“Talking Oak,” by William Maw Egley, is at the Johnson Nature Center for the Inside|Out program.

“Talking Oak,” by William Maw Egley, is at the Johnson Nature Center for the Inside|Out program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Find DIA Artwork along the Johnson Nature Center trails this summer

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 20, 2023


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — For the last 14 years, the Detroit Institute of Arts has been bringing art closer to the communities of Macomb, Wayne, and Oakland counties through the Inside|Out program.

The Johnson Nature Center, located at 3325 Franklin Road in Bloomfield Township, is one of the participating organizations in the Inside|Out program, meaning visitors can now see several high-quality art reproductions as they are strolling the grounds. This is the first time the Johnson Nature Center has hosted this program.

According to the DIA’s website, the Inside|Out program is designed to cultivate greater engagement between the museum and the community. Other Oakland County participating communities include Clawson, Commerce Township, Pleasant Ridge, White Lake and Oakland Community College.

On June 23 at 11 a.m., the Johnson Nature Center will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the program. Following the ceremony, guided walking tours will be available.

Johnson Nature Center was granted 10 pieces to display.

“It is a pretty significant amount of artwork,” Friends of the Johnson Nature Center President Erin Watson said.

While DIA representatives chose the pieces, representatives from the Johnson Nature Center helped pick out the locations for the artwork.

“We positioned them very purposefully and intentionally,” Watson said.

Watson said that the artwork was placed throughout the trails in a way that inspired people to explore nature.

“There is a health and wellness component to offering it in this format,” Watson said.

Notably, one of the pieces that is uniquely placed is “Watson and the Shark,” which is located near a pond.

“The highlight is how you can blend the beauty of the outdoors and nature with the beauty of paintings and art with the historical connection, because there is history tied up in every single one of these art pieces,” Bowers School Farm and Johnson Nature Center Director Alan Jaros said.

It is expected that each person who sees the artwork throughout the trails will interpret each display differently. The complexity of art and nature allows each person to interact differently with the program.

“For some people, having the art of the trails is encouragement enough to visit us and start to understand that feeling of being immersed in nature,” Watson said. “Even though we are conveniently located in our community and we are not too far off the beaten path, when you step outside the nature center it is like going inside a magical world.”

The Friends of the Johnson Nature Center focus on ecological conservation, community outreach and volunteerism. They are always looking for people to help them accomplish their mission.

“We rely on our partnership with the Friends of the Johnson Nature Center to do activities that bring in the community, whether it is hiking on a trail or this DIA exhibit,” Jaros said. “We are constantly recruiting and inviting other people to be Friends to further that mission of community engagement that Bloomfield Hills Schools does not have the capacity for.”

The art has been on display already for several weeks and will remain at the Johnson Nature Center until October.