Tom Lakenen has found a way with his own creation - Lakenenland in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. Using welded art sculptures and heavy metal to express his passion and capture the attention of a broad audience, Tom gets his point across while displaying his vision, skills and talents that were built during a career as a welder.
Lakenenland is an open display of welded art - junkyard art, as Tom calls it. Each of the more than 80 sculptures in this wilderness art gallery tells a story in a unique way. Free to the public, Tom's creation includes art inspired by his own life as well as current events that have effected us all. Through his work, you can clearly see that he's given new life to old and discarded objects using a little welding, a little cutting and a whole lot of imagination!
A professional welder and member of the Local 506 Pipefitters Union, Tom was a proud and accomplished tradesman. His craftmanship and artistic talents are apparent in his work. In addition, Tom has been able to express his personal experiences and values in a way that others can relate to and enjoy. On my tour of Lakenenland, it was clear that he had much to say and chose to use that as motivation to create and build his message. This profound accomplishment will ensure that people see and hear this message long after his words have lost their volume.
Sure, some of the sculptures depict this personal experience and his distrust in corporate America, but not all of them. No, Tom hasn't dwelled on this alone. Instead, he's used his art to show much more than a political opinion. Many of his creations represent a unique historical viewpoint of the area - Marquette, MI. Other speak of values, beliefs and playful humor that any human can relate to.
As a welder with my own values and beliefs, I found it easy to relate to Tom through his artwork. I'm thoroughly impressed by his ability to say so much in a meaningful way using items from the scrapyard. As a fellow human being, I can appreciate the symbolic representation of each sculpture and found an emotional connection through this artwork.
If you find yourself outside of Marquette, MI on the shores of Lake Superior be sure to stop and see Lakenenland for yourself. And perhaps you'll find your own way to constructively speak your mind using Heavy Metal Expression!
The gallery below is from my last visit to Lakenenland in July 2013. I visited the exhibit with my family and we all had a great time exploring Tom's outdoor gallery.