Looking Forward: Writer to Writer

Hey arts, ink readers!

I hope exam season is treating you well and you’re finding ways for self-care in the midst of all of it. This week, I spoke with Aylin Gunal, Editor-in-Chief for Writer-to-Writer. I asked her about the publication, how the organization has adjusted to this semester, how she perceives creativity on campus this semester, and how students can get involved. It was a wonderful conversation I’m excited to share with you all!

If you don’t already know, Writer to Writer is a student publication that began in the Minor in Writing program. The twice-yearly collection is open to students across campus and encourages multi-modal writing submissions (videos, photo essays, etc.). The organization’s staff is made up of students, many of whom are in the Minor in Writing program, though others are welcome. 

Thanks to technology, not a ton has changed for Writer to Writer this semester. Aylin told me that they’ve been pretty successful adjusting their regular programming to be online, including their weekly meetings. Additionally, they’ve begun to incorporate more events like writer’s workshops, which have served as community-builders within the organization. This has been especially important, as Aylin realized how valuable the small chat before meetings and between discussions was once it was significantly reduced due to zoom. In order to address this, they’ve been incorporating more intentional community-building activities this semester, including a minor-wide book exchange for the holiday season! Although it’s not quite the same as hanging out in North Quad every week, it’s a way for writers to expand their skills and make friends during this crazy year. 

When I asked Aylin how she saw creativity on campus adjusting this semester, she told me that she really missed the chance encounters that being on campus in typical semesters allows. You can walk through the Diag and see a group of students playing handmade instruments, pass the art museum and see a new exhibit, or walk by a pillar filled with fliers and learn about an acapella concert happening that weekend. Now, the information you get is much more based on following the right people or being on the right newsletters, which can limit what you’re exposed to. Hopefully, however, we find ways to bring some of these simple reminders of “normalcy” back to campus next semester. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with Writer to Writer, you can submit your work to their blog or publication here. If you’re interested in being on the staff, you can email writer-to-writer@umich.edu and attend the next weekly meeting. You can also stay up to date with their activities, including a soon-to-be-announced campus-wide writing competition, by following their Facebook or Instagram pages. 

That’s all from me this week! Good luck to everyone on finals and remember to take some time to take care of yourself! I’ll technically be on hiatus until classes return but keep an eye out… you may get a special post or two 🙂

-Lucy

Looking Forward: MUSIC Matters

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

I hope you’ve been getting through the week alright – we’re practically on break already! Today I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about MUSIC Matters, a student organization on campus that I am fortunate enough to be co-president for this year. 

MUSIC Matters’ mission is to utilize the unifying power of music to drive social impact in the community. This is usually achieved through a variety of events each year, including local talent showcases, battle of the band competitions, and our capstone April event, SpringFest, which features live music, food trucks, student organizations, corporate activations, and more. In addition to these events, MUSIC Matters spearheads three of their own social ventures: the CoMMunity Partnership grant program, the Michigan Overnight Experience for Detroit-area highschoolers and the Big Thinkers Scholarship.

In response to the context of the past few months, MUSIC Matters has adjusted much of its programming. Over the summer, we made donations to the Henry Ford Hospital and to a campaign through another student organization, Heal Move Shift, to help first responders during the COVID Pandemic. In support of the protests against police- and government-sanctioned violence against BIPOC, they arranged a benefit concert and donated the proceeds to the Detroit Justice Center. They have also pivoted our local talent events to be virtual, utilizing Instagram Live to stream these performances. As for SpringFest, the MUSIC Matters team is working extremely hard to make it the best it can be while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. Stay tuned for updates by following our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. 

If you want to get involved in MUSIC Matters, you can still join! Go to our website, then under the “About Us” title go to the “Get Involved” tab. Here, you can find the application for 2020-2021, as well as check out more information on each of the committees and initiatives. 

That’s all for this week! Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week (even though it may look a little bit different this year) and find some time to reset. 

 

Stay well + stay safe!

Lucy

Looking Forward: Shapiro Design Lab

Hello, arts, ink readers!

I know it’s been a stressful week for many of us, between election results and many people moving back home during the stay-at-home order. I hope that you are all able to find a way to relax this weekend and perform some rituals of self-care. Do a face mask, drink some tea, go on a run, or make a nice dinner for yourself. You deserve it. Beyond that, I hope that this article can provide a space for you to think about something else for a few minutes, easing your stress even just a little bit. So, without further ado, let’s get into this week’s conversation. 

