Missing Noah’s Ark: an ekphrastic poem adapted from the painting “The Flood”

I go under.

Water rushing into my ears,

bubbling out of my nose,

eye sockets overflowing with its saltiness

my body sinks


As the black dye pinned to my skin

for the past 43 years

seeps off

dissipating into


creating a dark, hazy atmosphere

above my heavy head

My body, feather-light, floats lower,


I become the black

clunky dye,

drifting higher,


to the surface then


I am lies

contorted truths of passion and empathy for our family’s downfall.

I am greed

thirsting, devouring, licking clean all the wealth of my life.

I am anger

slapping, spitting, singeing, done to those I know best.

Tunneling down

ricocheting against the green waters,

I become numb to my senses.

I see cloaked darkness,

hearing the grain of dust fall in,

tasting the liquid that consumes my molecular structure.

I hit a wall.

I think my back feels

the splintered wood of a boat.

-Erika Bell

Debriefing (In)Justice.

(In)Justice. I read this as, “all justice is unjust because the system in which we have justice is flawed. It even perpetuates what we would call ‘injustice’; in fact, justice means nothing now because our society has corrupted the very linguistic notion of ‘justice’.”

But I think that was just me.

I went to the Word of Mouth Story Slam event on Thursday and was met with differing opinions on what this theme meant. I contributed anonymously via ‘my story in a sentence’: “Hither and thither: to revolt learn read become more, but less unbe burn unlearn–Thither and hither.” It was supposed to be a Joycean commentary on how concepts are cyclical and that we take, for example, injustice to incite revolution and learning and helping “progress” society by working through mistakes. To do so we must unlearn all that we’ve been taught, burn all that we’ve loved, and keep on pacing back and forth.

Because what we fight for today might not be what we fight for tomorrow.

All the people that presented were white, arguably heterosexual, of (at least now) upper middle class standing, arguably cisgendered. I’m not trying to say that injustice can’t happen to people of privilege, since that is whom the system was made by and working for, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The emcee framed the event by placing it within the context of MLK day and Black History Month. What came as a result were talks of upcharges on meals, inner greediness, and sharing stories that weren’t their own. At one point people made fun of the prison system, criminals, religious identities, and intersectionality.

The space was unjust for those that were there. The space got unsafe for potential stories and potential learning. The space had so much potential.

Having the event at Work Gallery was the best decision. This was an aesthete’s version of heaven. The band, The Good Plenty, played by the entrance and welcomed you into a space that was filled with white, blank walls and a few pieces of artwork. The light reflected off the white tin ceiling into a spectrum of color. Upon moving to the heart of the space, cheese and crackers and punch and dessert lined the aisle way. My mouth was greeted with red pepper spread and goat cheese. Doubling back to view the entrance, my face saw the beauty of the band playing and the people mingling.

What was beautiful: the sense of community. In one story someone shared that what they needed most in their moment being unjustly treated was love, family, support, and community.

In this terrible world what else can we strive for?

It’s now that I realize that one thing I can do in my life is to strengthen my relationships. I can work harder at being there for my friends, to provide a stronger support network. I can try harder to not hate love and all the trouble and mess it causes. I can seek out new relations that will help fill the void that I feel as a (cough cough) modern subject. So even when the last story was shared, the last cracker eaten, the last note played, the last coat grabbed, I could feel that even if I didn’t enjoy the stories (or their messages) I could still come away with a new goal. I could change myself into someone who loves more. Who is positive more often. Who shares and listens to stories, with open ears, everyday.

A Little Nostalgia

With a new year beginning, feelings of nostalgia are bound to arise in place of past events, people, and art. As the years go by we are graced with new and upcoming artists and artwork that brings about change within how we view certain aspects of life and ourselves. With the start of a new year, it becomes a question of what will be created or discovered this year, that will completely trump anything we’ve ever seen before? What will challenge our views or enlighten our minds? Yet, there will always be a deep appreciation for what art has done to get us where we are today.

Take these photo sets for example:

School Break (Detroit)

Photo Credit: BoredPanda.com

A New York Minute

batmanpride.tumblr.comMacauley Culkin in Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkTom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got MailPatrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost

Photo Credit: PandaWhale.com

I loved these photographs because they elicit feelings of nostalgia for the past and greater times, especially when it comes the time for new beginnings. What I also loved was the artistic quality of them and coupling two eras of moments that are completely different from each other.

In art there should always be reverence for artistic history, and what got us to where we are today, but let’s also keep our minds open to whatever creativity can bring us in the future.


Living life is art. This theme should be apparent from my ramblings about staring at walls, going to concerts, and having epiphanies. But some moments in life aren’t just moments, they’re events. When people ask me, as I sit crazily out of my mind as an old retired professor, what you were doing on November 6th, 2012 I will answer: holding my breath, and then I’ll proceed to pass out and die.

Let me preface this with the fact that I’m not one for American politics. Everything about it is problematic, semi-unchangeable, and over-hyped. I say this as I read critique on Foucault, drink heinous amounts of coffee, and listen to indie music my red skinny jeans thrive in—take my word as you may. Strictly speaking, I don’t actively support most of what Obama or Romney had to say but in a loose way I wholeheartedly supported Obama. I support the symbol he is for Americans. I support that he sees other humans as people with “rights,” people who deserve to be “equal.” I support him in that he actively supports people who don’t have millions of dollars or even jobs.

