The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Ted Lee Hadfield

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and our weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature mixed media sculptor, photographer, musician, “extreme gardener”, and the President and CEO of Artpack Services, Inc. Ted Lee Hadfield. Ted is also a member of the Farmington Area Arts Commission.

When did you first get started in the arts?

The creative process (once I truly understood the freedom that it provided) has always been intriguing to me … in fact, today I find it’s a necessity. I began my formal education in the arts in 1970, at Mott Community College, in Flint, where I was born. A two-year program where I spent almost four years … It was a great four years, and the price was right, $10 a credit hour. The faculty was simply the best that I have ever had, my Master’s program years included. It indicated very clearly to me the importance of having teachers that really value and understand creativity.

Can you describe something you’ve created that is particularly meaningful to you?

It would be disingenuous if I did not say my greatest creative endeavor and achievement has been my company Artpack Services. I began it one year after receiving my Master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1980. Many have referred to me as a visionary (how nice would that be?). The reality is I needed a job and I didn’t want to work for anyone. Necessity is truly the Mother of Invention.

My sculpture has revolved around an open book format for many years. Today I have three very large “books” that are installed in the Graduate Library at the University of Michigan. All three are based on the ancient gardens of Japan, which I visited years ago. I find that I am continually rewarded by that experience and by being included in the Universities permanent collection.

Another recurring theme in my work is the Labyrinth. Or, as I call it, the reconstructed Labyrinth. It’s an image that clearly illustrates a pathway, but in life pathways are not so evident. We make choices, often opt for a different direction and hopefully learn from our decisions. For me, the reconstructed Labyrinth successfully illustrates that notion.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

My creative experiences and endeavors always lead me back to my favorite quote by the Gestalt Therapist, Fritz Perls: “Full contact is implicitly incompatible with remaining the same.” Many years ago it was somewhat of a mystical statement to me. Today it seems obvious, primarily because it is so true. It’s not only contact with other humans, but animals, trees, plants, mountains, valleys and bodies of water, the list goes on.

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

See my comment about favorite quotes. In that one statement there is a bit of genius. Young people need to get outside, outside of themselves to look, listen, experience what the natural world has to offer. What many of us overlook today is the fact that experiencing nature is free. The creative goal isn’t necessarily to think of something new … the goal is to interpret your experience; in that way, it is uniquely you.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?

I don’t think there is anything glaringly missing from the arts community in F2H. There seems to be a general concern for and understanding of the benefits of having art present both indoors and outdoors. In a community setting, art should never seem inflicted on people. This primarily occurs when sculpture is ill placed or installed poorly. Installations can make or break the successful acceptance and understanding of any artwork. Additionally, as with anything in life, maintenance is of utmost importance.

Why is celebrating and promoting art healthy for a community?

If art is sincere, it is inherently diverse. We gather and celebrate primarily because we are happy to have new experiences, or to have met new people. Art promotes a whole world awareness, because it exists everywhere, even in countries where it is banned. It simply stimulates our curiosities and attempts to fulfill our need to connect.

Learn more about Ted Lee Hadfield and his art here.

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