Art Biz with Liz: Learning About Accessibility

This year, I have the pleasure of taking CARILLON 150: Performance, a two-credit course for non-SMTD students. If you aren’t sure about what the carillon is, check out a great piece that another arts, ink. columnist wrote about “the bells above campus.” You’ll hear about my experiences with the carillon throughout the semester, but I’d like to share about how the course has exposed me to not only new repertoire and performers, but also lessons on accessibility.

Earlier this month from October 3-6 was the 61st Annual Organ Conference. This was my first time hearing about the conference, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The conference featured a series of lectures and recitals put on by student performers, guest artists/lecturers, and the Organ Department faculty. I knew there would be conversation surrounding the music of the organ, harpsichord, and carillon, but I had no idea how diverse the repertoire and lecture topics would be. As part of my class, I was tasked with watching several of the carillon events at this year’s virtual conference, which included a talk on accessibility by Laura Marie Rueslåtten, a lecture on recent Polish carillon music by Dr. Monika Kaźmierczak, and a faculty recital by Dr. Tiffany Ng (with an introduction by Dr. Sile O’Modhrain).

The faculty recital by Dr. Tiffany Ng and Dr. Sile O’Modhrain was called “Not Sighted, but Visionary: Music by Blind Carillonist-Composers.” Truthfully, I had never spent much time thinking about this topic before watching the recital, but it was interesting to learn about Braille music and the different tools used to create and work with braille music notation. Historically, it has often taken a lot of time and resources to transcribe music to braille, but advances are being made to create tools for creating braille music scores. In keeping with the topic of accessibility for the visually impaired, the performance aspect of the recital began with an audio description was included, describing the setting and what was going on in the video. The music ranged widely in genre and time period.

Another event I watched as part of the Annual Organ Conference was “Using Cognitive Accessibility to Improve Clear Communication,” a talk given by Laura Marie Rueslåtten. The idea of sensory overload in arts venues was new to me, as was the emphasis on being clear and direct when engaging with different kinds of neurodivergent experiences. The lecture not only made me reconsider how to make music facilities more accessible, but how we can be more accommodating in our everyday conversations. With this week being invisible disabilities week, I’d like to end with the takeaway that we should continuously strive to grow and improve in the ways we communicate and approach situations, which can help us become better artists, friends, and people.

Art Biz with Liz: Thank you, arts, ink.

At the start of my freshman year, I picked up a pamphlet at Festifall that called for new arts, ink. and [art] seen bloggers. I didn’t really know what Arts at Michigan was at the time, but based on the pamphlet, writing for arts, ink. sounded like a cool thing to do. I was in search of ways to maintain my connection with the arts while simultaneously looking for opportunities to write for fun. I went ahead and submitted my application along with a few writing samples. Not long after, I received the email that I had been selected to become an arts, ink. columnist. In October, I met Joe—the Arts at Michigan Program Director—for an orientation meeting and have been writing for arts, ink. ever since.

A lot has changed since then. If I ever need a reminder, I simply take a walk around campus, as there’s always some new building under construction in Ann Arbor. During my first week of school in 2018, I opened a bank account and got a debit card at the PNC bank on the corner of South U and East U. The branch has relocated, its old building torn down to make room for yet another skyrise. As another example, I previously wrote an arts, ink. post about a boba place that has since been replaced by another one. In fact, the majority of bubble tea shops in Ann Arbor—Unitea, Quickly, Tea Ninja—didn’t exist then. The opening of Chatime and Coco’s was a big deal my freshmen year, whereas now it seems like there’s a new boba place every few months (that’s a big of an exaggeration, but you get the point).

My friends and I went to the grand reopenings of the U-M Museum of Natural History, the Union, and more. I stood in line for a slice of Joe’s Pizza a few weeks after it opened, watched Espresso Royale switch to a different coffee place, and mourned the close of China Gate after its thirty-two-year run in Ann Arbor. Last year, while on a walk around a quiet campus due to a year of online learning, I found the sidewalk in front of the School of Kinesiology Building free from the fencing that had closed it off throughout my undergraduate career up until that point.

A lot of things have changed about me, too. The clubs I participate in, the types of classes I’ve taken, and the people I’m friends with have all changed over time. My part-time job has changed each year as a result of what new opportunities arose. Even what my average weekend looks like has undergone changes. All these things were undeniably affected by an unprecedented pandemic, but what I want to do and who I want to be have been influenced by what I’ve learned and experienced throughout college.

