Looking Forward: Mentality Magazine

Happy Saturday!

We are rapidly approaching the end of the semester which means I only have a couple of posts left. This week I’m posting a day late because my organization, MUSIC Matters, held our biggest event of the year. If you attended SpringFest day festival or the night concert featuring Hippo Campus – I just want to say thank you. We all appreciate it so much and hope that you enjoyed it. 

Moving on, this week we are talking about Mentality Magazine! I had the opportunity to speak to Liz Hoornstra, the current editor-in-chief of the publication. She explained that the magazine aims to do two main things: 1. Create a sense of community for its members and 2. Destigmatize mental health through writing. As someone who has been focusing on taking control of my mental health for the past year, I was really excited to learn more about how the magazine has done this and how others can support their mission!

Mentality Magazine typically publishes digital issues, with a printed copy done once a semester. This semester marks an exciting milestone for the organization: 10 printed publications (and 5 years of being an org on campus!). Some of the topics they’ve been focusing on most recently deals with the impact that the pandemic and racial injustice towards the BIPOC and AAPI communities have had on peoples’ mental health. This follows in their larger commitment to diversifying the magazine’s staff and writing focuses, including highlighting marginalized voices in mental health discussions. I was excited to hear that they’re taking on these topics so directly, as they have affected us all in different ways over the past year and are, in many ways, directly tied to some of the most widespread mental struggles on campus. 

Mentality Magazine has also recently partnered with steps wellness, “the mental wellness platform for college students”. The platform helps connect students to licensed therapists, provides safe, private spaces for them to have therapy sessions in person or through video call, and allows them to share and read about their peers’ experiences with mental health. This is something that I found incredibly important. Especially in college living situations with many roommates and with most therapy sessions being virtual right now, it can be hard to find a space where you can talk about your struggles without worrying if others will overhear or barge in. This partnership shows that Mentality Magazine is really committed to helping students at every level of their mental wellness journey.

Liz also explained to me that COVID has sparked some important conversations regarding mental health equity and accessibility, things that people were sometimes skittish to talk about before.

“We welcome any and all members to Mentality, but we also are very open that mental health is not a topic that you can be apolitical about and we have to recognize that, holding a space in the mental health community here at Michigan means that there are certain times when we cannot stay silent. I hope that going forward, that is something that we are prioritizing.”

If you’re interested in getting involved in Mentality Magazine, you are welcome to join at any point! They look for writers all through the year, so you don’t have to join at the beginning of the year or semester. You can visit mentalitymagazine.org and fill out the contact form and a member of their exec team will get back to you about the next steps. If you don’t have enough time to be a writer, or that’s not your personal skill set, you can still do other things to help support the magazine and its important mission on campus! Reading and sharing articles is so important – de-stigmatization can’t happen without conversation. 

That’s all from me this week! Thank you so much for reading and I will be back next week with my last post of the semester featuring a capella group 58 Greene!

Stay safe & stay well,

Lucy

Looking Forward: Thus Spoke Ann Arbor

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to Feiran Li, President of Thus Spoke Ann Arbor and Director of their upcoming show. 

Thus Spoke is a Chinese drama group that typically hosts two shows per year. The winter show is bigger than the fall, usually involving 20-25 people compared to the 10 or so earlier in the year. This year, however, Thus Spoke has opted to perform only one show due to COVID. This show has a staff that is mixed remote and in-person, with weekly testing and masking/distancing policies on the Ann Arbor campus. This testing regimen is something that Feiran is quite proud of, explaining that they asked their members to participate in weekly testing a bit earlier than the university did. The show has also moved from being an in-person event in Mendelssohn to being completely virtual. 

Although they have found a successful model to publish the show despite the pandemic, Feiran told me that he misses the in-person audience interaction. This has been a theme across student organizations that I’ve spoken to this year. Just being able to perform together in-person is not quite enough; the audience participation and reaction is half of the performance. The energy of the performers buildsoff of the audiences’ cheers, and comments on Zoom or YouTube are just not the same, especially when the performance has to be recorded prior to the premiere. 

