REVIEW: Expedition Reef

What. A. Fantastic Show.

Do you like planetariums? Even if you don’t like planetariums this is a show you ought to check out. Expedition Reef is a new planetarium show at the Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor and it is a-ma-zing.

Expedition Reef is a 30-minute long film of sorts that takes viewers on a journey through the different coral reefs in our oceans, how they form, how they are dying etc. While the film is educational it is not boring in the least. The film is absolutely gorgeous: the realistic underwater animation shows these rainforests of the ocean to you as if you were a scuba diver. Seeing the ocean stretched out on a whole planetarium is breathtaking, to say the least. It is an immersive experience and the visuals are top-notch. It is described as an oceanic safari and it really is that diverse and fun.

Even the educational material about coral reefs is super well done. In fact, my favorite part of the film was when we are shown how reefs reproduce (they do it by expelling spores in the water which I know because I saw this awesome film). During the scene, spores fill the 180 degree screen and it is akin to watching thousands of lanterns being sent to the sky. So gorgeous! I wished this show was longer than just 30 minutes.

After this, we were given a 15 minute guided tour of our universe. A graduate student in astronomy showed us our planet’s location in the solar system, our solar system’s location in the galaxy, our galaxy’s location in the universe, and so on. The tour explained a lot of things like exoplanets, interstellar space, and more (I finally understood why Pluto was kicked out from the planet committee of our solar system). Even though we saw a lot in a short time, the presentation on the screen made it very easy to follow and also to conceptualize distances in space.

After the show ends, the viewers exit through a gallery to a science museum! It had a vast array of hands-on activities, interactive information, and really fun, elaborate nature displays.

Going to see a planetarium show with a friend followed by a museum visit as you all point to different exhibits, take pictures of a raccoon eating peanut butter will be a wholesome, serotonin-filled way to spend the weekend. The planetarium is still offering tickets for shows that you can buy at the museum for just 8 dollars. Since it is so close to home (basically in the center of the city) there is no reason for you to not go explore what all our world-renowned museums have to offer.

 

 

REVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

If you’re looking for some kitschy fun, look no further that Ypsilanti’s Holy Bones Festival. The Halloween Spirit was out in full force as local artists and performers showcased their spookiest wares and performances. I commend the talented drag and burlesque performers for doing their routines on a chilly evening!
During one memorable number, Johnny Rocket, dressed as a mummy did a striptease unraveling their bandages. Local drag queen Zooey Gaychanel, I first saw perform at the Spectrum Center’s Fair in September was also headlining.

Johnny Rocket strikes a pose

The Halloween Market featured everything from antiques to enamel pins to bath bombs and indie comics. I particularly enjoyed talking with Detroit-based Bad Love Design who sells cheeky, high-quality affordable prints inspired by retro cartoon an 60s pin-up aesthetic. Bad Love is working on a forthcoming tarot deck, so keep your eyes peeled! I also stopped to talk to the owner of Conjure Goddess, a new hoodoo shop opening up in Ypsilanti. They stock everything a witch could need from incense to Tarot cards to conjure oil. I was really impressed by the diversity of magic shops and businesses in Ypsi as well as the amount of queer-owned and women-owned businesses at the fair.

Owners of the Conjure Goddess
Bad Love Design

 

Last but not least, the food options were few but notable. Fork in Nigeria was definitely the stand-out, with various kinds of fufu and jollof. There was also a more economical taco truck option. Both had vegetarian choices. There was also a lot of hot cider going around! I ducked out before the festivities ended but I did get to hear some of the mellow tones of London Beck before I left. The fun, lighthearted atmosphere nearly allows you to forget how hard the performers and artists work to put events like these together. All in all, I think the Holy Bones festival is a great choice for families and for students and young adults.

PREVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

To all Halloween enthusiasts,

I will be the brave one to address what’s on everyone’s mind: Fall break is just around the corner and you don’t know what to do! Halloween season is about to start! Your midterm couldn’t have been scheduled at a worse time! AT&T stock drops toward 11-year low, as dividend yield rises further above 8%!

Fear not I have an event for you that will cast away your worries and give you the perfect, ghoul fuelled start to your fall break.*

*applies to folks free between 3 pm EST and 10 pm EST on the 16th October 2021 only Terms and Conditions apply.

Skeletons partying like there’s no tomorrow

Thee (with the special e sound) Holy Bones Festival!

If you were looking for a sign then here is the official start to Halloween season for you. This spooktacular event is held right in your backyard: Ypsilanti. A quick (did I mention free?) bus ride away from CCTC. Forget taking the bus to your North Campus 8ams this is where the groovy kids take the bus to. 

The festival will have over FORTY local artisans and tarot readers, live music, drag shows, an art show, an auction (c’mon have you ever been to a freaking auction?),  and an improv show.

So put on your Jack Skellington T-shirts and be ready to have fun in the sun like the skeletons in the poster. Do you see how much fun they’re having?! 

Also, their early tickets are prices devilishly at $6.66 so don’t wait too long. Grab a friend and let’s go!

 

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.

