MARSHALL - If you look out the windows of the new library in Marshall, you may also see a familiar sight or two, or 20.
Twenty etched-glass drawings, which are part of a public art project created by artist Michon Weeks, formerly of Marshall, were recently installed at the new Marshall-Lyon County Library.
Because the library serves the whole county, Weeks said that is why she decided to create drawings of roadside objects in Lyon County.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Michon Weeks designed the 20 etched-glass drawings that are a permanent part of the new Marshall-Lyon County Library. Each drawing is a different landmark from around Lyon County, including the Welcome to Amiret sign and a street sign from Lynd.
"It would be a way of celebrating the identity of the whole county," Weeks said. "It's a rural area, everything is done by car, so the road is an important part of culture."
Weeks made one drawing for each of the towns in Lyon County. Earlier in the year, she had suggestion boxes at each of the branch libraries throughout the county, inviting patrons to give their ideas.
"I had 20 suggestions, but I probably only used about seven," Weeks said.
Some of the ideas were general, Weeks said, like "do something that relates to farming" to the specific. Erica Jones, a fifth-grader at Marshall Middle School, had submitted the Marshall Hotel sign that is in downtown Marshall. Jones said the sign was something she'd see every time her family would drive by on Main Street.
"It just looked cool at that angle," Jones said.
"She was the only kid who had a suggestion," Weeks said.
After she gathered the ideas, Weeks went around the county to photograph the objects, which includes Ghent's "Rolle Bolle Capitol of the World" sign, the Russell bandwagon, the Taunton Senior Center and Minneota's Bug Hut.
She said she either drove to the spots or took her bicycle.
"I didn't drive on gravel roads," Weeks said. "I wanted objects people would recognize."
Weeks used wavy grid drawings to depict each of the roadside objects. The grid was etched on the back of the glass so it would have dimensionality, she said.
"The distance between the grid on the back and the image on the front gives it that dimensionality," Weeks said.
Weeks worked with Glass Art Design, a fabrication company in Minneapolis, to make the finished product.
"I worked with them to come up with the concept of how it would be etched," she said. She said the company looked at her drawings and figured out how they would look on glass.
Glass Art Design then installed the 20 etchings on Nov. 16. Sixteen of the etchings are located in the fireplace area of the library. Four are in the community room.
An opening reception will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at the library.
Overall, Weeks said, the project took about a year and a half from start to finish, which included working with the library board, Holly Martin Huffman, the library director and architect Ron Halgerson, who helped design the library, a grant application, and the drawings themselves.
The project was funded by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council and a generous gift form the Friends of the Marshall-Lyon County Library.
"The drawings are intended to give viewers a whimsical scenic grand tour of Lyon County," Weeks said. "Viewers are invited to observe and consider the everyday beauty of life in Lyon County as envisaged through the metaphor of the roadway."