Next year, Thus Spoke is looking forward to returning to in-person meetings and performances, hoping that the distance of this year will help them appreciate the benefits of being together even more than before. If you’re interested in getting involved in Thus Spoke, there are many opportunities! They tend to recruit in the Fall and Winter semesters, and you can keep updated with what they’re doing by subscribing to their YouTube channel, liking their Facebook page, or reaching out via their Maize Page. They also incorporate new members into their productions, so you could have the opportunity to be a part of one of their shows your first year in the organization!

That’s all from me this week! Thanks so much for reading. 

Stay safe,

Lucy

Looking Forward: BlueNote Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Happy Friday, everyone!

It’s another sunny day here in Ann Arbor. I don’t know about you, but that automatically boosts my mood – plus it’s practically the weekend already!

This week I had the opportunity to chat with Cinderella Ksebati, Co-Founder and Music Director of BlueNote Vocal Jazz Ensemble. As another fairly new organization on campus, I was excited to learn more about how they have adapted this year and what their upcoming plans for performances were like. Let’s dive right in!

Founded in 2019, BlueNote Vocal Jazz Ensemble aimed to help fill the void of limited opportunities for students to participate in vocal jazz on campus. The group consists of both undergraduate and graduate students, including a mix of SMTD and other schools. They were able to perform on campus at the SMTD’s “Collage” event, as well as a few off-campus opportunities before campus shut down in early 2020 due to COVID-19. This hasn’t stopped Cinderella and her team, though. They are still working just as hard to “revitalize the attending-a-jazz-concert experience and in 2020-2021”.

“We are thinking, okay, how do we present this using technology, using what we have at our disposal, and continuing to make art, create jazz music, and start to get people engaged with this genre. And bring it back to the forefront of the arts as is such an American tradition, we want to bring it back and take bits and pieces of those traditions honoring and paying homage to all the vocal jazz greats. Of the groups like, for example, Take Six, New York Voices, so some of our program for the upcoming project that we’re working on, “Let’s Go to the Movies”, encompasses a couple of those things. We are mixing the media, we’re doing a 30-minute jazz film and we’re using all vocal jazz repertoire.”

To prepare for that project, BlueNote has been meeting via Zoom 2-3 times a week and using an online audio workstation that allows them to hear a little bit of the “blend” that vocal groups work so hard to achieve in performances. They have also incorporated a few individual, in-person rehearsals, following county and university guidelines. 

Though Cinderella does miss in-person performances, she notes that there have been some interesting developments in vocal jazz, at least in BlueNote, that she hopes will continue after COVID. Specifically, adding more storytelling into their performances is something she has really enjoyed. 

“It won’t necessarily be a film next year, who knows, but I certainly think that that is going to be changing some things and just in terms of our passions of the group members.”

Check out their most recent YouTube video above, performing “Walkin My Baby Back Home”.

BlueNote’s newest project, a short jazz film titled “Let’s Go to the Movies”, will premiere in April. You can stay up to date on their upcoming events by following their Instagram and subscribing to their YouTube channel. Lastly, keep in mind that the group holds auditions every semester, so definitely keep an eye out this Fall if you’re interested in singing!

That’s all from me this week! 

 

Stay safe,

Lucy

Looking Forward: This Week at the UMMA + New Interviews Soon

Happy Friday, Arts, Ink readers!

After a brief intermission, we will be back in action next week. I’ve spent this week reaching out to many exciting and diverse student organizations to learn more about how they’re handling the semester, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned so far. 

In the meantime, I thought I would spend this week highlighting some events the UMMA is putting on this week that I found especially exciting.

If you’re a fan of spotify collaborative playlists and/or how art and music intersect, check out UMMA’s jukebox. Through that link you can fill out a form to suggest songs that pair with two of the museum’s newest art pieces. As someone who has always enjoyed interdisciplinary work, I found this project very interesting and I’m excited to see the results!

