Artist-in-residence crochets with environmental twist

The Robbins and Fox libraries are partnering with the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture (ACAC) to welcome PATHWAYS artist-in-residence Michelle Lougee to Arlington to create a new work of public art.

Michelle Lougee, crochet artistMichelle Lougee, crochet artist.

The Robbins Library was the host for a reception to meet the artist on Monday, Dec. 9.

Lougee’s work embraces an environmental theme, and the evening will include an update on local environmental initiatives and a performance of original songs by fith-grade activist Judah Almond.

The Fox Library will be the home base for free workshops, which start Jan. 4 and continue through June; occasional workshops will be held at other community locations.

People of all ages are invited to learn how to crochet and contribute to a collaborative sculpture Lougee is designing for the ACAC’s public art exhibitions on the Minuteman Bikeway in the Cultural District.

The project has an important twist: Crocheters will learn to make and use “plarn” -- a plastic yarn assembled from plastic bags collected from the community.

Known for elegant sculptures

Lougee is well known in the Boston area for her use of this material to create elegant, colorful sculpture inspired by sea creatures, seed pods and microscopic life forms.

The Fox Library has invited ACAC to set up a collection box in the lobby and invites everyone to donate their newspaper delivery bags and single use grocery bags to help make the project a success.

Lougee normally works alone to execute her carefully crafted sculpture. Her goal in Arlington is to invite community members to help her create a larger scale artwork that will send a message about the power of a community coming together to reduce plastic and protect wildlife and the environment.

Arlington has been active in environmental efforts, banning plastic bags from retail sales and reducing plastics in school lunchrooms.

Bikeway a continued focus

Cecily Miller, the ACAC’s public-art curator, said in a Nov. 26 news release: “My hope is that Arlington residents of all ages will participate in this creative project that will carry an environmental message into one of the town’s busiest spaces – the Minuteman Bikeway – where thousands will see it every day.”

Director of Libraries Andrea Nicolay added, “I’m proud of the library’s commitment to building partnerships and supporting public art. This installation will add a really engaging, intriguing feature to the Arlington Cultural District too.”

Throughout the residency the Fox Branch Library will host workshops and meet-ups to support her crocheting efforts.

Fox Branch Manager Amanda Troha says, “Similar events have been popular in the past and we expect this enthusiasm to continue with Lougee’s work. I was discussing the project with the Fox Library’s new knitting meet-up and everyone was so enthusiastic to support this collaborative art project. I know everyone is excited to see the final project on the Minuteman Path.”

The library has a history of supporting public art projects and collaborating with Arlington Public Art. The Fox Branch Library hosts mask making workshops ahead of the annual Fox Festival and serves as the kickoff location for the parade.

“Art is alive and well in Arlington,” says Troha. “The Fox building was the canvas for a wheat paste animal mural, hosted the Arlington Knitting Brigade, and I hear regularly discussions of public art during our Fit at Fox walking club.”

At the Dec. 9 event, the public is invited to meet Lougee, see some of her work and hear more about plans for free public workshops, where participants can learn her techniques and help make sculpture for the ACAC’s PATHWAYS initiative.

ACAC’s artist-in-residence project is made possible by a grant from the Mass. Cultural Council, a state agency.

Other partners

In addition to Arlington libraries, Sustainable Arlington has joined as a project partner and workshops will be hosted by the Council on Aging, Roasted Granola and other collaborators.

ACAC’s project advisory group includes Troha (Fox Library), Charlotte Milan (town DPW’s recycling coordinator), Aneliese Ruggles (Arlington Center for the Arts), Kimberley Harding (ArtLinks), Lorri Berrenberg (Arlington Public Art), Leah Broder (Thompson School Green Team) and ACAC representatives Adria Arch and Stephanie Marlin-Curiel.

More information is available at

Aug. 17, 2019: Along the bikeway, a room of our own

Oct. 1, 2017: Now here's a yarn: Ripples of peace to flow out on bikeway

This extended news announcement was published Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.

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