Overview: Artist-In-Residence

All workshops, meet-ups, school visits and other events related to ACAC’s Artist-in-Residence program with Michelle Lougee are postponed due to the coronavirus. We are following Town of Arlington guidelines and will not resume public activities until we receive notice that it is again safe for people to gather. If you are interested in crocheting at home or joining a google group for project updates, please email our public art curator Cecily Miller. 

Michelle Lougee

The Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture’s first artist-in-residence project brings highly regarded sculptor and fiber artist Michelle Lougee to town; many community partners are contributing to make the residency a success, especially the Arlington Public Library, which is contributing a home for the project at the Fox Library.

Working through June 2020, Michelle will create a large-scale collaborative public art project with the community for the Minuteman Bikeway. You are invited to learn how to crochet with “plarn” — a yarn made from recycled plastic bags — and contribute to a collaborative work with a message: if we all work together we can create beauty and protect the environment!

For questions about the Residency Project or Workshops, contact us at PlarnArtPlanet@gmail.com!
  • Michelle Lougee with a few of her creations

Project Overview


Michelle Lougee began using plastic bags as a material 10 years ago to draw attention to plastic pollution in our oceans. She creates elegant intricate forms that are reminiscent of organic life  coral reefs, seeds and nuts, insects and single cell organisms, reminding us of the complexity, beauty, resilience and fragility of the natural world around us. Her perspective complements Arlington’s commitment to environmental activism and stewardship.  The Town has been a leader in community-led efforts to reduce plastic waste; from kids in elementary school Green Teams who have eliminated plastic straws from their lunchrooms to the Zero Waste Committee activists who have organized to pass a single use plastic bag ban, stopping plastic pollution matters in Arlington.


Pathways was started in 2017 to bring art to Arlington’s Minuteman Bikeway. Every year artists have created something new for the busy section in the Cultural District near Spy Pond. For 2020, Michelle Lougee is collaborating with community volunteers to create a project calling attention to the dangers of plastic pollution while transforming plastic bags into public art.


You can donate plastic bags inside the Fox Library for this project.


The more people who participate, the bigger our sculpture will be, and the more impact on the Bikeway and the community.  Plus you will see your work in one of the busiest public spaces in Arlington. You can participate in many ways:

  • Donate your plastic bags — newspaper subscriptions, supermarket shopping and veggie bags, and other light weight (clean, not torn) single use plastic bags, especially color!  We have bins at the Fox Library and DPW.
  • Ask your friends and neighbors, your office or book group, or your child’s school or scout troupe to collect bags.
  • Learn how to make “plarn” at one of our free workshops and prepare plarn for crocheting.
  • Learn how to crochet at one of our workshops – make sculptural elements at home and at our monthly meet-ups.
  • Help Michelle teach others how to crochet at one of our workshops — be a mentor!


Attend one of our workshops and GET INVOLVED!


We would love your help! Join the informal PLARNING BRIGADE. Please come to a workshop or meet-up to hear how the project works. If you are interested in joining the BRIGADE, we would welcome your help as a mentor at workshops and monthly meet-ups!
If attendance is not possible, we can send you instructions via email. Just let us know by emailing PlarnArtPlanet@gmail.com

Pathways: Public Art on the Minuteman Bikeway

The goal of the residency is to create a new sculptural work for PATHWAYS, the ACAC’s initiative to bring public art to one of the busiest public spaces of Arlington: a section of the Minuteman Bikeway located in the Town’s Cultural District.

Michelle will be developing a site-specific design during January and February. At the same time, she will lead workshops to teach people how to create sculptural shapes; these shapes will be assembled to compose the finished work. The completed sculpture will be installed in 3 areas near Spy Pond, between Linwood Street and Swan Place, joining work by Christopher Frost and Johnny Lapham.

This collaborative “craftivist” project was inspired by RIPPLE, a vibrant knitted work created by artist Adria Arch and the 57 member Knitting Brigade in 2017.  RIPPLE transformed 12 trees with colorful patterns and unexpected textures, creating surprise and delight for the thousands of people who cycle and stroll by.  Many of the members of the Knitting Brigade are working with Michelle Lougee this year, forming the core of our new “Plarning Brigade.”



We welcome new partners to join the project as it unfolds. Current partners are

  • ACMi (Arlington Community Media, Inc)
  • Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • Arlington Center for the Arts
  • Arlington Council on Aging
  • Arlington Department of Public Works
  • Arlington Knitting Brigade
  • Arlington Public Libraries – the Robbins and Fox
  • Arlington Public Schools Green Teams
  • Arlington Recycles
  • Old Schwamb Mill
  • Sustainable Arlington
  • Town of Arlington Department of Planning and Community Development
  • Zero Waste Committee
  • The Roasted Granola Café
  • Arlington Scouts
  • ArtLinks

Advisory Group

  • Adria Arch
  • Lorri Berenberg
  • Leah Brouder
  • Kimberley Harding
  • Jill Manca
  • Stephanie Marlin-Curiel
  • Charlotte Milan
  • Rachel Olivieri
  • Elizabeth Rocco
  • Aneliese Ruggles
  • Amanda Troha



The residency is funded in part by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency. Library workshops, meet-ups and installations are supported by the FRIENDS OF THE FOX.

Additional funding provided by people who have created and purchased painted chairs at CHAIRFUL WHERE  YOU SIT, our annual fundraiser, and other individual supporters.