The UMMA is also putting together a virtual event called “The Adjacent Possible” on Feb. 18th at 8PM. They describe it as “[mixing] music performance, storytelling, and technology that converts the audience into an orchestra. The project culminates in the recording of an orchestral piece – the first and last ever to be performed.” If you need to transport yourself for a little while from the stress of schoolwork or job searches, definitely check it out – it seems like a really unique event. Pre-registration is required, so make sure you confirm ahead of time!

That’s all from me today. Check back next week for an interview with the co-presidents of Relevé – they had some really interesting points to make about the creative process and COVID!

Stay safe!

Lucy

Looking Forward: EnspiRED

Happy Friday, everyone!

Ashley King, Vice President of EnspiRED

We are back to our regularly scheduled content. This week I spoke with Ashley King, the Vice President of EnspiRED, to learn more about how they are adapting to the restrictions that COVID-19 has brought. This was a special interview, as Ashley is not only a talent and joy to speak with, but one of my good friends from high school. I was excited to learn more about the organization that she has fallen in love with.

In a normal year, EnspiRED is best-known for their annual fashion show with proceeds going to a charity they choose each year. Each show has a theme that is tied together through the outfits on the runway, the visuals that accompany the show, and even the wardrobes of those working the event. One of the most recent themes, astrology, was a personal favorite of Ashley. 

During the past year, EnspiRED has obviously had to adjust much of what they do in light of COVID. They can no longer host their fashion show in-person, as it can attract hundreds in attendance, but they are finding ways to fit what they usually do into this new world of COVID. 

I also asked Ashley about how she interprets the intersection of arts and fashion. She told me that to her, fashion is an art.

Current E-board for EnspiRED

“You watch a Marc Jacobs, or a Vera Wang, or anybody’s fashion show and you’re like, wow, it must have taken some ingenuity to put this together, or a really creative mind to come up with that. I very much feel that fashion is in our forum because not everybody can, like, pick up some fabric and make something that everybody wants, and that’s from high fashion to fast fashion. There’s an art to all of it.”

I couldn’t agree more – and the energy that has to go into a fashion show is way beyond just designing the clothes. The staging, the lighting, the music, the makeup, the hair, all add to the concept and sells the experience. 

If you want to get involved with EnspiRED, be sure to follow their Instagram account so that you can stay up-to-date on their upcoming events. Modeling and volunteer opportunities are also available most years, so be on the lookout for those. Lastly, their e-board will be opening up applications soon to lead the organization next year. Ashley’s advice? “Brush up on your interview skills.” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of one of the top fashion organizations on campus?

That’s all from me this week! Come back next week for more about the arts on campus this semester. 

Stay safe & stay healthy!

-Lucy

Making the Most of Second Semester

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know it’s been a long week (even with Monday off) so pat yourself on the back for making it through. Whether your semester seems like it will be a breeze or your hardest one yet, remember to be kind to yourself and find moments for celebration. 

A new semester means a fresh start in many ways, but some people can feel trapped in the extracurricular activities they committed to in the first semester. I wanted to take some time to remind you that most student organizations gladly welcome new members during the second semester. MUSKET is producing a show, Basement Arts is partnering with Blank Space Workshop to produce new work, and many performance groups are holding auditions, just to name a few of the opportunities this semester. 

Even if you don’t have the time or interest in fully joining these organizations, I encourage you to attend their events as much as possible. Not only will it bring some joy into your life and introduce you to new groups and artistic expressions, it will also help support these student groups through what is sure to be another strange semester. With most of their performances being virtual, along with classes, attending these events shows that we still support these groups, even if we can’t cheer them on in person. 

So in the next couple of weeks, I challenge you to scroll through MaizePages and jot down a couple of organizations you’re interested in learning more about. Then, see what day they’ll be attending the virtual Winterfest and have some questions ready – maybe about the process for joining, or what their plans are for this semester. Finally, as you’re scrolling through Instagram or walking around campus and you see an advertisement for an upcoming arts event, add it to your calendar. That way you won’t forget, and when it comes along maybe you’ll put aside your homework for an hour or two to experience the creativity our campus has. Think of it as a new form of self-care. 

That’s all from me this week. Good luck to everyone in their classes!

– Lucy