HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The North Star is the anchor of the northern sky, an inspirational signal using its glow to help guide humanity toward a purposeful direction. And now it’s also an artistic fixture in Harrison Township.
Sitting at the intersection of North River Road and Conger Bay Drive, the township’s fifth public art sculpture is a labor of love aimed to celebrate those in the community — resident volunteers, business owners, donors, artists and the like — who continue to support a vision of unity.
The sculpture’s dedication ceremony took place on a frigid afternoon Nov. 6. Township Supervisor Ken Verkest heeded the floor to Susan Keehn, the chair of Harrison Township’s Beautification Committee, calling her one of the most influential people in the entire township.
Keehn said the addition of public art throughout the township has provided a sense of pride, culture and storytelling, “one at a time.” As the North Star guides life on Earth, the beauty of art has prompted people in the community to step up and be stewards of hope.
Along with mentioning a slew of local donors who helped make the sculpture possible, she praised the sculptors — brothers Erik and Israel Nordin, of Detroit Design Center — for being “kind enough to go on this journey with us.”
This is the brothers’ fourth contribution to the township. It started with a piece called “Migration,” situated at the intersection of Crocker Boulevard and Metropolitan Parkway, in celebration of the township’s trails and affinity for nature and wildlife.
Erik Nordin called the committee “a wonderful, supportive grassroots group that loves art.”
“We look at space and we think about the community, and then we kind of go through our materials and themes, or styles, and pick appropriate themes to blend them together and make something new and one of a kind. … We really believe that as all people are individuals, all art pieces should be individuals, and they should speak for the people and community we build them for,” Erik Nordin said. “The story is a huge part of our pieces.”
Israel Nordin described how the grid of the sculpture sits at the top, curved into a cylindrical shape. It was inspired by a topographical map of the city, with spheres representing those who call it home. It was thematically inspired by a lighthouse — a beacon for bringing people together.
“This is a cold and lonely world, and what we have is our community,” Israel Nordin said. “We have our friends and family and restaurant owners. The top of it is like a hug; it’s a warm embrace.”
This feeling of comfort has been prominent in all of the brothers’ pieces, showcasing the positive effects of public art. The brothers have found Harrison Township residents, as Israel Nordin described, to be “pleasurable, hospitable and beautiful people.”
“There’s so much divisiveness now in our society that creating conversations about bringing people together and inspiring one another is what we hope our public art can do,” Erik Nordin said.
Donations for future sculptures are always welcome. They can be made out to the Harrison Township Beautification Committee and mailed to 38151 L’Anse Creuse St., Harrison Township, MI 48045.