Art & Design

Greater Lansing artist takes inspiration from beavers for design of EL Art Festival poster

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This year, East Lansing is celebrating the 59th year of its annual art festival.

It was scaled down last year due to pandemic restrictions but is back in full swing for 2022.

Greater Lansing artist Sara Pulver designed this year’s art fest poster which features an illustration of a beaver.

WKAR’s Megan Schellong spoke with Pulver about her connection to the Greater Lansing community and why she decided to choose a beaver as the centerpiece of the poster for the festival.

Interview Highlights

On why she chose a beaver as the star of the poster

It’s not hard at all to draw those parallels between beavers and artists. Because we too, I feel like are often the unsung heroes. And we’re kind of working quietly in the background at times, maybe being devalued by society. Our careers thought of as hobbies. But yet, with everything we make, we kind of completely shape the world around us and continue our work beautifying and creating environments out of nothing and creating that change that will stick around.

On the messages she’s hoping to send with her artwork

I was diagnosed with major depression and general anxiety disorder when I was a child. So, breaking the mental health stigma is very important to me, and so it’s something I often speak about very candidly. And I typically try to bring causes that are close to my heart into my work, so not only does that include the wildlife biology and conservancy, but also mental health and a lot of human rights issues. And I always think human rights issues are inherently feminist to me.

On what she loves most about the Greater Lansing community

I love our passion here… the people of Lansing are tenacious and the creative community here is beyond supportive. I love that we have this gritty perseverance, but at the same time we value community over competition.

Interview Transcript

Sara Pulver uses a paintbrush to fill in a sketch of a mural. She is wearing a dark green plaid shirt and black pants.

Jennifer A. Berggren Productions.

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Sara Pulver

Sara Pulver uses a paintbrush to begin a new project.

Megan Schellong: This year East Lansing is celebrating the 59th year of its annual art festival.

It was scaled down last year due to pandemic restrictions but is back in full swing for 2022.

Greater Lansing artist Sara Pulver designed this year’s art fest poster which features a beaver.

I spoke with her about the inspiration behind the artwork and her connection to the community. I started off by asking Sara about her connection to the Greater Lansing Area.

Sara Pulver: I’m a Lansing lifer. I have been here pretty much always. And I spent 10 years in arts administration, where I established a lot of connections with local artists and creative agencies and things like that, and so now I am a local illustrator and muralist. And you can find my work kind of all-around town a little bit.

Schellong: And Sarah, were you born and raised here?

Pulver: Yes. I’m from Laingsburg. And after high school, I moved out to the Lansing area, and I’ve been here ever since.

Sara Pulver paints a mural for Art Path. She background is a solid dark green color. She is using a paint brush to paint a grey stone underneath the feet of a bird. She is wearing a dark-colored top.

Jennifer A. Berggren Productions.

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Sara Pulver

Sara Pulver paints a mural for ArtPath.

Schellong: Very nice. And so what was your inspiration behind this poster? Can you describe for us what it looks like for those who haven’t seen it?

Pulver: Yeah. So, it’s got some vibrant colors. I really wanted to make sure that it was eye-catching but still working in kind of that limited color palette that I enjoy. And beavers, I think you can draw a lot of parallels between beavers and artists. So, beavers are engineers of ecosystems, so they completely shape the world around them. And their dams and pools reduce soil erosion, they filter pollutants. They improve the environment for the rest of the forest, right? And these changes can last hundreds of years after beavers have left the area.

So for me, it’s not hard at all to draw those parallels between beavers and artists. Because we too, I feel like are often the unsung heroes. And we’re kind of working quietly in the background at times, maybe being devalued by society. Our careers thought of as hobbies. But yet, with everything we make, we kind of completely shape the world around us and continue our work beautifying and creating environments out of nothing and creating that change that will stick around.

We kind of completely shape the world around us and continue our work beautifying and creating environments out of nothing and creating that change that will stick around.

Schellong: Another one of the themes that are kind of present in your work are themes of feminism and mental health. What message are you hoping to send with your artwork?

Pulver: Well so, I was diagnosed with major depression and general anxiety disorder when I was a child. So, breaking the mental health stigma is very important to me, and so it’s something I often speak about very candidly. And I typically try to bring causes that are close to my heart into my work, so not only does that include the wildlife biology and conservancy but also mental health and a lot of human rights issues. And I always think human rights issues are inherently feminist to me. So, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to donate a portion of my profits for certain items and products right back to causes like these such as Planned Parenthood Michigan, ACLU of Michigan among others.

Schellong: So, you’re obviously very ingrained in the Michigan Community. What do you love most about the Greater Lansing area?

Sara Pulver is painting a sloth mural on a brick building. She wears a black t-shirt and jeans. The mural includes colors like green, purple, pink, orange and yellow. The sloth in the mural is hanging from a green vine.

Jennifer A. Berggren Productions.

/

Sara Pulver

Sara Pulver paints a sloth mural.

Pulver: I love our passion here. So, it’s hidden underneath some citywide self-esteem issues, but the people of Lansing are tenacious and the creative community here is beyond supportive. I love that we have this gritty perseverance, but at the same time, we value community over competition.

Schellong: And what are you most looking forward to at this year’s art festival?

Pulver: Well, I always look forward to the art festival. I love browsing the vendors, purchasing art, eating delicious food. But this year, I cannot wait to see the incredible floral installation from Sparrow Bloom. They are a local florist, and they are weaving in some elements of the poster this year and making them come to life in a way that I am just so excited to see.

Schellong: That’s great. Well, Sarah, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it.

Pulver: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure talking with you, Megan.

Schellong: Sarah Pulver is the designer behind this year’s East Lansing Art Festival poster. The East Lansing Art Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday downtown.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.



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