June 17, 2024

Art in every corner: Wayne State’s ArtWalk transforms campus into living museum

A sculpture, part of the Wayne State University art walk tour, in front of M. Roy Wilson State Hall.

On Wayne State University's campus, the ArtWalk transforms the grounds into a vibrant outdoor gallery. These captivating installations highlight the university’s dedication to fostering creativity, celebrating diversity, and engaging with the community in a dynamic and inspiring way.

The art collection at Wayne State dates back to 1968, when former University Curator and Professor Emeritus Richard Biliatis launched an initiative that led to the establishment of a hands-on resource for scholarship. Around 2008, Sandra Schemske, Biliatis’s successor, expanded this vision by creating the ArtWalk, ensuring that art was accessible to everyone on campus.

“Where can you see art 24 hours, 7 days a week?” said Grace Serra, Wayne State’s art curator and coordinator. “Our collection is a celebration of Detroit and regional artists.”

Wayne State’s campus now features 30 outdoor art sculptures, with the recent addition of three installations. What makes these sculptures unique is their origin: Each piece, along with the entire campus art collection, has been generously donated to the university.

“The ArtWalk was created to educate and enlighten students, faculty, staff and guests about the remarkable sculptures installed on our beautiful urban campus,” Serra said.

The ArtWalk starts at the medical campus and extends throughout the main campus area. It is available both in person and online, with visitors able to use an interactive map to navigate the tour and gain insight into each sculpture’s significance.

A significant milestone in the ArtWalk’s history is the conservation project funded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Women of Wayne Alumni Association. Under the direction of Schemske and Elisabeth Johnston, volunteers identified and researched outdoor sculptures, created a walking tour, and produced a brochure. They also served as docents, providing guided tours of the campus artwork.

“Our community has supported this,” Serra said of the program, which is now managed by the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. “Their dedication to the arts has ensured that our campus remains a vibrant cultural space for both education and enjoyment.”

Last year, the university unveiled two art sculptures created by Wayne State alumni, including "City with Halo,"which is in front of the Thompson Home.

“This sculpture is particularly special,” Serra said. “John Piet and his wife, Christine — both Wayne State alums — left their entire estate to the university when they passed for student scholarships, including their entire art collection. Their donation funded the restoration and installation of this sculpture.

“There’s no other collection like this,” Serra continued. “We focus on Wayne State alumni and faculty, celebrating their contributions to the arts.”

For more information about Wayne State’s ArtWalk tour, please visit artcollection.wayne.edu/artwalk.


Darlene A. White
Phone: 313-577-8093
Email: darlenewhite@wayne.edu

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