Moments before his reëlection (umlaut because I can) I looked at the top fifty pictures of the Obamas. My friend and I almost burst out into tears caused by their sheer cuteness and adorableness. When my President plays peek-a-boo with a child, my heart stops. I played a mental reel of all he did, all he promised, all he didn’t do, all the things he said he wouldn’t do, all the things that happened in these four years. And when the magnificent Rachel Maddow told us the great news, I realized this was an event I could celebrate.

Grabbing my belongings and hopping on a bus (yes, visiting the friend on north campus) I tried picking a song that could fit this moment (I pick 212 by Azealia Banks for all of my moments, so this time was no different…), and I tried thinking beautiful thoughts to help commemorate it (feeling comfortable in not having to flee to Canada or protest everyday in the bitter cold)—all in all, I wanted to do cliché things. And thus I headed to the Diag.

And then I left the Diag.

And then I headed back to the Diag after finding friends.

This event, this moment of post-reëlection on the Diag was an event, it was art. I felt like I was a piece of metal, a stroke of a brush, a lone light bulb, and upside down urinal.

Let me explain.

No other space on campus has that many smiles. No other space on campus has that much racial “diversity”. No other space on campus has that many people simultaneously and spontaneously dancing. No other space on campus has that much, I have to say it, “hope”. No other space on campus has the feeling of that much accomplishment.  No other space on campus has ever heard the words “Obama” or “four more years” so much. No other space on campus was this space on campus.

When people ask what I did on November 6th, 2012 I won’t respond with: I went to class, I caught up with a friend, I waited in line for an hour, I drank coffee. I will say that I voted for Barack Obama who was then reëlected that same evening and that I had never felt as comfortable as I did in the four years that preceded it. That feeling I had, that was art.

Arts Ink Newbie

Do you see that? Right there in the distance? It’s long, creative, and full of potential. Oh you give up? It’s a new school year packed with art, culture, and writing here at the University of Michigan! I know, I’m boiling with excitement too!
Let me introduce myself. I’m Erika, a freshman here, and an aspiring writer with a passion for fashion and art culture. I came to U of M looking for an education where I could enhance my writing abilities and discover where I want to go with it. I’m undecided for now, but I know that my appreciation and love for fashion and writing will always drive where ever I want my career to end up.
Now let me be honest, I’m not an artistic genius, nor am I in the music or theater school with a masterful ear and eye for greatness. I’m simply a girl in love with our artistic world. I swoon over masterful pieces and bob my head when I hear greatness. I want to be that person who is able to communicate all that Ann Arbor, and the world has to offer in terms of art, but let’s be honest, i’m just a newbie. I’m going to be learning about this wonderful environment and falling more and more in love with it just like you will. I intend on growing as a writer and as a person that appreciates this artistic world we live in. So please, don’t hold my made up terminology and my “ooh so pretty” against me.
So let me guide you into the realm that most intrigues me, and what you will probably see me writing about week after week. I love Tumblr. I know, one of a billion, but seriously my most inspirational moments come from learning from other people about what they find beautiful in the artistic world. I love Ann Arbor. It’s beauty and its uniqueness is something so different to the state of Michigan, and I feel so inspired by the culture and diversity that I see here everyday. And finally, probably the majority of my posts will come from my randomness. One day I could be all about Italian culture, and the next I could be ranting on about the world’s need to purchase the remake of Carrie.
I’m an intense believer that the art that we create, and the various cultures that surround us are representations of our lives. I feel like we must embrace the beauty that we are surrounded by in order to really be satisfied.
I hope that my perspective on the Arts Ink blog gives you insight into your own journey to creativity because I’m on my own as well. We can grow together! But seriously, finding the fun in art, music, fashion, and culture is the most important lesson I want to be learned here. We all have our different interests and niches, but the enjoyment that comes from simply being more in touch with our creativity can only bring out the best in ourselves.

Anything I can do, you can do better

*sniff sniff*

This is my last official post for a while.  The school year is ending and I’ll be abroad next Fall in fabulous New Zealand.  I’ll try to send you guys updates on the foreign art scene once in awhile. I’m going to miss writing for arts,ink.  It’s a great job that has encouraged me to explore such fabulous things throughout the year.

I’m hoping to spend this summer not actually looking for new art, but creating it.  My muse has sadly been chained to a chair in horrendously orange corner of my mind for most of the school year to give me a chance to actually get my assignments done, but come Tuesday her constraints will rust and she’ll be able to burst free from prison (with more grace than Superman could ever muster).  I’m expecting to spend good portions of next week sitting in a corner of the Espresso on State St and just write.  I managed to spit out 50K words in Nov and am aiming to write at least 75K this summer.  (I could try my November pace, but my muse was so tired she actually willing donned those chains and has yet to return to that still as yet unfinished story)

I also am hoping to do at least one photo shoot and spend an hour a day on a mural I’ve wanted to get started on ever since last year.  Who knows if I’ll succeed (most of my New Years resolutions have gone up in smoke) but I’m willing to try and make this a productive summer.  I mean, playing Frisbee and going to Ben and Jerry’s almost every day is a great summer plan, but what will you have to show for it at the end?  100+ pictures, all so similar that your entire summer could fit on a single page in a scrapbook?  Trust me, having a completed work of art work will make you feel much for accomplished.

Thus I challenge you to create something this summer.  It can be a single poem, it can be a collage of leaves from every town you visit, or maybe you just produce a sketch book full of doodles.  Either way, I want to hear about it.  And look on the bright side, you get to actually cheat and do some of the work come the Fall semester cuz I won’t be here to know any better ^_~

So far well (for now).  May you have a great summer full of good times and good art.  I’m curious to see what you all create.

Your muse chainer,