Eastern Michigan University
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Extended Programs

Up North


Summer at Parsons

The Jean Noble Parsons Center for the Study of Art and Science is an interdisciplinary educational center and natural area located in rural northern Michigan. The Center sits on 86 acres, consisting of mostly natural woodland and marsh, with Parsons Lake in the center of the property. The Center is the legacy of the late Jean Parsons, renowned sculptor and potter, and is run jointly by the Departments of Art, Biology and Psychology at Eastern Michigan University.

Artist/Scholar in Residence
Become the artist/scholar in residence at the Parsons Center next winter. Find out more.

Credit courses cost the current tuition and fees rate plus a program fee (includes lodging). Some courses are also available for non-credit and SCECHs.

  • PSY 479/592 Healthy Pleasures
  • ARTS 379/479/592 Sculp-itecture
  • ARTS 379/592 Transcendance: Green Art and Movement in Nature
  • ARTS 379/592 Landscape Drawing and Painting
  • ARTS 379/592 Modern Topography: Explore Place Through Drawing and Design

Read course descriptions.

To find out if financial aid can help with housing and transportation costs, contact the Office of Financial Aid at 734.487.0455.

Accommodations in the sleeping lodge units include two beds, chairs, dressers and closets. You should plan to bring your own sleeping bag, sheets, blankets, pillows and towels, as well as, personal bathroom items like soap, shampoo, etc. Restrooms including showers are centralized in the dining hall and are not connected to the sleeping lodge units.

There are also three large canvas tents each with two heavy-duty cots accommodating six. The tents do not have electricity, so a head lamp is recommended. Each class determines their own meal plan for the week, however, in most classes, you'll take care of your own breakfast and lunch. Dinner is typically communal style, cooked by members of the class. Trips into Traverse City and Lake Ann allow adequate access to groceries.

Download the Information Guides: Students [PDF] | Faculty [PDF]

Learn more about Jean Noble Parsons.

Jean Noble Parsons was born on Sept. 6, 1929, in Bridgeport, Conn., the only child of George and Mildred Parsons. She attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla., where she studied painting under Emilin Etting and illustrated a zoology test manual. Jean continued her education at the Tyler School of Fine Art in Philadelphia, Pa., studying painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and woodcarving. During her year stay, she worked in the psychiatry department of Temple Hospital as one of the earliest art therapists in the field. From 1949 to 1951, Jean attended the University of Florida in Gainesville where she received her BA degree in commercial art and minored in applied arts. In addition, she illustrated several medical books. Jean received her MFA in ceramics, minoring in sculpture, at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. from 1955 to 1958. She served as assistant to Maija Grotell, internationally acclaimed Finnish ceramist and head of the Ceramics Department, and was named temporary acting moderator during a half-year absence of the department head.

In 1958, Jean was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. She studied ceramics in Denmark, attending Kunsthaandvaerkskolen, Copenhagen, and mentored with the renowned potter, Richard Kjaerdgaard. As part of her scholarship year, Jean visited factories, art schools, potteries and practicing masters in Denmark, England, Finland and Sweden. She returned to the U.S. and continued individual research in her field at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

In between her years of schooling, Jean was part of the New York advertising and style industry, working as a fashion representative in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut where she promoted sales through department store demonstrations and radio and television promotions. She was employed by John Robert Powers of New York, organizing and teaching fashion styling and makeup in Montreal, Canada. She served as a fashion photography coordinator for John Wanamaker, New York, and represented U.S. Clothiers at fashion shows in London and Paris, and traveled extensively on their behalf in Italy, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Jean also coordinated and propped for major national and international fashion and commercial accounts while in New York.

In 1962, Jean was hired by Dr. Joseph P. Maddy, founder of Interlochen Center for the Arts, and she became a charter faculty member of the Interlochen Arts Academy and chair of the Visual Arts Division. During her 38 years at Interlochen, Jean provided vision and direction to the department, instructing hundreds of talented young people in ceramics, sculpture, painting and drawing. Two of her students became Presidential Scholars in the Arts, a prestigious national honor recognizing her as an outstanding instructor by The White House. Many of her students have become successful professional artists, designers, curators and restorative craftsmen. All have been influenced by her tireless spirit, lofty principles and nurturing guidance. A spiritual person, she had a deep love and reverence for nature and the environment.

How to Get Here

The Parsons Center is at 5833 Bellows Lake Road, Lake Ann, Mich.

FROM EMU/Ypsilanti - approximately 255 miles
US-23 north and continue on I-75. Take US-10 west / M-115 west. Turn right (north-west) on M-115 toward Cadillac. Turn right (north) on M-37 (north 13 Road). Turn left (west) onto US-31. Turn right (north) onto Lake Ann Road (CR-665). Turn right (east) on to Nofsger Road. Turn right (south) on to Bellows Lake Road.

FROM TRAVERSE CITY - approximately 15 miles
Take East Front Street west. East Front Street becomes North Long Lake / CR-610. Turn right (west) on to North Long Lake /CR-610. Turn Left (south) on to Bellows Lake Road.

For more information, contact Jacqui Frensley at 231.995.1750 or jfrensley@emich.edu.