Art Biz with Liz: Recycled Art and Letters

Last Thursday, I attended a “recycled letter crafting event” hosted by the Residential College’s Letters Forum and Eco Forum. What are forums? RC forums are student-initiated and student-run discussion groups that focus on a variety of subjects. The Eco Forum presents a space where students can discuss issues concerning the environment and how people relate to it, looking at topics such as sustainability, climate change, and more. Letter Forum, on the other hand, focuses on the art of letter writing, allowing students to discuss the history of letter writing, create mail, and connect with people around campus and the world as penpals. The two forums came together to combine their interests and create a fun event for RC students.

For the event, attendees created envelopes and recycled art from a variety of materials gathered prior to the Zoom meeting. After an introduction to the two forums and ideas for possible crafts to make, everyone in the Zoom meeting set forth on their own projects. After about twenty minutes or so, we regrouped and showed one another what we had worked on. People made all kinds of crafts, including wreaths made from leaves, envelopes constructed from scratch paper, and bookmarks composed of old sheet music.

Using a paper grocery bag, I made an envelope and a maple leaf craft. A slideshow presentation in the Zoom meeting showed instructions to make the envelope, and I followed a video online to create the maple leaf. For both projects, I cut squares out of the bag and folded them into various shapes. I wouldn’t quite call it origami, the art of paper folding, since I used scissors and a glue stick; however, these tools were the only things besides the brown paper bag that were needed to make the crafts.

Autumn is my favorite season, and students often host special events during it. While some of the typical campus events have been limited due to the pandemic, the Zoom event was an example of creativity that students exhibit in continuing to plan events and connect to one another. The event was perfect for fall, too; colorful leaves presented a unique medium for crafts, while the season itself served as inspiration for other art. I made a folded maple leaf, for example, because of my fascination with the change that takes place during autumn. I photographed it against the hues of yellows and reds on campus for this blog post.

Note: These pictures were taken outside of East Quad and the MLB prior to the issuing of the two-week stay-at-home order by Washtenaw County.

Study Hal: Week 23 – Chilly Weather

Have you noticed the temperature dropping? Hal has been studying for so long he didn’t even realize how far into the season we were! He went outside to help rake leaves, but between the cloudy sky and the blustering wind, he got too cold really quick! Lucky for Hal, he got a scarf that his cousin Fil knit him over the summer. Plus, it’s Michigan! All we have to do is wait a couple days and it’ll be back up to the 70s, right?

Are you somewhere where the temperature is dropping, or is it still balmy where you are? Hal would love to hear from folks all over, so drop us a comment below!

If this is your first time here, Hal is a U-M student studying remotely for this semester. He’s around every week with new experiences to share, so check out the Study Hal tag or come back next Tuesday to see more!

Study Hal: Week 20 – Grounding

As we enter week 5 of online classes, and with midterms lurking around the corner, saying Hal is stressed would be an understatement. In the before times, Hal would watch videos or scroll through pictures to unwind. But, now that all his classes are on a screen, he’s finding it better to take his breaks outside.

As part of his anxiety management strategy, Hal spends 5 minutes doing grounding exercises every day. He spends this time observing the world around him, from the ground beneath his feet to the sounds in the distance. Hal said his favorite part of his practice today was finding a yellowing leaf on the lawn. Bright red maple leaves are his favorite part of the season, and this is just a sign we’re one step closer to those beautiful fall colors. Did you notice anything in the world today that cheered you up?

In case you’re just tuning in, Hal is a student at U-M who’s been remote from his childhood home all semester. He’s back every week to share his thoughts and experiences, so check out the Study Hal tag if you want to see more!

Study Hal: Week 19 – Spooky Season

Happy first day of fall, everyone! Hal has been looking forward to this day for a very long time, because he finally feels ready to decorate for Halloween! Hal’s not usually spirited about holidays. In this weird year, though, I think he’s happy to take all the excitement and comforting nostalgia he can. Can you tell what nostalgia-inducing movie Hal’s watching to get in the spirit?

