LATHRUP VILLAGE — They are small dolls, some made of recycled plastic, others of fabrics and fiber, all without faces and each with individual inspiration.
“I’m a doll artist who makes African-inspired dolls. They don’t necessarily represent any particular country or culture. I’m more inspired by the spirit of the people,” said Michele Sapp, the artist behind Annie’s Girls. Her business, started in 2002, is named after her grandmother, who passed away the same year.
“When I made my first one, I thought of my grandmother, and it just felt right.”
Sapp is one of nearly 30 artists who will be sharing her creations with the community at the 10th annual Michigan First Summer in the Village June 15. She explained that she makes each doll unique, and though she sees beautiful colors and a love of textures on the outside, with strength and courage and perseverance on the inside, her customers see whatever is invoked within them.
“That’s because I don’t put faces on the dolls, as a rule. I don’t because I feel that in society, we judge people based on their physical characteristics and we don’t know anything about their true spirit,” Sapp, a Farmington Hills resident, said. “So I prefer to not put faces on them and let the viewer see the inner beauty of the doll.”
Sapp, who is the only artist of her kind in the show, said people really respond to that idea, and her customer base spans males and females, all ages and all races.
Sapp sells her dolls inside the Detroit Institute of Arts and in exhibits across the state. She is even featured in galleries throughout the nation, and said Lathrup Village’s art fair remains among the most accommodating and pleasant experiences she’s had as an artist.
She noted the hard-workers in the city and little things, like assistance during setup and volunteer support, have made her feel welcomed the nine years she’s taken part, and therefor part of the tradition.
“That’s why I keep going back every year,” she added.
City Administrator Jeff Mueller noted that not only is this the 10th Summer in the Village festival, it coincides with Lathrup Village’s 60th anniversary as a city next month.
“What was at first just trying something out has really turned out to be something that’s stuck around,” Mueller said of the event. “It’s evolved, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Along with the volunteers, Mueller cites Recreation Coordinator Maralee Rosemond and Art Fair Event Chair Renee McClain, who has chaired all 10 years, as the masterminds behind the annual festival. He said it’s definitely become part of the community.
“We bring in about 6,000 people: residents, people who used to live in the city, people from all over southeastern Michigan,” he added.
The event includes the Oakland County Parks and Recreation-sponsored BBQ Battle, the art fair, free kids’ activities, a mini-pub, a food court and live concerts. The Blues Brothers tribute, “The Soul Men” with “Shady Drive” will journey from Cleveland, Ohio, to be the day’s main act at 7 p.m. Tim McGraw and Beatles tribute bands will also perform.
Admission, parking and activities for kids are free.
The BBQ Battle kicks off at 9 a.m., with awards given at 6 p.m. to the day’s best grill masters. The art fair will run 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and the family-fun area, which includes a kayak in the Lathrup Pond, the Liberty School Butterfly Farm, face painting, Make-n-Take Treasures and other activities, will run 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The mini-pub, complete with entertainment, will feature $2 Michigan craft beers from 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.summerinthevillage.com.
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