As I think about how quickly graduation is approaching, arts, ink. has been a unique way to document little moments in time. I look at my writing—most of which makes me cringe—and it makes me think about everything I’ve experienced over the past few years. I can look back on the time I braved the polar vortex or the semester I took an acting class. I can reflect on my experiences in RC Singers, Women’s Glee Club, and RC Players. The arts have given me a way to reflect upon my identity as well as topics such as race and class, and arts, ink. enables me to put such reflections into words. This year, I’ll enjoy documenting more artsy activities and memories, like my adventures with novella writing or learning how to play the carillon.

In the meantime, I’d like to say thank you to those who have been with me on this arts, ink. journey, and thank you, arts, ink.

Art Biz with Liz: Assimilated

Happy Friday, Arts, Ink. Readers!

In case you aren’t tired of seeing my amateur paintings yet, here is one I created today. I’m not sure of the title yet, but I’ve been thinking of calling it “Assimilated.”

I hope you are able to take a moment for yourself as the semester winds down. If you’re looking for something to do, I highly recommend turning towards art – such as painting – for stress relief. As evident by my work, you don’t need to have experience or artistic ability to enjoy it!

Art Biz with Liz: Shaping Creative Lineage

This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending an event called “Shaping Creative Lineage: A Poetry Reading + Writing Workshop with Carlina Duan.” The event, presented by Multi Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA), featured Asian-American poet and educator Carlina Duan. While I hadn’t read one of Ms. Duan’s poems until this past year, it was wonderful to hear her read from her collections I Wore My Blackest Hair (Little A, 2017) and Alien Miss (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2021). The event was a great opportunity to learn more about what inspired her poems and have a conversation on writing about our own experiences.

In I Wore My Blackest Hair, Duan’s poems tackle topics related to ancestry, identities, and belonging. They also reflect on themes of racial consciousness and growing up. Duan’s second collection of poems, Alien Miss, reflects on the experience of growing up as a diasporic, bilingual daughter of immigrants, introducing tales of both love and survival. It was exciting to hear from both of these collections, especially since Alien Miss came out just this year.

I promise this blog post isn’t just an advertisement, though my excitement may come off as such. The event made me consider what it means to write about our identities. It also encouraged me to reflect on the power our creative action holds. For artists like Duan, the question of responsibility is raised. What pressures and influences do we have in creating art when existing representation may be limited? For art so language-based, how can we create care and active thinking in the language we use within our communities? These questions raise more questions regarding what we owe to ourselves and our own vulnerability.

While I still enjoy it, early literature of Asian Americans is often wrapped around imagery of chopsticks and white rice. These concepts alone don’t capture the complexity that is the human experience, and people like Duan are disrupting some of these images through their art. I was impressed with how she uses poetry as an expansion of historical archives, infusing her words with other texts and lineages. When it came to “creative lineage,” however, I was a little confused by what she meant. I assumed it must refer to our ancestral line, the history that gave way to who we are today. I learned that creative lineage is not just our ancestors, but the people who inspire you. These individuals could be people who came before you, but it can also be your friends.

To generate discussion on the topic during the event, Duan raised several questions: Who are you accountable to? Who lives in your creative lineage? Who are the thinkers, makers, and people who you carry with you each time you enter a room for solace, support, community? When I sit down to write, I often consider myself alone with my thoughts. But that’s not necessarily true. When I write, there are often a chorus of people in the room with me, hundreds of memories and experiences impacting who I am and what I create. Creative lineage is talking about these people as well as the spaces I live in and am descended from.

I’ve discussed my unfamiliarity with poetry before on Arts, Ink. I generally consider myself a beginner when it comes to interpreting and writing poetry; however, I still hold an appreciation for the medium it provides in exploring the complexities of identity, emotions, and experiences we hold. I also believe the lessons and questions raised in Duan’s workshop—including the concept of creative lineage—can be applied to all kinds of art, not just poetry. Moving forward, I’d like to consider this idea of creative lineage in my own work. Perhaps you will, too.

Art Biz with Liz: Paint Night

Hello, Arts, Ink. readers!

Last week, I shared a painting of fireflies on a summer night. I’m not very good at painting, but I enjoyed the activity enough to want to do it again! This time, I suggested a paint night with some of my housemates. This blog post is coming to you late as we just finished our pieces.

Despite living under the same roof, my housemates and I rarely spend quality time together. It was great, then, to schedule a “paint night” on our Google calendars and make it official. One of my housemates decided to try painting a face, while another housemate and I followed along with a Bob Ross tutorial. My painting turned out much differently from the expected result, but it was nice to create memories doing something creative and relaxing.

Paintings in progress
Our finished pieces (mine is on the bottom)