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: 12th Annual FestiFools

On Sunday afternoon, puppets came alive and fools came about.

It was another cold day, but luckily the sun came out to be foolish with everybody. I had been with the FestiFools class (housed by Lloyd Hall Scholars Program) earlier that day — so I rode from the studio to Main Street with the puppets and their makers and then helped them unload those massive papier-mache sculptures. Seeing all them all lining the side road gave them a new element of livelihood an hour later when they took to the stage.

Many puppets this year were politically-charged, which also added a layer of humor to the already-foolish theme. One such sculpture completed in part by the event’s founder, Mark Tucker, was a “scary go-round” featuring giant caricatures of Putin, Trump, and Kim Jong-un. Their realistic facial resemblances added to the scare factor of the piece. It was surrounded by several fish- and Nile-themed sculptures: fantastical underwater creatures, a jellyfish umbrella, a large pyramid, a Sphinx featuring another head of Trump as well as hieroglyph-esque political cartoons of his presidency, and more.

Scary Go-Round
Sphinx with head and presidency of Trump (one of its makers and director of LHSP pictured)

I’d like to think the politically-charged pieces were crowd favorites, given the laughs and supportive comments from onlookers around me. The mayor of Ann Arbor also had a puppet head resembling him, which another person wore while he escorted him around the stage (up and down Main Street).

Mayor of Ann Arbor next to mayor of Ann Arbor

Alongside puppets, marching bands (ones with real brass instruments and more FestiFools-esque ones with buckets as drums) add music to the scene; dance groups and jokesters perform and interact with the crowd. A group of belly dancers in particular were fascinating, especially when following a large praying mantis led by several people at once.

Maybe I’m biased after having seen several of these puppets in the studio the week before when they were unfinished, but they all turned out incredible. While yes, some parts fell off during the procession, that’s what they’re made to do.

Hundreds of Ann Arbor fools with and without families lined Main Street for that hour on Sunday afternoon. In fact, they gathered on the sidewalks at least a half-hour before it began and stuck around during the half-hour following, eager and excited for the foolish energy that lingered.

During the event, several puppets also interacted with the crowd — particularly children. I jumped in to assist a friend’s Lego Princess Leia puppet, which had a sad face on one side of the head and a happy face on the other. When Leia got high-fives from kids to her U-shaped lego hands, her happy face would greet them.

Princess Leia as a happy Lego

One of my favorite parts of FestiFools is the last five minutes: all of the puppets and their makers gather in the intersection nearest the trucks in which they came, dancing and smiling as though the catharsis of the event. If FestiFools was a musical, this would be the final number with all cast members present, where any plot issues get resolved. The drummers and musicians don’t necessarily battle but instead give the stage one last, large energetic push, and then the crowd parts to let them dance their way back to the side street.

I highly recommend going to the next FestiFools! It takes place right on Main Street once every April. While a great chance to be your true foolish selves, consider letting that foolishness shine other days of the year, too.

PREVIEW: CGIS Photography Showcase

Center for Global and Intercultural Study Photography Showcase


Students who travelled the globe in the 2011-2012 school year will exhibit photographs of their journeys on January 24th from 4-6pm in Room 2345 of North Quad. The competition’s winners will be revealed at the end of the showcase.¬†Appetizers¬†will be provided, so bring your friends and take a glimpse at the beauties of the planet! After returning from my CGIS travels in China and Japan last semester, I submitted several photographs to this competition. I can’t wait to see what my peer’s experiences look like on film!