This summer, writers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in a new tour as part of a collaboration between the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) and YpsiWrites, a nonprofit community writing center affiliated with Eastern Michigan University. The YpsiWrites Public Art and Writing Tour utilizes the Ypsilanti area’s many murals, sculptures, drawings, and architectural features to inspire creative writing prompts that participants can use to craft their own literary works.
Created by Grace Vandervliet, curator for museum teaching and learning at UMMA, and YpsiWrites co-founders Ann Blakeslee and Cathy Fleischer, the free program offers three separate public tours: Depot Town, downtown Ypsilanti, and the Eastern Michigan University campus. Downloadable maps of each route are available on the YpsiWrites and UMMA websites. On each tour, writers can explore the community as they venture through markets, gardens, memorials, coffee shops, auditoriums, and more. Each stop showcases a specific work of art or architecture, along with a related writing prompt.
“…The walking art tour and writing prompts were created in an effort to encourage those in the community to discover and enjoy the art hiding in the City of Ypsilanti and stretch their creativity when it comes to writing,” says Blakeslee in a press release.
The tour includes stops at spots like the Tridge, a three-way bridge that connects Riverside Park, Frog Island Park, and Depot Town, as well as notable destinations like Pease Auditorium, a public 9/11 memorial that features a steel beam pulled from the debris of the World Trade Center, and the MLK Garden, which includes a sculptural bust of the civil rights leader. Artwork from students at Ypsilanti Community Schools — whose scheduled displays at the U.S. Department of Education’s gallery in Washington, D.C., were canceled due to the pandemic — is also on the tour.
Participants are invited to share their completed pieces on the YpsiWrites website for an opportunity to have their work featured by the community center. For those who would like to develop and improve as writers, the nonprofit also offers virtual writing consultations.
For more information, visit ypsiwrites.com.