When I walked into the opening night of the RE:CLAIMED Immersion opening night, I did not know what to expect. I half read the eventbrite description of the event and understood that there would be poetry, dancers, music, and visual artwork. However, I could not imagine the form that it would take. I must admit I was nervous to attend and a bit lagging as I walked the streets of downtown Ann Arbor to the Washtenaw County Courthouse, which was a place I only ever passed and never had a single thought of going into. When I got to the courthouse, a metal detector awaited me. I almost turned around right then. Then I saw the smiling face of the guards who took my phone, keys, and loose pencils from my pockets to run through the machine and I began to understand the purpose of this event. It was a celebration. A celebration in honor of art and the work of the Youth Arts Alliance, Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice, Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper, Amplify Project, and Title Track, and the Washtenaw County Trial Court.
I found further comfort from the intimidating surroundings of the courthouse in the autumn tree that greeted me at the entrance way. Its presence seemed to say, “hey this building isn’t as scary as it seems. Check me out, I’m a tree and I’m doing just fine here.” From there I climbed the steps to the second floor. On the stairwell, there was a little room titled Proud Little Witch designed by the artist Rowan McClung-Compton. It welcomed me as it reminded me that this event was about art and art was meant to be viewed by people even if they did not fully grasp what the event was for.
On the second floor of the building was where the bulk of the art was. Paintings lined the hallway and a stage had been set up in a corridor surrounded by anticipating adults for the upcoming dance routine. One of my favorite exhibitions of work came from the courtroom itself. I’d never been in a courtroom before so I got a bit of giddy excitement at being in a place that reminded me of being on a set of a movie or tv show. The pinhole photographs exhibited there added an interesting contrast of human presence to the room. It reminded me that this wasn’t a tv set but a place that impacted the lives of people.
Overall the event was a bit intimidating. However, it was great to see the power of artwork in action as it brought the community together and gave these young people a voice.