© 2023 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ArtPath is an annual public art exhibit produced by the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center in partnership with the City of Lansing Parks & Recreation. Visit ArtPath for more about the art featured here. Supported in part by Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center.

Maureen Gray builds a guardian | 2023 Lansing ArtPath Profiles

 tall metal sculpture with a large stainless steel ball as its focal point
Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center
Maureen Gray describes her piece as a kind of earth guardian.

Some pieces made for the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center’s annual ArtPath exhibition are more abstract.

The meaning behind one sculpture placed on the Lansing River Trail might not be clear at first, but the Interlochen-based artist who created it is inviting viewers to take a moment and reflect.

tall metal sculpture bolted to concrete in a park. A large stainless steel ball is the focal point of the piece
Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center
Maureen Gray has been working with metal for her sculptures for nearly a decade.

Maureen Gray calls herself a three-dimensional artist who primarily works with metal and stone. She’s been making sculptures for forty years.

Gray wants her sculpture for ArtPath to remind people to take responsibility and be good stewards to the planet.

"This piece just being called Guardian will let people know that it is looking after the Earth or it is part of the Earth and that we are needing, really definitely needing to take care of what we have and what surrounds us," she said.

The sculpture stands about eight feet tall. Its base is made up of two long pieces of metal, curved in opposite directions.

On top of that is another metal piece, laid flat with a shallow curve, that cradles a large, reflective stainless-steel ball.

Another large piece of metal has been attached to the top of the ball that Gray describes as looking like wings. It’s bent in the middle with both ends reaching up to the sky.

Gray says over time, much of the metal she used will age and rust, giving the piece a two-toned look.

"Stainless steel won't rust, and I don't know what they do to make it so it won't, but the other will rust and get a beautiful patina," Gray said. "It will become a really deep dark, reddish brown. It’s fantastic."

 Maureen Gray standing in grass in front of a tree
Sophia Saliby

She says that contrast is part of the message of her piece.

"You have a rusted piece and a silver piece or a shiny piece, and it's trying to deal with the diversity of the planet. I believe that we should all get along. We're all the same," she said.

"My work is really devoted to trying to open people's eyes to the fact that harmony and peace is the best thing to go."

There’s also a meditative quality that she’s hoping to evoke, so people can reflect just like the shiny stainless steel that’s a part of the sculpture.

"I hope my work is zen enough, so people can get a peaceful feeling out of it and still get (an) idea, even their own concept, what the concept is, but I really want it to be more of a peaceful zen artifact."

Gray likes when she gets to put her art in public spaces because it can encourage people to find one another.

"We have a path that we can walk on, and it's right next to the river and people congregate," Gray said. "That's what art should do. It should bring people together."

Maureen Gray’s sculpture Guardian can be found at the trailhead just off from the Saginaw Street parking lot on the river trail.

The Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center is a supporter of WKAR.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
Did you know that 40% of Michigan third graders have trouble with reading? Join WKAR in our efforts to increase youth literacy. Every donation of $60 or more provides a reading kit to a child in our community, and funds another year of local journalism. Donate today!