Barn art: Fueling cultural tourism in Huron County

Just outside of Port Austin, artist and architect Catie Newell has turned a nearly 100-year-old barn in the middle of a wheat field into her latest project — an installation called “Secret Sky” that’s joining a growing roster of barns-turned-cultural attractions in Huron County.

The 39-year-old associate professor of architecture at U-M often plays with light and darkness in her projects.

With the help of locals, county officials and arts-focused Detroiters willing to make the 2½-hour drive up north, Port Austin is betting on cultural tourism as a key piece of its economic future as many small, rural communities throughout Michigan and the U.S. work to stay on the map.

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