An important part of Hartland’s history is slowly coming out of the vault as pieces of the community’s art collection are now on display at the Hartland Educational Support Service Center.
Artwork that has been in storage for more than a decade was hung last week in Hartland’s Gathering Place, giving a permanent home to "another gem" of the community.
Nadine Cloutier, a member of the Hartland Art Council and caretaker of the collection, said she is excited to be able to bring the pieces out of "hiding" for everyone to enjoy.
“It belongs to the community,” Cloutier said, admitting that she knows many people aren’t aware that the collection even exists.
The Hartland Art Council, which was started in the 1960s by a group of citizens inspired by J. Robert Crouse’s vision of bringing culture to rural areas, was able to amass an 80-piece art collection by Michigan artists over the past few decades.
Originally, the collection was divided up and displayed throughout Hartland school buildings, according Cloutier, “because that was the most public place to put them.”
Over the years, however, pieces went missing or were damaged and the Art Council decided to pull the collection back together.
At one point, according to Cloutier, parts of the collection were put on display for community art exhibits, Recollections I and Recollections II. Due to space issues, however, in 1996, the council decided to put the entire collection into storage for safekeeping – until now.
The artwork that was chosen to hang up high on the walls in the Gathering Place was picked for its size, coloring and “sense of what the room is meant to be,” according to Cloutier.
The large space that is being designed for the community will eventually have new furniture, a poetry wall and a space for children’s art as well, along the walls.
Which is why Cloutier believes that having Hartland’s “historically significant” art collection added to the space is the “perfect solution.”
“It just all kind of went together,” she said.
With the Hartland Area Council disbanding and Cloutier retiring in the future, Cloutier says she decided to approach Hartland superintendent Jan Sifferman about the possibility of the schools receiving the collection as a donation.
“She was thrilled with the idea,” Cloutier said. “She (Sifferman) is very historically-minded.”
Hartland Schools will eventually become the new caretakers of the collection and with plans to also build a gallery in the main hallway of the HESSC building, more pieces of the collection, such as sculptures and photography prints, will be on display for residents to come and enjoy at their leisure.
“It’s an opportunity to educate everyone,” she said.