UMMA Sculptures

Continuing with my art in landscape blogs, I thought it would be nice to talk about sculpture in the landscape that is on our campus.  Therefore I will focus on the sculptures outside of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.  There are seven outdoor sculptures outside of the museum.  There are six different artists with various backgrounds and impressive histories.

The first sculpture is called Shang by Mark di Suvero built in 1984-85 out of steel.  The sculpture can be interpreted as a Chinese character as well as a Japanese Shinto temple.  A lot of people swing on the moving chair.  The interactive quality of this sculpture makes Shang highly appealing.

Moving on to our second sculpture, there is Orion by Mark di Suvero in 2006 out of steel.  This structure is a play of angles and line seen from any side.  The artist painted the steel red to contrast with the blue sky.  This is the most pronounced structure surrounding UMMA.  People either love or hate this artwork.  I know of people who think this looks like people having sex, but I don’t see it.  Maybe you do.

The third sculpture is called Ternary Marker, by Beverly Pepper in 1988 out of cast bronze.  It is known as a “urban alter” that blends antiquity with modernism.  You can see it behind the museum next to Tappan Hall.

The fourth land art is called Stiff Box No. 12, by Lucass Samaras from 1971.  It appears to be an abstract form of intertwining forms, possibly resembling a figure.  Samaras was interested in contrasting the left side of the sculpture with soft forms to the right side with hard jagged movements.

Heading around the museum to the fifth sculpture we see Requiem by Erwin Binder.  It was made in 1988 out of bronze.  This piece is a memorial to the armed forces and Americans who have served for our country.

The sixth work is called Angry Neptune, Salacia, and Stride by Michele Oka Doner a UofM alumna.  This structure is made out of bronze and appears to be melting figures in dialog.

The last structure is called Daedalus by Charles Ginnever.  The title is after a Greek legend and is molded in the shape of a wind in flight.  Walk around it to get the full effect.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you enjoy your stroll around the museum soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

A November Vignette


November is that indeterminate blank of time caught between autumn and winter, reluctant to loosen its grasp on the light and warmth of autumn, but slipping inexorably, a reminder of time’s unyielding progression, towards winter. The scarlets and coppers and saffrons of September and October have long faded into brown, desiccated hulls fluttering and rattling in the wind. There was a period when the foliage, bright and plentiful, came flopping wetly down to plaster the pavement in little leaf-shaped cutouts every time it rained, or drifted, in a whirlwind of colour, to settle upon the lawn while the sun was still high.

But now the palette has changed. Browns and greys and beiges, muted by the haze of November, a name under which these colours fall. The sky, no longer piled with the cottony white cumulus of summer, settles into iron-grey blankets that lie low and flat and heavily across the sky. Trees are stripped to their skeletons, stems and stalks whisper and sigh, and humans begin to don garments in hues with such names as camel or charcoal or sepia or maroon, and they, too, adapt to the November landscape.

Rain, hanging in a cold, drizzly mist (or torrential downpours, as yesterday’s). Wind, stiff and dull, almost biting, but not enough so to be bitter. The sun weakens towards watery, when it shows. Breaths begin to mist first at night, then gradually during the day, some days.

Somewhere, a flock of crows has roosted, the black of their plumage invisible against the darkness, but their raucous conversation lasting well into the night. Sunsets slip closer, alighting unexpectedly earlier and earlier. Grey days bleed into one another, and November passes.

TV Flashback: Alias

YouTube is useful for many things such as procrastination, music appreciation, and most importantly, rediscovering old TV shows that you once were obsessed with. For me these shows have included Boy Meets World, Celebrity Mole (the one with Kathy Griffin), and more recently, Alias. Hopefully some of you watched Alias during its heyday (before Jennifer Garner left), but for those of you who missed out here is the basic premise: The main character, Sydney Bristow, is a graduate student by day and double agent by night who is trying to avenge the death of her fiancé.


The brainchild of J.J. Abrams (of Lost fame) is a spy thriller that will keep you constantly guessing. However, unlike other action shows, Alias doesn’t rely wholly on explosions and car chases to engage the audience. Rather, Alias is grounded in an intelligent and original plotline that is always unexpected. Though some of the dialogue/themes are slightly cheesy (i.e. Sydney’s painfully obvious daddy issues), Bristow’s character remains far more compelling than her film counterpart, Lara Croft.


For those of who you liked Lost (or didn’t, like me, and just like good TV) be sure to give this one a chance. It’s a far better option that watching reruns of the Jersey Shore.

On Fortnight and productive melancholy

Fortnight November Issue, cover art by Ubin Li

Not that December isn’t quite cold, forlorn, or capable enough of procuring a sea of dour expressions by its own wintry devices, but Fortnight Literary Press would like to further evoke your blasé mood by publishing an Emo Edition of the monthly journal.

Some might call it a literary misstep, a stylistic faux pas, to resurrect that blackened, overwrought contrivances of our darker years – the fantastic desolation accompanying the suburban adolescent life, the lamentations of unrequited first loves, the woe of middle-class. Not many pulled it off with Hamlet’s eloquence or had channeled deep-seated insecurities — the utter incapacity to be understood – through the flourish of iambic pentameter. Instead, Chuck Taylors and black lacquer sales soared while spirits plummeted by their own overemphasis, and suddenly boys and snugly-fit jeans were not mutually exclusive categories.

While the fashion industry capitalized on selling the look of the misunderstood, millions of pages of melancholic poetry sprung into being, which later with the onset of adulthood, was to be burned for fear of inadvertent discovery and immediate, uncontrollable judgment, or worse, sympathy on the part of the discoverer (who may or may not be a loved-one, an archenemy, or a posthumous biographer). The superb bonfire, the mass eradication of the evidence that might bring about shame, is while on one hand, somewhat impressive due to the scope of this phenomenon, is also rather depressing, ironically.

