REVIEW: MOCHAS + MURALS: WALKING MURAL TOUR

As an artist who is afraid of heights, the idea of painting a mural has always given me a shiver. I could not imagine being on a lift, hovering a paint brush or spray can over the side of a building. This has always been something I’ve been ashamed of because murals are a work of art for the people and they have a great benefit to the community. It could not be more true than in the Ann Arbor community. With the Ann Arbor Art Center (A2AC) pushing to add more murals, there is more art than ever in the city. 

This past Friday, I wandered to the A2AC on Liberty Street. A chatting group, iced coffee, and cookies that felt all too early in the morning  to eat for a college student like me (even at noon) awaited. We all gathered here for a tour of the city’s 15 murals put in place with the help of A2AC. 

Most of the murals appeared in the time that I lived in Ann Arbor. However, because of covid constantly moving me away from Ann Arbor and living in a dorm without a centralized location to downtown my freshman year, I wasn’t able to admire the way that these murals were really transformed the city. I think a page in the Murals activity book describes this change the best. It shows the before and after shots of the bland buildings and the shots of them after they have been painted. I feel like the image speaks for itself on the effect that the murals have had. 

On the walk, we stopped to admire many murals. Some were grand and impossible to miss. Others were fun and almost Easter egg-like, like the orange man on top of the A2AC. I discovered my favorite mural in the alley way of the Blind Pig. Painted by Chris, it depicts red dokkaebi which are inspired by Korean folklore. Their mischievous spirit pairs well with the late night crowds that gather in the alleyway. Sometimes it seems that the young adults and dokkaebi share the same energy and spirit. 

Overall, I would highly recommend checking out the city’s murals so you can pick out a favorite of your own. While you may not be able to have a guided tour like I did, the A2AC offers an online mural guide and activity book so you can go on a self guided tour.

REVIEW: RE:CLAIM

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.

PREVIEW: MOCHAS + MURALS: WALKING MURAL TOUR

There is nothing more Ann Arbor than sipping on a Zingerman’s mocha while staring at the city’s beautiful murals. Which is why I am excited to take part in the Mochas + Murals Walking Mural tour taking place this Friday (9/16) from 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm at the A2AC. If you want to sign up, spots are limited and may already be filled! However, there is another event offered on October 2nd. So if your interested check out the A2AC website at this link: https://www.annarborartcenter.org/beyond-the-pail/.

PREVIEW: RE:CLAIM : IMMERSION

 

Come visit the Washtenaw County Courthouse tonight (9/15) from 5:30 to 8:00 pm to experience the opening night of RE:CLAIM. RE:CLAIM is a project seeking to honor the complexity and diversity of the community impact of the criminal legal system as it affects youth, adults, and families.

Tonight will be filled with song, dance, poetry, and visual arts. It will surely be an experience to remember with over 30 dancers, poets, and musicians performing. The night will also include poems featuring artworks from the Embracing our Difference Exhibition that took over Gallup Park, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and River Side Park.

Review: Upcycled Spring Flowers

As Earth day 2022 rolls in, with it comes the reminder that the Earth is in trouble. 

 

For my first two years at the University of Michigan, I’ve spent my time as a Program in the Environment major learning all about the overconsumption, the CO2 emissions, and the environmental harm that will lead to humanity’s strife and destruction. Since then, I have switched into Stamps School of Art and Design and have been looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into my art. 

 

This past Wednesday, I attended a reuse craft session with the Planet Blue Student Leaders who were in partnership with Scrap Creative Reuse Center. Twenty other people and myself found ourselves in the Graham Sustainability Institute before the brunt of finals to make zipper flowers out of discarded zippers. It brought an hour of peace, fun, and a little bit of stress as I struggled to thread a needle. 

 

The process of the zipper flower making was simple and most people ended up with cool and sophisticated results. Though, my fumbling fingers did struggle a little with this new process of making. The first step of making the flowers was to split the zipper in half. From there you fold one of the sides into a ribbon in the same style as the breast cancer awareness ribbon. Then you sew where the zipper overlaps into a small felt piece and you continue to make these petal shapes from the remaining length of the zipper. You then incorporate the other half of the zipper into the work by following the same steps as the first zipper. This will result in a flower with a messy center. To cover the middle, you can roll some of the excess zipper into the center to create a rose like appearance. You can then hot glue the felt background of the flower to a button to create your own wearable zipper flower button.

While I made my flower, I admired the texture and contrast that the zipper had. The gold metal of the zipper created a harsh but shiny texture, which would be an interesting addition to a mixed medium 2-dimensional artwork or even a sculpture. Creating these flowers opened my eyes to the possibilities of new material to add into my art practice. 

 

I am glad that I attended this event because it was a reminder that as a creative person, I should continue to look to reuse more items in my practice. It also taught me about Scrap in Ann Arbor which collects donated craft materials in order for them to have a second life. Therefore putting less strain on the environment and letting you craft for cheaper.