East Lansing Public Art Gallery turns 18

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Chloe Alverson

WEDNESDAY, March 9 – Along with two gymnasiums, a fitness center and a 25-meter swimming pool, the Hannah Community Center is home to a hidden gem: the East Lansing Public Art Gallery.

This month, the art gallery celebrates its 18th anniversary. For the occasion, the exhibition “Synergie” by the director of the gallery Yvette Robinson is presented until March 29.

Robinson previously served as an arts curator in East Lansing and was involved with the gallery even before it opened in March 2004. She was chosen to lead the effort to open an art gallery in East Lansing – an effort which she said had been going on since the 1960s.

Robinson embraced the project, immediately researching how art galleries were run in different cities, states, and countries. Others kindly shared details with her – from the color to use on the walls to the lighting in the room.

In all her years as a director, Robinson said her proudest moments came from meeting other artists. The gallery features local, national and international artists.

“Each month is my proudest moment,” she said, noting the gallery’s monthly exhibit changes.

The “Synergy” exhibit features 18 Robinson paintings she completed in just 17 days last month. The paintings were made after she faced a personal incident. In her artist statement, Robinson said that instead of celebrating Black History Month, she was “living what African Americans have fought so hard to change.” Rather than avoiding her feelings, Robinson plunged head-on into her emotions through her art.

“I got into it because that’s all I knew how to do was get so involved and do my art and release my emotions that way,” she said. “So that’s what I did.”

Her favorite piece from the show is titled “Just Breathe” — a phrase Robinson said her inner child needed to remind her to do during this creative process. The piece shows a woman with her hair flying in blues, purples and yellows.

“I was so emotional, I had to say to myself – this little girl inside me – had to say, ‘Breathe, you’ll be fine,'” Robinson said. “I went crazy with the paintings on it.”

She hopes more people will come to the community center and view the art available at the “little little nugget” of arts in East Lansing that is the gallery. There is no admission fee to the gallery, which is located on the second floor of the community center.

Robinson had a message for those who may not be familiar with the art gallery.

“Come see what it’s all about,” Robinson said. “The more people get involved, the more we can grow.”

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