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!

Endgame

On April 26th the last movie of the Avengers franchise will be released.  This movie has been highly anticipated since the shocking end to the last Avengers movie, and fans cannot wait to see who will be left standing at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

While this is the last Avengers movie, it is not the last Marvel superhero movie.  There are other Marvel movies already being cued up with everyone’s favorite characters from the Marvel Universe.  One movie that has been talked about for some time now, and that has been confirmed is coming out in 2020 is “Black Widow”.  Black Widow first made her appearance in Avengers and has been in other Marvel movies but has not had a solo film. Fans will be excited to get to know more about her and her backstory.  Another film set to release is the Black Panther sequel. The first film broke many records and was nominated for an oscar for best film. The sequel has been highly anticipated since the release of the first movie.  Two more sequels are also already confirmed to be coming out in the coming years: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and a Doctor Strange Sequel. Both of these movies joined the franchise later and made their first group appearance in the previous Avengers movie.

Not only are there many movies still in the works to continue to build on the Marvel Universe, but there are also TV shows that are being made.  A confirmed show that is being made is “Falcon and Winter Soldier”, as well as “Hawkeye”. These two shows in particular, similar to the Black Widow movie, will be the first solo project for these Avenger members.

While the group movies of the Avengers will be over soon, over the past several years every movie seems to feature at least two or three Avengers.  This means that as the Marvel Universe moves forward we will most likely still see the characters that we have fallen in love with since 2010. While Thor doesn’t have his own movie or TV show, there is a good chance that he will make at least one appearance in at least one of these sequels and Television shows.

Game of Thrones

One of the most anticipated shows, Game of Thrones, comes back and starts its final season on Sunday.  It has been two years since the last season, season 7, aired on HBO, and people cannot wait for to see the final season.  There are no rules in the show and everyone is waiting to see who, if anyone, will survive till the end of the show. Game of Thrones is one of the most watched shows in the U.S. right now, so there will be many watch parties for the premier of the final season.  Here are some ideas for a Game of Thrones watch party.

Game of Thrones is a show that you have to devote your entire attention to or else you will undoubtedly miss something important in the show.  But if you think that you can handle multitasking, there are many drinking games that are fun to play to the show. These could be good to make you and your guests watch the show more closely to see when you have to drink.  My favorite list is to drink when: Daenerys dragons appear, someone gets drunk, main character dies, Little Finger schemes, when there is lots of violence, white walkers appear, the Iron Throne is shown, and someone says “winter is here”.  This list will make you drink steadily throughout the episode.

While it is hard to eat while watching game of thrones because of the gore, some snacks would be ideal for a watch party.  An easy snack is to make Game of Thrones cookies, they may be difficult to decorate if you decide to put the houses banners on them.  You could also just decorate them with house colors or with each houses saying, such as “Winter is Coming” and “Fire and Blood”. Another idea is to make cake pops that are shaped like dragon eggs, or even just a cake that is shaped like a dragon egg.  If you have all three eggs guests can choose which dragon they want to eat.

The last thing that you could do for a Game of Thrones watch party is to dress up for it.  It is hard to find any clothes that resemble the characters that are under $70, but shirts are only $20.  There are many shirts that say “Winter is coming”, “You know nothing, Jon Snow”, and “A girl has no name”. You could buy a shirt that represents you favorite character and wear it in the hopes that they will not die.