Melancholy has brought about quite a number of dazzling good poetry through the ages. Just take one Middle Ages or Renaissance literature class and that point is proven more than a dozen times by men with big names like Donne, Wyatt, Shakespeare, Spenser. Some of it can be overencumbered with extravagantly elaborate metaphors for that simple emotion of sadness, but some of it crystallizes the most potent and intricate depths of sorrow with such arresting lucidity, with such grace, that one can’t help but wish to have the means to articulate it so well.

For the month of December, we are imploring you to dig deep into your soul and your archives for material that may resemble an item belonging in that reductive category, Emo poetry. We ask you to submit to our humble, collegiate literary journal, funded by both the Undergraduate English Department and, at the risk of coming to terms with a self that you might not be proud of but whom was necessary.

And a note from the mouth of one of our editors:
If you’d like, take advantage of the rare opportunity to talk about your work by writing a 100-word commentary on the events leading up to your submission’s creation. Let readers begin to comprehend the incomprehensible despair that led to your triumph!

Deadline: December 1st.
Email your submissions to and visit us online at

Sue majors in Neuroscience & English and tends to lurk in bookstores.

A Reading at Last

It is a sad testimony to unlucky scheduling that tonight’s “Mark Webster Reading” is the first reading of any kind that I’ve been able to attend this semester. The reading featured two second-year MFA students, Alex Johnson and Nick Gaudio, who read selections from their work in poetry and fiction respectively. I really enjoyed this reading. Both authors brought their unique personalities to the reading and kept the audience engaged and entertained.

Johnson was introduced by a fellow MFA student who described his poetry as being “totally badass” in that it is “plain spoken and fearless.” I loved this description, because it was both personal and descriptive at the same time, plus it made the whole audience laugh.

Johnson began his reading by thanking several people who have influenced his life and work, then moved on to reading selections from a book, based on Charles Shulz’s “Peanuts” comic, that he is working on. The first poem he read was called “Charlie’s Blues in E Major.” This poem did a good job of establishing Johnson’s style. His poetry is written almost like prose, though more melodic, and his imagery is very direct and specific. His next poem was titled “Remnants,” and contained my favorite line from the reading: “They make the rooms swell with breath.” The imagery used in this line really reveals and embodies the emptiness being described in the poem.  Johnson then recited some poems that he vaguely categorized as being about death with a couple about his father. These poems held Spanish influences, both in the language and imagery, that I didn’t expect. It was a pleasant surprise to hear another element of his poetic style that his first few poems of the evening didn’t exhibit. He then recited a couple poems that he described as being about relationships, a poem dedicated to William Carlos Williams, and ended with a poem entitled “Tailpipe Blues.” Johnson didn’t just read “Tailpipe Blues,” he recited it almost like a song with influences of rap, hip-hop, and blues in his recitation. The way he ended his reading was totally unexpected, at least to me, and it was fun to hear a poet bring music so literally into his poem.

Nick Gaudio also began his reading with thanks (some of his thank-yous were quite humorous) to several people, and ended his acknowledgments by jokingly saying, “Thank you Alex Johnson for reading with me, but fuck you for giving me this cold.” Today was Gaudio’s birthday, so he chose to begin his reading with a couple poems that he wrote in the past. The first was called “How to Sell a Rocketship to a Feminist,” and the second was a prose poem. The bulk of his reading was from a story he began this week called “One Hundred Days of Thunder.” The story was split into “books,” and each of the books was like a vignette of a scene. The books worked together, and several of them picked up at about the same place that the one before had left off, but the breaks seemed to give each scene and interaction more space to play out – they emphasized the importance of what was happening at each moment in the story. In total, Gaudio read nine “books” from “One Hundred Days of Thunder.”

This was an extremely enjoyable reading. Each author presented his work with confidence and punctuated the serious with humor and surprise. Anyone interested can attend the next reading in the “Mark Webster Reading” series on Friday, December 3 at 7:00 pm in the U of M Museum of Art’s Helmut Stern Auditorium.

The Heidelberg Project

I am sure if you are interested in the arts and are reading this blog, then you are well aware of the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.  If any of you read that sentence and now your head is cocked to one side and your brows are furrowed, I am pleased today is the day you stumbled upon the Heidelberg Project.

Now, I was discussing last week the importance of art within the landscape and I left by saying I would bring you examples of landscape art in my future blogs.  Well, I am a woman of my word, and I am happy to introduce landscape art through the Heidelberg Project.

To give you some background, a man named Tyree Guyton and his Grandfather in 1986 started the Heidelberg Project.  Guyton grew up on Heidelberg Street as a child, experiencing the race riots that devastated the city and left many homes abandoned.  In attempts to turn the neighborhood into something the people in the community could benefit from, Guyton worked with his Grandfather turning the empty homes into his canvas.  Using found materials and paint from the area; he began decorating the urban landscape.  His artwork transformed a deserted area into an arena for art and thought.

By using recycled goods and artistic freedom, Guyton set out what he attempted to do even after his work was bulldozed by the city in 1991 and 1999.  After both of these events, he continued to create artwork on Heidelberg Street.  He brought life back into an area where the light was removed and provided people with hope by using the landscape in a friendly way.

His artwork is a masterpiece in my opinion and marries the idea of art and land quite perfectly.  You can actually find a piece of his artwork in the University of Michigan Museum of Art, but experiencing the project on Heidelberg Street is the best experience of all.