A Moment in Time
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and although that may be true, in this case: a picture is worth capturing a moment in time. A snapshot of an everyday task, the 8 a.m. morning commute, has made its way into local history in the form of an oil painting.
As the sun peaked over the horizon, morning commuters were cast in a warm glow while waiting for the train at the old station on Harrison Road in East Lansing; inspiration struck local artist Nancy Aitcheson.
“I was on my way to work at MSU some summer morning in 2014. I have driven past the train station multiple times before. But on this beautiful morning the sun hit the scene just right of people going about their business. I was intrigued,” said Aitcheson. “I rolled into the QD parking lot across the street and took a bunch of photos before the sun could shift. I was even late for work to capture the moment.”
Aitcheson knew that one day she would turn those photos into an oil painting, but she didn’t know that the images could become a part of history. The landscape was about to change, and that old train station would soon transform into today’s Capital Area Multimodal Gateway. The new facility operated by CATA, opened in 2015 to replace the nearby Amtrak and bus station which began operations in 1974.
Four years later, Aitcheson laid out the panoramic photos to recreate the scene on a rigid board. She spent months finalizing the piece of art. She removed signs and some cars to make everything come to life.
“The intrigue of where they are going is still true today. I make a story up for them – who are they, what are they doing, where are they going? They are all going somewhere,” shared Aitcheson.
The painting was on display during a local exhibit in October 2022. She said attendees were entertained and recognized the old train station. Perhaps, the viewers had waited for a train before, or were reminded of a similar scene. The local landmark can now be remembered through the lens of the artist and memories of those who experienced this station firsthand.
About the Artist
Nancy Aitcheson studied Studio Art and Design at Mott Community College, and Illustration and Graphic Design at Lansing Community College. After many college courses in studio art and graphic design, she attended art workshops to continue educating herself. She has had several years of formal fine art and graphic design training, but still considers herself self-taught.
Later, she worked as a full-time graphic designer at Michigan State University. Currently retired, her creative energy is devoted to still life paintings, people in everyday situations, interiors and plein air landscapes. She continues to work part-time as a graphic designer at Michigan State University’s Surplus Store and Recycling Center. Today, Nancy is an award-winning artist with multiple accolades. Visit her website at www.nancyaitcheson.com for more information.
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