities, such as Traverse City and Harbor Springs. His art also is represented in the Time-Life Collection, the Johnson Toy Collection and MGM Studios and exhibits his sculptures in major galleries in New York, Chicago and other venues.

For Detroit artist Guyton, the urban environment is his canvas. Known internationally for his socially conscious work, Guyton calls attention to Detroit's forgotten neighborhoods, while at the same time challenging traditional notions of art, permanence and ownership. For nearly two decades, Guyton has dedicated himself to the Heidelberg Project, an ongoing public art installation that reclaims neglected houses in an east-side Detroit neighborhood, embellishing the structures and surrounding grounds with color, pattern and significant objects. His work is represented in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Charles Wright Museum of African American History and numerous private and corporate collections. Guyton visited WMU in September 2005 as a King-Chavez-Parks Visiting Professor.

While here, Blocksma will conduct a workshop for the WMU/MAEA event. Guyton will also be on campus as part of a larger project--the construction of a sculptural installation that will be assembled under his supervision by students enrolled in Dr. William Charland's master's course, Recent Topics in Art Education. The design for the sculpture draws from Guyton's work on the Heidelberg Project and will be mounted in the sculpture courtyard of the Richmond Center as part of an upcoming exhibition, "The Inland See," curated by Chicago art critic and scholar James Yood. Guyton's visit is underwritten through the generosity of the WMU Sculpture Tour.

An annual event, coordinated since 2003 by Charland, WMU assistant professor of art, the summer workshop series draws more than 50 art teachers from across the state for a week of residential learning and professional camaraderie. This year's workshops include studio topics such as papermaking, bookmaking, printmaking and sculpture. Other workshops focus on best practices in middle school and elementary art curricula and museum/school collaborations presented in conjunction with the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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