Speaking of nostalgia, what things have you found surprisingly comforting this season? For me, it’s been candy corn and pumpkin pie. Hal’s talking about doing some baking if he can find the time. Maybe I’ll ask him to try his hand at a pie or two!

For those just tuning in, Hal is a U-Mich student staying remote for the term! He’s back every week from his childhood home to share his experiences, good or bad. Check out the Study Hal tag to see the rest of the series and come back next Tuesday for more!

An Autumn in University

in a flurry,

before anyone notices,

the leaves begin to fall 

crunch under the boots

perfect jumps to get them right under the sole,

for that satisfying crunch

sweaters in the morning that transform

 into tees by mid-day

silent classrooms of students taking exams

papers flipping, pencil scratches being made,

teachers walking down the aisles,

the tension could be cut with a knife

waiting for the time to finish, and also to keep on going,

for that one problem that seems unsolvable

but is on the brink of the mind,

almost teetering on the exit 

perhaps it will drip into the paper

perhaps not, either way

exams are forgotten as soon as they are handed in

can’t even remember a question a friend is asking about

 in the midst of 

going home and 

apple cider and 

donuts and 

hayrides,

nothing matters when you’re happy and the 

feeling of autumn

envelopes you in its embrace.

The Joys of the Fall Season

For some, saying goodbye to the summer season is a difficult thing to do. For others, welcoming the fall season means preparing for a period of bright colors, cool weather, and a series of holidays. From a personal standpoint, I rejoice at the first sign of “sweater weather.”

Fall, otherwise known as autumn, is full of great weather, good food, and fun activities. The season is perfect for taking a visit to a cider mill, spending time with friends around the campfire, or simply enjoying the scenery. Sunsets in the fall present a brilliant orange hue unlike any other, and the darker, cooler starry nights often seem magical. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows cover maple trees, allowing you to gaze at an artistic masterpiece just by looking out the window. Fall is a great time to take a walk outside, as there’s something satisfying about walking under a canopy of fall foliage and hearing the sound of crunching leaves underfoot. In addition to providing natural beauty, the season presents an opportunity for growth, as fall brings a new school year and new experiences.

Fall is a busy time, packed full of events and activities to look forward to. Holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas mean plenty of celebrating. There’s also a galore of fun things to do, as the fall season is a great time to go camping, hiking, and more. Seasonal activities such as picking apples, attending a college football game, or conquering a corn maze are great ways to make memories with loved ones. Furthermore, there are opportunities to carve pumpkins, go on a hayride, and share delicious food with family. Along the topic of food, there’s plenty of it, including an abundance of pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes. In addition to traditional seasonal delicacies, there’s apple and pumpkin everything, including that pumpkin spiced latte you love to post about on Snapchat.

Another wonderful thing about fall is the weather. Cold drizzles indicate that it’s the perfect time to light a fire in the fireplace and snuggle up with a cup of tea or hot cider. The words “cute,” “comfy,” and “cozy” come to mind when breaking out the suede boots and fuzzy blankets, as the first slight chill in the air calls for donning comfy sweaters and scarves in preparation for the cooler temperatures. Instead of worrying about drowning in sweat or getting a sunburn, you have the chance to decide which oversized jacket or flannel to wear next.

On a deeper level, fall serves as a reminder of the changing nature of life. During this time, the life cycle of many plants finishes or turns into the other stages, with the dead leaves on the ground disintegrating and turning into part of the soil. The change in scenery presents an opportunity to reflect on the impermanence of things, with the need for us to continuously grow and embrace the present. As such, fall is a great time to think about what we are thankful for. With so many different holidays and activities, it is perfect for cherishing and spending time with loved ones. Overall, fall gives a sense of comfort, fun, and reflection that makes it a truly unique and enjoyable season.