The Stamps Gallery is a severely underrated gallery. Each time I visit the space, the work present engages me and shows innovation in the art world. This exhibition is no exception. Truly showing the range of the University of Michigan’s art and design students, this exhibition showcased work ranging from video to functional design to fashion and more. Leaving the exhibition, I felt excited for the direction of art and design in Michigan and globally.
It made me really happy to see works and artists my student group, Helicon, has included in its past exhibitions and publications. The dual visibility in both student-run and institutional contexts I find important to not only succeeding in the visual arts, but also being relevant and contributing to the student arts community. One example of such an individual is Brooks Eisenbise and their work Carrying All of This, a piece that was really intriguing to see in person after working with its image in our publication this past spring. The tactility of the work and the way it hovers between mediums and artistic forms is enough to draw viewers in. From there, though, one finds the work itself to be intimate and challenging, ultimately creating a highly contemplative personal and aesthetic experience.
Student work is important. Viewing student work is important. Putting student work in a gallery is important. It’s easy to look back at old masters and funky modernists and feel that art ends at Van Gogh and Kahlo, but art is a key part of the never ending process of culture-making. To disregard the current state of visual arts practice is to disregard what will come to play a part in defining our cultural moment. It is a great disservice to oneself, too, to miss out on placing oneself in the presented realities of others. Not to say an undergraduate exhibition at the University of Michigan offers the complete range of perspectives necessary to build the contemporary world of art, but going and looking and taking in the
student perspective and its subset of forms is a small step forward to contextualizing the world through the powerful and (in this and most cases) un-contrived form of visual arts. It’s also just plain exciting to examine the trajectories of these skilled artists and what their early work means for the direction of art and design. The exhibition is open until December 15th– go play the individual’s part in the arts and look.
(pictured at left: Obsession39 by Sophie Linden)