REVIEW: RC Student Studio Arts Invitational Opening Reception

On a busy Friday the 13th, the Residential College’s art gallery opened its doors to show off several lucky students’ work. Granted, this exhibition is invitational and students were encouraged to drop off their works by their own hands, but we’re all pretty lucky to have this opportunity. All work from this exhibition is done by students taking RC studio arts courses and who have elected to show some of their work: ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and drawing. Individual works are not labeled, though a placard listing each contributing student rests among the artwork.

Even after four years at UM and several classes in East Quad, I’ve somehow never been inside this small gallery. It felt roomier than I expected, in a way that maximized the intimacy of the space. While I roamed around alongside a few other students, I still felt that I had plenty of time and space to admire the art on display.

Prints and drawings color the long wall and give it life. Several pieces were more political than others, though holistically mixing textures and adding to said life. A piece with a person stretching to reach their foot says “Let me live” beside a different piece shouting “The first pride was a riot” in stark contrast; a piece with an image of a gun and “Never again” sits above one of a mountain. I liked seeing how the creative minds of classmates look beside each other and how the individual pieces work into the whole. Despite so many different approaches, it all worked so well together.

From there, the gallery moves into sculpture and ceramics. A series of patterned blocks make a nice juxtaposition with a smooth and more organic-looking shape. Surrounding it, wire sculptures make shadows on the walls, reminding me of various works by Alexander Calder and their placements in other galleries. Mixed-media sculptures rest in the middle of the room: one being a sculpted human heart held up by wires attached to a three-dimensional frame.

Opposite the prints, ceramic vases and series give the walls texture among another color print and several black and white photos. I especially liked the glaze techniques on the smooth vases and the patterns that the artists were able to create — and I really loved the leaf patterns on one of them, with 3D ceramic leaves crawling around its rim. It was calming to view.

One of the walls of this gallery is a large window, so people can glance at art while walking past. Between that window and the rest of the gallery, exhibition space was definitely maximized by adding other walls. I liked this because of the chance given to see work during its closing hours: different types of work are displayed together, ceramic and photo in particular, giving passersby a glimpse into what the rest of the gallery has to offer.

My own work is on display as well (photos and poems teamed together). I’m taking the black and white photography course this semester, so I recognized some of the photos and series of photos from my peers. I haven’t been able to see the other section’s photos until this exhibit, and I enjoyed seeing what they’ve been coming up with for certain projects. Their displays both juxtaposed and mirrored the prints coloring the opposite wall: several different artists with different approaches/subjects adding to one array that still works holistically.

Part of me wished that each piece was individually labeled with titles and/or artist statements so I could see what some of the artists had conceptualized, but I also liked that they stood alone. This element truly added to the idea that art can have as many meanings as people who see it, and sometimes it’s fun to make your own thoughts separate from what the artist wants you to think.

This exhibition of student work is on display until the April 27th, so you have plenty of time to go see these wonderful pieces! The gallery is always free, and open M-F from 10am-5pm. If you’d like to one day have your work shown in an exhibit like this, consider taking an RC studio arts course. Some seats are open to non-RC students.

And, for those who also have their work exhibited — truly great work! I hope you’re as excited as I am to have something original shown in a nice gallery space.

PREVIEW: RC Student Studio Arts Invitational Opening Reception

Maybe you’ve been taking studio art classes in the Residential College, or maybe you have friends (such as yours truly) who have, or maybe you’ll be around East Quad at some point this month with art on the mind. Maybe you’ve been itching to see student photography, ceramics, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture all in the same little space.

Lucky for you, the RC Art Gallery will be full of student work from various RCARTS courses from the 13th-27th of April, completely free to browse. The gallery and student exhibition will open with a reception on Friday, the 13th of April from 4-6pm — also free and with refreshments! The gallery is just to the right of the East University entrance when you first walk in and is usually open M-F 10am-5pm, special exception for this event.

Date: Friday, April 13th, 2018
Time: 4-6pm
Location: East Quad’s RC Art Gallery

*Featured image credit: “Date Night” by Henry Schreibman

REVIEW: RC Student Juried Art Show

The RC Student Juried Art Show features several student artists and will run until the end of the semester. Three artists included in the exhibition that I’d like to feature are Casey Jong, Heather Barnell, and Samantha Marks. Their contributions to the exhibition include pen-and-ink pieces, pottery, and sculpture pieces, respectively. The other exhibited artists worked with mediums such as painting, photography, and intaglio printmaking.