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

I had the pleasure of speaking with Erica Ervin, Technology & Media Production Specialist at the Shapiro Design Lab. What is the Design Lab, you might ask? Erica describes it as “an engaged learning community focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and peer to peer learning and teaching that offers a variety of spaces and tools for everyone on campus.” It’s located on the first floor of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library (or the UGLi, as you may know it better) and houses a variety of tools like 3D printers, a letterpress, and equipment for recording and graphic or video editing. There is even a repurposed vending machine that distributes current student works, like poetry, small 3D prints, stickers, and more!

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

 

As someone who has used the Design Lab myself, I want to stress that the value of this resource is not just in the physical tools they provide, but in the incredibly knowledgeable and energetic staff as well. If you have a creative idea but you’re not sure where to start to make it a reality, chances are the Design Lab staff can help you. They can provide consultations for students, staff, faculty, and the community on projects ranging from community citizen science projects to converting physical media to be digitally accessible to storytelling, including podcasts. 

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

Given the changing nature of creativity and collaboration on campus, the staff at the Design Lab have been trying to gauge the needs of campus right now and how they can best provide assistance. Although their main workshop and PIE spaces (standing for prototype, invent, explore) are closed right now, they offer virtual consultations for many types of projects and can help direct you to where physical tools may be accessible right now. Additionally, their media production rooms are currently available to reserve for individual use, with the recording microphones being quarantined between users. The staff can also help you make the most of your own recording equipment, including best practices for conducting and recording interviews via video call. 

Erica also left me with a beautiful reminder when I asked her how her own experience with the arts on campus has changed this semester, saying,

“It’s a little bit trickier for me to consume the art that’s being created on campus. But I don’t think that means that art has stopped. I think that the current situation has brought even more creativity to the way that people are not only making art or making things in general, but also in the way that they’re putting it out to the world, putting it out for others to see. They’re finding these new solutions to get things out and that’s really exciting.”

And I think that is so true. Although we may not be able to view and share art together like we are used to, it’s important to remember that it has not disappeared. It is still here, pulsing through campus as powerfully – or even, maybe, more so – than ever before. 

If you want to get involved with the Shapiro Design Lab or use their resources, be sure to check out their website here or email them at shapirodesignlab@umich.edu. And if you’re interested in using their media production rooms, here is the Canvas training you’ll need to go through before you can reserve a time.

That’s all for now! Come back next week to hear about Creatives of Color and how they are adjusting to this semester on campus.

Stay safe,

Lucy

*Please note, quotes have been edited minimally for clarity and reading purposes, with the intention to maintain all of the meaning and voice of the author*

Echoes of Identity

A while back, one of my blog posts focused on the topic of race in drama. The inspiration for that discussion were my experiences in a class that—here’s a big surprise—examined race in drama. The class? RCHUMS 390: Contemporary Plays on Race in America.

When you think of plays by American playwrights, you might think of plays such as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. These works are often considered examples of America’s greatest plays—Arthur Miller was a U of M graduate, after all—so your thought process would be understandable. What I challenge you to do, however, is to consider reading or learning about American plays by playwrights of color.

As my professor, Kate Mendeloff, was exploring contemporary plays a few years ago, she discovered that some of the most poignant and interesting works she came across were written by playwrights of color surrounding topics such as race and disparity. Inspired by the discovery, she created the class to bring attention to talented playwrights of color and their works.

Just as the title suggests, my drama class had us study contemporary plays on race in America and other works by playwrights of color. The course included reading works representing a variety of identities, discussing them in class, and acting out scenes from several of the plays. It was interesting analyzing how the characters’ racial and ethnic identities impacted their stories and interactions with other characters. Immigration, drug addiction, and intercultural relationships were some of the topics addressed by the plays in class. They also tackled a variety of time periods and issues, such as the 1967 Detroit riots (Spirit of Detroit by Mercilee Jenkins, Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau).

Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege was a collection of plays written by six diverse playwrights as a reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict, while Flint by SMTD faculty member and playwright José Casas explored the water crisis through narratives based on the people affected by the city’s tragedy.

As our final project, our class presented a public performance to feature what we learned and worked on throughout the semester. Some students presented original monologues that illustrated personal experiences on race and privilege, while others presented mashups of monologues from Lorraine Hansberry’s famous A Raisin in the Sun and Joshua Harmon’s plays titled Admissions and Bad Jews. There were also scenes excerpted from plays read in class, like Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World by Yussef El Guindi.

Overall, the class was both enjoyable and educational. I challenge you to give one of the mentioned plays a try and comment your reaction below!

 

Photo Credit: Robby Griswold

Check out the RC for more classes and awesome opportunities!