REVIEW: LIFE Magazine 1947 Homecoming Photographs

This art display is being featured at UMMA until November 18, deceivingly before football season ends. If your schedule is based on Michigan’s football schedule, check out this art display before the Michigan-Indiana game. Unfortunately, Michigan is not playing for the Brown Jug this year, which happens when we play Minnesota, because the display consists of photographs taken by LIFE magazine photographers at the Michigan vs Minnesota game in 1947.  In addition to the photographs, which capture moments from all over campus (excluding north) and from all throughout the homecoming weekend, there is also a replica of the Brown Jug.

When first looking at the display it is easy to miss the hidden details and excitement of the photographs because the photographs are all gray-scale, which we are not used too in the digital age. However, when looking closely I realized that gray colors do not hide the expressions on faces and the details of the environment.   The photographs include pictures of young couples staring intently into each others eyes, army veterans walking with their families, and college students and adults alike simply enjoying themselves.  The most common photographs are of the football stadium, from the billboard, to players, to football announcers. However, my favorite photographs are of the student football fans, because it is these images that I can most relate too. When first looking at the photos I paid attention to the differences from my experiences at football games.  I saw no giant M’s on people’s shirts, no students being tossed into the air, a short brick wall to separate the field from the fans, and audience members drinking from alcohol flasks while watching the game. However, I saw something that reminded me of what I see every football game I attend, and it is the most important thing that I saw; joy and anticipation in every students face. In fact it seemed as if there was a greater sense of anticipation in the faces of students in 1947 compared to today. This could be because the photo was captured at a moment of great excitement in the game, like a touchdown being scored or field-goal being kicked. I think it was because of the significance of the year 1947.  World War II had recently ended and the emotions from the war time still affected the students. The anticipation of how your brothers fighting across the sea were doing, the anticipation of if a bomb could reach the United States, and the anticipation of  when the war would end all affected the anticipation of if Michigan will convert on fourth down, the anticipation of if the Quarterback will be hurt from that sack, and the anticipation of if Michigan will win the game. Football is timeless, and this art exhibit did a wonderful job allowing me to connect to the past.

Ronald McTrump

I am a senior studying business and I have lots of travelling experience in Asia. I am very pessimistic and opinionated about life, but art brings me happiness and I hope my pessimism isn't apparent in my reviews, for the sake of the artists!

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