Young Artist Tapped for Valley Court Sculpture

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Monday, November 26, 2018, 8:25 am
Amalia Medina

The City of East Lansing has hired 22-year-old Dane Porter to design a sculpture to be installed in Valley Court Park in East Lansing. The project will most likely be completed in spring of 2019.

Creativity is in Porter’s blood. His father worked construction. His grandfather worked as a car designer for Chrysler. His grandmother, the person who supported him the most and to whom he attributes most of his artistic ability, was constantly taking photographs and, according to Porter, “just built stuff like crazy.”

When he was growing up in Holt, Porter began to paint and draw. He eventually grew bored with the two-dimensional world that paper provided, and discovered his love of sculpting.

“I got kind of bored with things being flat,” Porter said. “I like [sculpting], ‘cause it’s textural and different rather than something flat and boring.”

After discovering his love of sculpting, he attended Siena Heights University for a year to study art. A year ago, he bought a studio in Dimondale and opened Dane Porter Art Company to design and build his own art.

“I knew I always wanted to do something creative. However, I didn’t know what that meant,” Porter said. “When I went to school for a year, I went for art. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I think it was my time there when I realized this was what I enjoy making over designing something for corporate America and having it mass produced.”

When he was still fresh out of Lansing Christian High School, Porter created a sculpture for Granger Construction Company. Porter was surprised when, despite his young age, he was treated as an equal.

“I think sometimes there are some challenges, but I’ve been surprised by how easy it’s been for the most part,” Porter said. “When I started it, I was super nervous. I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously. I had this baby face. I was this little kid.”

He has been taken seriously. He has done many residential jobs and larger jobs for several companies including First National Bank and MSU Federal Credit Union, but the Valley Court sculpture will be the first one of this scale.

“I guess the biggest challenge is the fact that I’ve never done anything this big before,” Porter said. “It makes me kind of nervous. It’s more deep in detail as far as the permits I have to get, the structural engineers I need to okay it, the footing, all that stuff. So, it’s a challenge as far as the fact that it’s kind of new to me, some aspects of it.”


The sculpture (rendered above), titled “Lemongrass,” will depict blades of grass being held in the air with an abstract twist. Porter’s main inspirations for his work include architecture and nature.

“I get a lot of inspiration from modern architecture and nature,” Porter said. “I think [those are] two of the main areas where I get inspiration.”

The sculpture will be constructed of steel and aluminum. Porter is also considering adding acrylic to give it a transparent look.

Along with this job, he juggles between working a part-time job for Delphi Glass and creating his own art to sell. His goal for the future is to be able to focus on his own business, Dane Porter Art Company.

“I think my dream would be doing this full time as a career,” Porter said. “I think if I were to have a place in the Bellagio or something like that, some really high-end place I think that would be really cool. Being able to say I worked so hard and got to this point.”

In the meantime, Porter is satisfied with the important job of making the sculpture to be put in Valley Court Park. Fulfilling his dreams he’s had since he was a child, doing it at age 22 and doing it so close to home gives him a sense of accomplishment and success that art has always provided him.

“I think my favorite thing about art is taking something that’s nothing and making something out of it,” Porter said. “The fact that I can make something and look back at it and say, ‘I did that’ is pretty cool to me.”


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