East Lansing Dedicates Sculpture to Honor Woman's Legacy

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"Not only is it a marker for her service to the community, but it's going to be a reminder here every day when people walk into city hall about our commitment to inclusion and diversity, and I'm very excited about having that here."

-East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett

The broad art museum isn't the only place to find world-class art on MSU's campus.

A brand new sculpture was just revealed downtown in memory of one of East Lansing's icons - former city council member Mary P. Sharp. Some say life imitates art, but in this case, her family says it might be the other way around.

"I just look at this piece in front of city hall and it captures energy and humor and vitality and subtance," Mary Sharp, daughter of Mary P. Sharp, said. "I think it's a remarkable piece."

It's in honor of a remarkable woman with many of those same qualities. Sharp was a trailblazer as East Lansing's first female city council member in 1965 and a champion for civil rights.

"We're proud of her!" Mary Sharp said.

Mary P. Sharp passed away in 2006. Her children and extended family were happy to come together for this celebration on Abbot Road. They traveled from all around Michigan, Connecticut, and even North Carolina to share memories of the past about their forward-thinking mom.

"I think I sort of resented a little bit some of my mother's 'I have to go out to a council meeting,'" Mary P. Sharp's son Sam Sharp said. "Now in retrospect to see what a difference and what an effect she had on this community, it's very rewarding."

The sculpture was made possible by $55,000 dollars in donations from the communuity. City council said it spruces up the area outside the building, but it also serves as an inspiration to the entire community.

"Not only is it a marker for her service to the community, but it's going to be a reminder here every day when people walk into city hall about our commitment to inclusion and diversity, and I'm very excited about having that here," East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said.

With the sculpture appropriately named "Raising Harmony," Sharp's family hopes their mom's work will live on, and leave an impact on generations to come.

"We are capable of meaningful change and the more grass roots and the more local it is, the more effective it is," Mary Sharp said.

The artist worked closely with the family to learn everything he could about Mary P. Sharp.

More than 200 community donors contributed the money for the sculpture.


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