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UMD Student Wins Pathway Design Contest
The bike rack design of UMD graphic design student Michelle Miller is a reality. Her idea, which uses an anchor and rope as an inspiration, was chosen by the Twin Ports Pathway council for fabrication and installation in Duluth. She is one of seven local artists whose conceptions have been made into whimsical yet useful bike racks.
Miller, whose hometown is Plymouth, Minn., was enrolled in associate professor Eun-Kyung Suh's 3D digital studio class last year. She entered the Duluth City Bike Rack design competition as one of her class projects and she used animation software to create the design — the 3D's max computer modeling program.
When Miller was given the design project assignment, she wanted to incorporate the area's most important asset: Lake Superior. "I originally came up with an elaborate idea of a fisherman with a rod, where the fishing line was the rack for cyclists to lock up their bikes." Because the Pathways council only provided $2,000 for fabrication of each bike rack, Miller decided on a more streamlined design.
"I got some inspiration from the William A. Irvin ore boat anchor," she said. The William A. Irvin is a ship museum on the water's edge in Canal Park. "The design I settled on came from more of an unconscious feeling. I wanted to stay with a water and boat theme since it's such a big part of Duluth's heritage." The design worked well for Miller, and it was chosen to be the rack that currently resides in front of the U.S. Bank building in downtown Duluth.
When she first heard that she was chosen to have her design on public display she couldn't wait to tell her grandparents who used to live in Duluth. "They were very excited for me and for them to be able to see and touch it in Downtown Duluth made it even better." Miller said.
Miller, who had never worked with steel, found it challenging to find someone willing to build the piece. "Most of the other racks were designed and built by local artists. I had no equipment and no idea how to work with steel."
The first steel company she contacted "was a bust" because of the high cost. Then Twin Ports Pathways led her to Superior Steel, who made her bike rack to her exact specifications.
Miller's bike rack and six others have been introduced to promote a partnership between the arts, recreation, and business communities. It also encourages individuals to use their bikes for the daily commute. One of the best aspects is that the new bike racks allow the public to interact with functional art.
For her efforts, Miller received $1,000 for creating a winning design. More importantly, she gained confidence and an addition to her resume. After graduation, Miller wants a career that will use her graphic design major. Creating an outdoor sculpture — a piece of art — is a rare achievement for a college student. "It's a real boost. Now I have an award-winning project and recognition for my design."
Racks have already been installed and are located behind North Shore Bank, near the Damiano Center, Lake Superior Plaza by MN Power, Grandma's Restaurant in Canal Park, the Duluth Library, along the Lakewalk, and Miller's design at US bank. Business sponsors involved with the project include Grandma's Restaurant, Minnesota Power, US Bank, the Damiano Center and North Shore Bank of Commerce. Project partners include Duluth Art Institute, the Greater Downtown Council, the Bridge Syndicate, Duluth Area Trails Alliance and Fit City Duluth. The Twin Ports Pathways Initiative Pathways (Bike Trails and Amenities) is a team focused on making Duluth-Superior a bike-friendly metro area by facilitating the creation of bike lanes, installing public bike storage decorated by local artists, connecting existing bike trails, distributing trail maps, and hosting local bike races.
Written by communication major Alicia Stockard.
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