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creative:impact - Art is blooming in the parks this summer

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Embracing Our Differences
"Embracing Our Differences" collage

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

Deb Polich
David Fair
89.1 WEMU
Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, at the WEMU studio.


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    Nancy Margolis
    Nancy Margolis
    Graduated Medill School of Journalism 1957
  • Married Philip Margolis, 1957 - Deceased We have four children and eight grandchildren
  • Editor, Safety Education Magazine and Home Safety Magazine, National Safety Council, 1957-1962
  • Moved to Ann Arbor, MI in 1966
  • Received Masters in Social Work, University of Michigan 1976
  • Deputy Director, Washtenaw County Community Services Agency (anti-poverty agency_) 1976-1988
  • Founding Executive Director, Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor and Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, 1988-2000; 2011-2013
  • Founder, Corner Health Center, 1995, primary health care clinic for teenagers
  • Honors: Woman of Achievement, Michigan Anti-Defamation League;
  • Ann Arbor Jewish Family Services Bernstein Award–for Community Service
  • Trustee, Washtenaw Community College; Award of Merit
  • Member, Washtenaw Community College Foundation
  • Trustee, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation 2014-2000


Lynne Settles (2).jpg
Lynne Settles
Lynne Settles

  • Organization: Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan
  • Title: Committee member and Board Member
  • Artist, a retired Ypsilanti High school art teacher, responsible for social media organizing the "Call for Art" for local artists and selected the judges (all also artists) for this project.
  • Creative Field: Arts Advocate/Artist/Art Education
  • Upcoming events Exhibit Grand Opening - May 14th at 1 pm Gallup Park, Artist Receptions May 22nd from 6 pm to 8 pm - Ypsilanti Freight House
  • Personal Bio


Embracing Our Differences

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan Art Exhibit

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan on Facebook

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan on Twitter

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan on Instagram

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan on YouTube


Deb Polich: Welcome to creative:impact on 89 one WEMU. Thanks for tuning in on Tuesdays to meet creative guests rooted in Washtenaw County and explore how their creative businesses, products, programs, and services impact and add to our local quality of life, place and economy. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host for creative:impact. You know, art is blooming in our parks this summer. There's a new outdoor exhibition coming to town, and it's larger than life. After a few years of dreaming and more than a year of planning, Embracing Our Differences, a collection of billboard-sized art installations will be placed in parks throughout Washtenaw County. Nancy Margolis and Lynne Settles are here to tell us all about it. Nancy and Lynne, welcome to creative:impact.

Nancy Margolis: Thank you.

Deb Polich: Really glad to have you here. So, Nancy, you are the passion behind Embracing Our Differences. You decided to bring it to this area and to pull people together. Tell us what it is and why you wanted to bring it to Washtenaw County.

Nancy Margolis: Thank you. I'm happy to talk about it. Evie Lichter and I saw this program in Sarasota and decided it would be fabulous for Washtenaw County. So, we decided to bring it here. It's a program that has billboard-sized art, as Deb has said, but the real meat of the program is the curriculum that's available for teachers in the schools. The art is being installed as we speak in Gallup Park and Leslie Science Center in Ann Arbor and Riverside Park and Parkridge Community Center in Ypsilanti.

Deb Polich: This is not the first time you founded an organization or project, Nancy. In fact, the Corner Health Center, the Jewish Community Center, and the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor-- organizations that still serve the community very well can be traced back to you as their founder. Still, starting an art-based project during the middle of a pandemic presents unique challenges. How did you go about getting others like Lynne involved?

Nancy Margolis: It was quite a challenge, as you can imagine. What I did was literally talk with hopefully every single organization in town, and we've had about 30 different coffees. I drank a lot of coffee last fall. And with that, I then went to the county administrator, Gregory Dill, told him about the program and he said, "Nancy, I love it. Bring me a proposal, and we'll make it happen." He loved it because he's involved with DEI--Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And, of course, this program is all about diversity and how we can make our lives--and how we can enrich our lives--with diversity. And then, just with that and sort of emboldened by his interest, I was able to then go and ask for lots of our money from that.

Deb Polich: There's always that asking for money part. And it's also bringing in the right people. So, Lynne, you're an artist and activist and a former art teacher in Ypsilanti Community Schools. What appealed to you about embracing our differences?

Nancy Margolis: Let me first say, before she speaks it, Lynne has been a jewel that I didn't know beforehand. But Lynne has taken over all of the social media for Embracing Our Differences and ran the call for art. We have local artists. We have about 28 local artists. She'll fill you in on that. Lynne has done all of that, and she's been fabulous.

Deb Polich: Well, you've got a fan in Nancy. So, besides her personality that brings people together, what did engage you about Embracing Our Differences?

Lynne Settles: Well, I think everything that you just said. Art. Art education. Social justice. I was excited when Nancy brought this proposal to me. Like I said, we were sitting in Cultivate, and she mentioned all the things. And I'm like, "This is everything that I'm passionate about. I want to be a part of this."

Deb Polich: And so, you did the call for art. And my understanding is that this is a combination of work that is local and then some from other places. So there's about 60 installations. Is that correct?

Lynne Settles: Yeah. So, there's 60 installations. 28 of them are Ypsi and Ann Arbor artists.

Deb Polich: So, tell me a little bit about the call and what charge you gave to the artist to respond with.

Lynne Settles: So, I put the call out through every form of communications I could come up with. Social media, emails, personal phone calls of artists that I knew, connections to artists. And their request was diversity and inclusion. Some artists had pieces already on hand. Some artists actually went into the studio and created pieces just for this show.

Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan
Embracing Our Differences installation

Deb Polich: And ages?

Lynne Settles: Ages. All ages. Elementary and middle school. High school. Adults. Professional artists. Artists that are professionally trained. Artists that are amateurs. Paintings, collages, a lot of 3D art, computer-generated. It was open for everybody.

Deb Polich: And those were the original sources. And we'll talk about how those were transferred into this these billboard sizes in a second. 89 one WEMU's creative:impact continues. I'm Deb Polich. My guests are Nancy Margolis and Lynne Settles, two of many community members behind the Embracing Our Differences art exhibitions flowering Washtenaw area parks this spring and summer. So, Lynne and Nancy, you had to take these original works in all of those different media and create these billboard-type things to it. That had to be a process, too. Who worked on that, Nancy?

Nancy Margolis: Well, a number of people, I think. I think the way it started--Lynne, correct me. I think when people presented their work to Lynne and then to the judges, it came on PDFs online. And then from there, they were transferred to Walked On, who was able to transfer them into a formatted JPEG format that could be blown up to billboard size.

Embracing Our Differences
Embracing Our Differences billboard

Deb Polich: Right.

Nancy Margolis: And then we shipped it all down to a Florida banner maker. These banners are 16 feet by 12 feet on heavy vinyl. So, they had to be printed on this heavy vinyl.

Deb Polich: And larger than life. I mean, technology makes that all possible. It used to be extremely difficult to do that kind of work. And thank goodness we have that technology these days. So, where are the works actually installed, Nancy?

Embracing Our Differences
Embracing Our Differences billboard

Nancy Margolis: The works are installed in four parks. They're almost up in Gallup Park. They're installed in tripods. So, you'll see there's three different pieces of art in a triangle. So, there'll be 39 banners in Gallup Park. They'll be six banners in Leslie Science and....

Deb Polich: Nature Center.

Nancy Margolis: In Ann Arbor. And then, in Ypsilanti, they'll be nine banners in Riverside Park and an additional six banners in Parkridge Community Center.

Deb Polich: And this is opening on what date, Lynne?

Lynne Settles: May 14th.

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Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan
Embracing Our Differences flyer

Deb Polich: May 14th. So, it's coming up right here. So, I'm going to assume it's a walking tour. Is that correct, or is there a mode of transportation that helps people get around?

Nancy Margolis: We are offering free bus trips for students for classes from the public schools--from Ann Arbor Public Schools in Ypsilanti Public Schools. And we have about 25 teachers who have signed their classes up as ready. We will be having docents meet those classes at Gallup Park. The docents are being trained, and we've had a wonderful support from Eastern Michigan University Engage Department. They are training the docents for us. And otherwise, people can just go through the banners themselves and make their own decisions about what they're looking at and what they're seeing in the message of the art. However, we're very happy to offer a tour and a free docent anytime someone wants one just by contacting us.

Deb Polich: Oh, excellent. We'll have that contact information on the web site. So, Lynne, I know choosing your favorite artwork is just not possible. It's like choosing your favorite child. But is there one or two that speaks to you personally? Can you describe it?

Lynne Settles: Oh, gosh.

Nancy Margolis: They're so good.

Lynne Settles: Yeah, they are. And this is so difficult because the pieces speak to every aspect you can imagine. Each artist put their own interpretation in diversity and inclusion from the international pieces to the local pieces to the Internet. Wow.

Deb Polich: So, not possible.

Artist Reception flyer  (1).jpg
Embracing Our Difference SE Michigan
Artist Reception Flyer

Lynne Settles: No, it's not possible. Some of the things that children came up with was just amazing. But, yeah, totally impossible.

Nancy Margolis: As Deb well knows, art is transformative. So, when you see some of these pieces, it changes your thinking about things that can change your life or helping make you think about.

Deb Polich: Well, that's a perfect segue to my next question to you, Nancy. What do you hope people take away from Embracing Our Differences?

Nancy Margolis: I hope that they have a look at differences, all kinds of differences--sex, race, LGBTQ, physical and mental challenges--and understand that all of these differences make a difference in our lives and are beautiful and can really make an impact on our world.

Deb Polich: Excellent. And, Lynne, would you just repeat the dates of the show?

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Embracing Our Differences SE Michigan
Grand Opening Flyer

Lynne Settles: The show opens May 14th with our gala opening at Gallup Park.

Deb Polich: And it runs through...

Lynne Settles: Nancy?

Nancy Margolis: Through September 30th, because we're hoping that the teachers who cannot do field trips now in the spring will be able to do that. Sign up for the fall.

Deb Polich: Well, it sounds really exciting and can't wait to see it. Thank you for giving us an advance look, and we'll see you at the park.

Nancy Margolis: Perfect. Thank you. Thank you for having us, Deb.

Deb Polich: Thank you. This is 89 one WEMU's creative:impact. And I'm Deb Polich. My guests today have been Nancy Margolis and Lynne Settles, two of many community members and organizations behind the Embracing Our Differences art exhibition flowering Washtenaw area parks this spring and summer. Find out more about our guests and the exhibition at WEMU dot org. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and host of creative:impact. I hope you'll join me again next Tuesday when we meet another creative Washtenaw guest on this, your community NPR radio station, 89 one WEMU and WEMU HD one Ypsilanti.

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Polich hosts the weekly segment creative:impact, which features creative people, jobs and businesses in the greater Ann Arbor area.
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