REVIEW – Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition

Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition is a virtual showcase that highlights the work created by the graduating students of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. As a featured artist myself, I can personally claim that the creative process has been immensely complicated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, evidenced by the impressive display, the unprecedented conditions we’ve experienced together this past year have not prevented our collective perseverance and the creation of astonishing projects! Even though it is saddening that most senior studios went unused, I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow classmates for advancing their practice and fostering immense creative and professional development through their studies. Congratulations! 

That being said, if you haven’t checked out the exhibition, you should definitely give it a look! Here is the webpage: https://www.stampsgrads.org/classof2021/senior-exhibition/. Ironically, even though everything is digital, we have amassed a lengthy selection of books. In Between: este lado y el otro lado by Olivia Prado, a multidisciplinary artist, is a book that resists preconceptions of Mexican-American identity through the juxtaposition of poetry, drawing and painting, photography, and text messages with family members. Prado intentionally creates a multi-faceted narrative that contends with expectations for artists of color to reduce personal experiences to simplified concepts for white viewership and consumption. By offering a variety of rich and formative experiences, Prado opens a space for people to better understand, yet not entirely, the complexities of personhood as it relates to the communities we are a part of.

Additionally, because the website format allows for each artist to upload up to ten documentation photographs, the display configurations of more sculptural works are highly mutable. This is applicable to the Parasitic Vessels: Forms of Disuse series created by recent-graduate Ellie Levy. Levy is particularly interested in the introduction of invasive protrusions and modifications to bowls as a question and critique to the utilitarian nature of ceramic design. Although, with this mutation comes a supplemental and beneficial quality to the human interaction with an object. How do we perceive the bowls differently? As the material body of the bowls are mutated, a fused identity is created through a balance that allows for new existence. The parasite becomes a catalyst for the imaginative.

These are two of the many amazing and captivating works in the exhibition, which will remain permanently in the digital space. I encourage you all to explore what we have created!

 

Artist Information:

Olivia Prado – Website: https://odprado.wixsite.com/oliviapradoart

Ellie Levy – Website: https://ellielevyceramics.com; Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erlceramics/

REVIEW – “Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test” at Red Bull Arts Detroit

Akeem Smith’s No Gyal Can Test exhibition at Red Bull Arts Detroit transgresses disciplinary classifications and the expectancy for a singular ethnographic history of dancehall, which is readily accessible to a globalized audience eager to exploit its cultural legacy.

In Jamaica, upper-class families grill their home to deter robberies of their houses. Smith utilizes these grills to protect the archival dancehall photographic and film footage behind, which ranges the two decades between the 80s and 2000s. Protruding from the flat walls of the building’s underground tombs, these decorative homes symbolize the artist’s attitude toward a global viewership that commodifies the hypervisible women of the movement. The voyeurim of the gallery visitor questions the assumed invitation to peer through cast iron metal shields. What is offered and what is withheld? On the other hand, their installation can also be perceived in relation to wealthy Jamaicans’ refusal to accept the cultural and political revolution of dancehall as a national signifier. Viewers are meant to question their position within, or outside of, the household in order to better understand what is deserving of safeguarding.

In these and other wall works, photographs and videos are intentionally obscured, offering a limited visual scope to the memories they document. Queens Street, an assembled building with an exposed interior,  encases a single-channel video that plays abstracted and slowed-down footage of a dance. Because there is a gap between the welded metal doorway attached to the front of the house and the leftmost edge of the adjacent window, viewers are situated awkwardly outside this personal space peering indoors. The portrait included in Black Queen, a minimal and rectangular wall work made with salvaged, black building remnants, is hidden from view behind an top section of latticework. The woman’s face is almost entirely encased in its shadow.

Curated by Maxwell Wolf and Kenta Murakami, this unique expression of love culminates the preceding twelve years of archival work and outreach to honor the legacy of the dancehall community Smith grew up around in Kingston, Jamaica. Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in the Waterhouse District in Kingston before returning to Crown Heights, Smith is the godson of Paula Ouch, the founder of the Ouch fashion house, an all women’s team that shaped the visual loudness of the era. Several of their garments on view are draped on mannequins sculpted by collaborative artist Jessi Reaves that commemorate the women of his youth and particularly Sandra Lee, the central fashion and hair stylist. Jewelry by Brando, his grandmother’s former partner, is juxtaposed alongside these original pieces. The interwoven nature of his life is further solidified through his grandma, who raised him alongside his mom, and co-owned La Roose club in Portmore, a coastal city that borders Kingston. Materials – corrugated zinc, tarp, repurposed wood, and breeze – from the building’s facade, as well as other disused social spaces, make up the main components of Smith’s deeply-personal installations.

While Smith’s process implements specific protocols to procure and ethically compensate Jamaicans who provided him with the exhibition material, the extension of these guidelines within the gallery are ultimately left to the discretion of the visitor. What is implicated through the exhibition’s free admission and allowance of photography that facilitates a capturing of images among visitors?

Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test is on view at Red Bull Arts Detroit in Eastern Market every Friday – Sunday from 12 pm – 7 pm until July 30. Reservations are required. Appointments to see the Soursop offsite installation at Woods Cathedral in Detroit can also be made using the same webpage: https://ngct.redbullarts.com

 

Artist Information:

Akeem Smith – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/akeemouch/