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Akron Tree Project takes root on West Market Street

Published: August 8, 2016 12:00 AM
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Local artist and Akron native, Michael W. Marras, completed his first largescale, public art: The Akron Tree Project is a 25-foot sculpture of a tree, fabricated out of recycled steel and aluminum. It is at 143 W. Market St. on the facade of HazelTree Interiors.

The Akron Tree Project began as part of Marras' five year plan upon returning to Akron from Orlando, Florida where he taught in the Fine Arts Department at Full Sail University. "I had a series of goals I set out to accomplish within a finite period, and the installation of a largescale public sculpture was part of my vision for Akron," Marras explains. By mid 2014, he had the concept for his piece a tree made out of recycled materials, to express his commitment to environmental issues and inspire the community to appreciate the beauty that surrounds this great city.

The location was decided upon with the help of Karen Starr and Jon Haidet, owners of HazelTree Interiors, and passionate supporters of the arts. " We were so honored to be asked to provide the space for Michael Marras to share his community art sculpture with Akron. The Akron Tree Project is a beautiful new addition to the West Market Street landscape! We are in love with it and couldn't be happier to be the hosts of yet another public artwork in the form of a tree on the side of our building," says Starr. W ith assistance from Michael's father, Bill Marras, a retired city architect, The City of Akron approved his preliminary plans.

Michael teamed up with local fundraiser, Eliza R. Williams, to raise the funds needed for the project. Nearly 200 individuals from Akron and beyond gave donations totaling over $18,000. The project took seventeen months to complete.

The trunk of the tree was installed in December of 2015 and Marras completed installation of the branches and leaves during the last week of June in 2016. The community has been instrumental in making this project happen. They donated, they supported, and they stopped by to ask questions and encourage Marras up until the final stages of the project. One donor, local attorney Michele Morris writes, "A s a lifetime Akron resident not only am I grateful for our extraordinarily talented resident artist Michael W. Marras for contributing this gem to our city but I also wish to salute his generous spirit, his painstaking effort, his relentless focus and the commitment it required for him not only to create this masterpiece but to then give this exquisite piece of art to Akron."

If you are interested in learning more about Michael W. Marras, visit his website,

www.mwmarras.com. You can see his work in person EarthQuaker Day on Aug. 6th from 1 to 8 p.m. at 3 50 W. Bowery St., Akron. F or more information please contact Marras at 330-6204254 or mwmarras@gmail.com or Eliza R. Williams at erochellew@gmail.com or 330-607-3430.

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