Jong’s pen-and-ink pieces, Piece 1 and Piece 2, hang side-by-side on the wall. The former piece features a female figure with a melancholic facial expression sitting on a chair next to a small end-table that supports a vase of flowers. She rests her face on her hand and stares into the abyss. The curve of her head resembles the curve of the end-table. Piece 2 features another female figure. She stands alongside a coat-rack and she raises her arms as well as secures her feet in first-position. The curves of her arms resemble the curves of the nearby coat-rack. Jong in Piece 1 and in Piece 2 combines female figures with everyday objects such as end-tables and a coat-racks. The pieces exemplify these combinations of figures and objects in visually-interesting ways.

Barnell’s Untitled consists of an engraved rectangle of clay. The artist engraved the words “Once a kid” and “Always a kid” on adjacent sides of the four-sided piece alongside childlike silhouettes. The other sides of the rectangular piece feature more adultlike silhouettes without the additions of words. The greyish, goldish, and purplish tones of the piece itself were visually-appealing. Untitled, however, was insufficiently lit as well as insufficiently positioned. The viewer struggles to read the engraved words of the darkly-colored piece. Additionally, the piece sits on its table at hip-level rather than at eye-level. The piece, however, still entices and interests the viewer regardless of the fact that viewing the piece at eye-level in a well-lit area would’ve been more ideal.

Finally, Marks’ life-size piece, Say Yes to the Debt, consists of tape, paper, and printed money. The artist sculpted these materials into the shape of a wedding dress. The title of the piece echoes the title of the well-known reality television series (Say Yes to the Dress). Wedding dresses sometimes cost thousands of dollars and the sculpture reduces the dress to its monetary value. The sculpture signifies conspicuous consumption because dress may indicate wealth. Certainly, the wearer of Say Yes to the Debt would conspicuously display his or her wealth. Ultimately, Say Yes to the Debt attracts viewers because of its life-like size as well as because of its surrealistic nature.

The RC Student Juried Art Show runs until December 17th. Additionally, the Residential College Art Gallery is open M-F 10am until 5pm. Catch the exhibition while you can!

PREVIEW: RC Student Juried Art Show

The opening reception for the RC Student Juried Art Show will take place tomorrow afternoon. The show will run until the end of the semester if you’re unable to make its opening reception. Additionally, the show does not appear to have any kind of theme.

I’m excited to view student work, which might seem less polished than the work of professional artists. Students are learning rather than perfecting their crafts. It’s exciting to witness and I’m interested in acquainting myself with the work of my fellow students.

The Residential College Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday 10am until 5pm.

PREVIEW: Voices of the Middle West

Image courtesy of Midwestern Gothic

Calling all book lovers, readers, publishers, bagel eaters, robots, Midwesterners4Life…whoever you are, you have a VOICE! And we want to hear it!

One year later after its debut, the Voices of the Middle West Literary Festival is a new annual event, created in partnership by local literary mag Midwestern Gothic and UM’s Residential College. From the Midwestern Gothic website, Voices of the Middle West is “a festival celebrating writers from all walks of life as well as independent presses and journals that consider the Midwestern United States their home.”

The event, set up in the East Quad Main Concourse, will be all day starting at 10 am-6pm, available for you to wend your way through tables of books to buy (including ones from Literati Bookstore), freshly-printed campus publications to peruse, publishers and editors and visionary students to chat about the future of the industry in an electronic world, and some very famous authors to brush shoulders with!

Throughout the day will be many panels featuring authors such as Matt Bell, Alissa Nutting, and Anne Valente, on different topics about the Midwest. There’s a chance to hear (or perform) poems and prose at the Open Mic, a great way to support your fellow writers on campus. And don’t miss the very special keynote speaker, Stuart Dybek, who will discuss his own take on publishing, writing, being successful, and of course, living in the Midwest.

I believe everyday should be a day to celebrate books! But Midwestern Gothic and the Residential College have put their heads together to make Voices of the Middle West a celebration that immerses you in Midwestern pride and literary splendor. Indeed- Voices is a unique “book holiday” that is too good to pass up. (Party hats optional. Love of books required)

What: Voices of the Middle West

Where: East Quad, University of Michigan Central Campus

When: Saturday, March 21 from 10-6

How Much?: FREE!!! … unless you choose to buy a book! Which I mean, how could you not??? 🙂

For more information on the schedule of events, check out