Welcome to [art]seen!

Our [art]seen bloggers are University of Michigan students who review arts events on and near campus, sharing their thoughts and experiences on live music, film screenings, dance performances, theatre productions and art exhibitions.
If you’re a U-M student interested in becoming a regular blogger, there may be a position available to get paid for your writing! Read more about Blogging Opportunities here… We review applications and hire twice a year, in September and January.
Email us at arts@umich.edu with any questions.

PREVIEW: Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Linocuts by Meredith Stern


If you’ve never heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, you aren’t alone. Meredith Stern’s prints, currently on display in the Special Collections Research Center of Hatcher Graduate library, are meant to raise awareness of the document and commemorate its 75th anniversary. The exhibition will continue through February 1, 2019.

In 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a document, called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, meant to define the rights that every person is entitled to – rights known as human rights. These include rights such as equality, freedom of religion, and access to food and shelter. There are thirty rights total outlined in the document. Largely the result of the efforts of former first lady and U.N. ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt, the document’s purpose was to prevent egregious transgressions against humanity as occurred during World War II. You can read the full document here.

The issue with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that is isn’t law. Just read the news, and it becomes obvious that there are people whose human rights are violated on a daily basis.

Visit the exhibition Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Linocuts by Meredith Stern to enjoy some art and increase your awareness of human rights. Each of the prints illustrates one article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and there are a total of 14 on display.

The exhibition is free and open to all. The Special Collections Research Center is on the sixth floor of Hatcher Graduate Library, and it open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.

PREVIEW: SMTD Collage Concert

Want to go to a performance, but not sure you want to commit to several hours of the same thing? Join the School of Music, Theatre & Dance for the annual Collage Concert, which will take place on Saturday, January 19 at 8 pm in Hill Auditorium.

“The event’s design is unique, featuring all ensembles and departments of the School performing one arresting work after another in rapid-fire order.” This means that you can expect to experience some amazing performances of classical music, jazz, theater, musical theater, vocal music, dance, and more.

Don’t miss this SMTD tradition. Tickets may be purchased online, or at the Michigan League Ticket Office (open 10am – 1pm on Saturdays). Seating is reserved, and tickets are just $12 for students, or $34 or $28 for non-students, depending seat location.

PREVIEW: Paved with Good Intentions

Current U.S. culture and politics is riddled with fake news and exaggerated fearmongering. Paved with Good Intentions is a satirical installment critiquing this era with drawings on vintage postcards of American landmarks and destinations composed into a gridded landscape that mirrors today’s environmental chaos. In addition to the postcards, animated shorts and script-driven video in relation to the postcards are played. The exhibition opens on January 25 at the Institute for the Humanities with an opening reception and a panel discussion, “Good Intentions: Is Art an Effective Means of Activism?”, featuring artist David Opdyke, journalist Lauren Sandler, art historian Tara Ward, and arts curator Amanda Krugliak. This installation explores the power, or lack of power, that the arts have to address political and social issues. Open until February 26, you have a month to stop by the Institute for the Humanities to see this impactful mural.

REVIEW: Into the Spider-Verse

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The last animated film I fell in love with was Zootopia from a couple years ago, but there’s no doubt that Into the Spider-Verse has indefinitely exceeded it. The animation is utterly breathtaking and alive, capturing all the inter-dimensionality of the storyline and the true vivacity of New York City. The movie is also written exceptionally well with an engaging and relatable main character, Miles Morales, a Afro-Latino thirteen-year-old growing up in Brooklyn. Overall, the movie is a powerful addition to the Spiderman canon with a positive lead character who is a person of color– and, more than anything, all this in combination with its stunning animation and art style make it one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen.

Into the Spider-Verse follows the story of Miles Morales, a nerdy, artistic teanager in boarding school in New York City. His African-American father is a cop, his mother Puerto-Rican, though Miles is closest to his Uncle Aaron. On a night when Miles and his uncle are spray-painting a tunnel in the Subways, Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him the powers of Spiderman. After witnessing the death of Peter Parker, Miles realizes that there are many other spider-people just like him who have similar powers– and they must all team up to close a dangerous breach in the fabric of their spacetime dimensions.

The character for Miles Morales was created in 2011 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and comic artist Sara Pichelli, drawing inspiration from President Barack Obama. What I loved about this movie (and what a lot of people seem to want from Spiderman) is how it added a new personality and perspective to Spiderman. Miles seems like a very authentic and relatable kid going through the ups and downs of growing up, which is all exacerbated by his newfound spider powers. His ascent to heroism is believable and admirable, as he struggles and fights to fit into the burden and responsibility of being a superhero. Miles isn’t a flashy, flaunting superhero– he is genuine, down-to-earth, and, even when he’s out saving the world, the audience knows that the guy behind the mask is just a kid from Brooklyn who loves art and is still finding his place. He seems to be one of the most human superheros in the universe, and I love that. The characters and relationships in this movie are written exceptionally well– it hits a sweet spot between funny, touching, and inspirational. I loved laughing at the jokes as much as I loved watching the conflict escalate.

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Miles wears a cheap Spiderman costume because he doesn’t have his own yet.

The best part about the movie, however, the part that still keeps me coming back to it, is the visual spectacle. The movie is bursting with color, liveliness, and utterly perfect animation. The style is quite realistic with a comic twist, almost as if the pages of a comic book had just come to life, dancing with color and movement. The accompanying soundtrack features artists like Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, and Post Malone, and it is fresh, original, and fits the movie so well– just like what Miles Morales would listen to. The movie is an absolute feast for the eyes and ears.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend this movie. At the very least, it’s highly entertaining– at the most, you will have come out of the theater with a thrilling visual experience and met the best spiderman yet.

PREVIEW: CMENAS Film Screening: “Rachel”

The first film to kick off a series organized by UMich’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, “Rachel” is the story of a young American woman who was killed tragically while fighting for peace in the Gaza strip. Her death had little coverage in the time it occurred, and though witnesses claimed it was an intentionally committed murder, American and international investigators brushed it under the rug and soon forgot about it. With the poignancy and engagement of a great storyteller, director Simone Bitton does the work that should have been done during her tragic death, showing the injustice of Rachel’s story and the larger Palestinian narrative in which is takes part. You can watch this film on 4:00pm – 6:00pm in Weiser Hall – Room 555. It is a free screening.

PREVIEW: Folk Festival

The annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival is a fundraiser for The Ark that takes place in Hill Auditorium with two entertaining nights filled with the best folk music around. For the 42nd Folk Fest, the first night on Friday, January 25 features Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov, Haley Heynderickx, Sam Lewis, Parsonsfield, Michigan Rattlers, and Peter Mulvey. Then, the folk fun continues on Saturday, January 26 with the exciting lineup of Rufus Wainwright, I’m With Her, Pokey Lafarge, Ahi, The RFD Boys, and Peter Mulvey. Tickets can be bought at MUTO in the League Underground, at the Ark box office, or online at www.theark.org.