MSU alum transforms underused park space into meditative labyrinth

Ken Hunter saw a lot during his time as a seasonal staff helping to maintain the grounds at a popular park in the City of East Lansing. The biggest was the beauty of an abandoned space, once reserved for the by-gone era of outdoor shuffleboard at Patriarch Park. Immediately, he saw the potential.

As a 2016 graduate of Michigan State University with a dual bachelor's in fine arts and arts and humanities, Hunter applied his creative thinking to reimagining the space as a retreat or meditative outpost.

"My initial thought was how to recreate the space and make it user-friendly," says Hunter. "At first, I thought of some sort of mural and place for picnics. But after seeing how people engaged with the space, how they came there to be alone or to eat their lunch, I went in another direction."

Hunter took his idea for a meditative labyrinth to the City and was given the go-ahead to transform the neglected 58- by 26-foot space. He applied for and received a $3,000 grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, then proceeded with plans to create a contemplative garden from 1,000 square feet of moss and succulents planted within 1,200 feet of edging arranged in semi-circular patterns.

"His vision for an underused and abandoned space turned out fabulous," says Cathy Shambo, environmental services administrator for the City of East Lansing. "That part of the park is quiet and shaded. The rest of the park is very active and athletic, so if you're looking to enjoy nature, it's a lovely area to sit and visit."

Hunter spent about 40 hours on the physical creation of the labyrinth that was dedicated in late May. Since then, people have come to stroll within the peaceful pathways created by the unique design or to simply sit in the shade and enjoy the visual qualities and tranquility.

Hunter resides in Chicago and attends Northwestern University where he leads Design for America—a group that challenges students to apply design for the social good. The recipient of numerous awards for printmaking and painting, Hunter says he views art as a communicator that unites people and community.

"This idea for this labyrinth was born from the idea of how I can make this place better," says Hunter. "I'm not anyone special. I was just a person with a vision and sought after it. I would love to encourage others to do the same."

The meditative labyrinth can be found off the southernmost drive of Patriarch Park, located at the corner of Alton Road and Saginaw Street in East Lansing.

Source: Cathy DeShambo, Environmental Services Administrator, City of East Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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