PREVIEW: What Were You Wearing?


Displayed previously at the University of Kansas, this thought-provoking exhibit is stopping here at the University for just one day, so be sure to check it out.  Featuring 18 stories of sexual assault , the exhibit hopes to challenge victim blaming and the idea that sexual assault survivors are ever to be held responsible for the crimes of others.   This event was organized by HeforShe and should be an important step in promoting both reflection and conversation here on campus.


This exhibit will be housed in the commons of the UMMA this coming Monday, Dec 4th, from 5:30-8:30. The exhibit is FREE to all and there will be desserts and refreshments provided by zingermans so be sure to stop by and check it out!  


REVIEW: Matisse Drawings

Walking into the UMMA exhibit, you are greeted by a sky blue wall detailing a small biography of Matisse.  On the other side is Kelly’s biography, with Kelly’s collection of sketches in that section.

I looked at Kelly’s side first, since it seemed to be the smaller collection.  I noticed a lot of experimentation with differentiation of line thickness.  While all the sketches were simple in nature, they had a subtle artistic quality to them.  For example, in “Catalpa Leaf,” there were two lines.  They started off thick at the top, and only crossed each other at the bottom of the leaf.  The lines faded out there as well, adding a sense of fragility to the leaf that likely was meant to represent the leaf’s qualities in reality.  This theme was present in most of Matisse’s sketches, so I see where the dialogue comes in between the two artists.

Regrettably, photography was not allowed in the exhibit. Here is an image of “Catalpa Leaf” I found from the internet!

After viewing Kelly’s sketches, I went over to the Matisse side of the room.  I noticed a lot of exploration of the fluidity of form, as a lot of the objects in Matisse’s sketches seemed to blend into one another while still retaining their own shape.

One of my favorite Matisse sketches was called “Dance movement, Christiane.”  It detailed the legs and lower torso of a ballerina.  The lines, like in most of Matisse’s sketches, were shaky.  I thought maybe the unsteadiness of the lines was a representation of the dancer’s movement.  The woman I was with argued that maybe Matisse was inebriated while drawing it.  Both opinions are reasonable, I think.

A lot of Matisse’s other drawings demonstrated the progression of his creative mind.  For instance, “Acrobat, study” depicted a woman in the bridge position, with her torso facing the sky.  Matisse’s use of lines reminded me a little of the Kelly drawings – the only steady stroke represented the woman’s stomach.  If you’ve ever done the bridge stretch, you’ll notice the stretch in your core.  Matisse seemed to represent this in his ink strokes.  The rest of her form was loose and not accurate in any means.  Even from an expressionist viewpoint, it was not beautiful.

The sketch next to it, however, was interesting.  Entitled “Four studies of acrobats,” the figures were more well-defined and biologically accurate.  To me, this made them more aestethically appealing.  It definitely showed a progression in Matisse’s line of thought regarding how he wanted to portray the acrobats.

Other aspects of the Matisse collection that I found interesting were the drawings that reminded me of Picasso’s technique.  “Veiled woman” had many cubist qualities, such as the characteristics in her face and the way her arm melted into the veil around her head.  Beside “Veiled woman” was “Themes and variations VI.”The subject’s veil is unfinished, but should cover her face.  Her face, however, is obviously still visible and exposed to the viewer.  The same goes for her breast.  This suggests that Matisse saw her face and torso as the most captivating parts of her, and used expressionist technique to portray that.

Lastly, Matisse used lines to represent light.  In “Study, boat” the lines around the plant in the window are squiggly.  I saw this as the movement of light as it’s dappled by the world outside.  Of course, in a sketch, it’s impossible to make your subjects move.  Matisse accomplished a sense of movement by using different stroke techniques.

In conclusion, I was impressed by the collection at the UMMA.  It was fun to see “The Dance” in sketch form – it was actually really underwhelming compared to its meaning in expressionist history.  The progression of Matisse in his drawings and the (albeit somewhat minimal) dialogue between him and Kelly added a lot to my interpretations of the exhibit.

PREVIEW: Matisse Drawings

As someone interested in visual arts, Matisse has always presented somewhat of a predicament.  His works when viewed on their own have been criticized as lacking in artistic technique – harsh words to describe a world famous painter.  After taking a history of art class in which we briefly analyzed Matisse, I had to agree.  His work looked almost childish, shaky and unsure.  It wasn’t until we looked at “The Dance” that I changed my opinion.

It was the meaning behind the painting which made it beautiful… for me, anyway.  I’m sure a lot of people admire Matisse for his technique.  I, however, disagree.  I like to look at things in an almost backwards sort of way – how did the intended meaning influence the actual piece?  What did Matisse mean for “The Dance” and how does that meaning show up on the canvas?

That’s why I’m so interested in the UMMA exhibit, which opens tomorrow.  It’s from 11-5 until February 18th in the A. Alfred Taubman Gallery I.  It’s a collection of “forty-five rarely exhibited works by Matisse made in the first half of the 20th century, which reveal his process and range of creativity as a draftsman…” (according to the UMMA’s website).  Presented alongside Matisse’s work are drawings by Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015).  Also taken from the website, “Kelly selected nine of his own lithographic drawings that derive from his time in France during the 1960s, when the American artist studied Matisse’s sketches and studies of nature and human figures.”

This exhibit will present a dialogue between two artists and will hopefully provide new insights regarding the meaning of each collection.

REVIEW: Victors for Art—Michigan’s Alumni Collectors

For some reason, I envisioned a collection of aged oil paintings and sculptures at the sound of the Victors for Art exhibit. I thought to myself, an exhibit of work owned by alumni? They probably have ancient sculptures and European paintings or something. 

And the exhibit did have that. I spent a good ten minutes marveling at an oil painting comprised of various shades of blue, featuring two men on a cliff. Another several minutes were spent admiring an oil painting of a woman who appeared to be deep in thought, pictured below; I took note of the wonderful shading and highlight that the artist captured in this piece, especially through the wrinkles and folds of the woman’s veil.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA

But Victors for Art went beyond one’s envision of a typical museum art gallery: I found myself looking at a stuffed rooster in a glass casing, standing across from one that was identical in appearance but was comprised of various materials. Other works included a set of figurines that represented the twelve zodiac animals ( dating back to several centuries), a painting of a nude woman leaning on a large pack of Lifesavers, and a large piece of a woman dazzled in embellishments, pictured below.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA

As the group of alums who made this exhibit possible was diverse, so were the works themselves. This gallery is presented along with the theme of figuration, going with the idea that this exhibit will “allow visitors to explore the variety of artistic responses and purposes encompassed…” and that’s exactly the kind of experience I had when visiting Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors—Part I: Figuration.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA
Photo courtesy of the UMMA

For those who have not yet seen this exhibit, it’s a must! Victors for Art provides the opportunity for one to view art that may not usually be available for the public to view. The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11AM – 5PM and Sunday 12PM – 5PM!

PREVIEW: Victors for Art—Michigan’s Alumni Collectors

Among the plethora of special events and festivals that the University of Michigan is hosting for the 2017 Bicentennial, the UMMA is showcasing works of art collected by their very own alumni. These works, which range from oil paintings to sculptures to multimedia, come from a variety of artists such as Christo, Jean Dubeffet, and Gergia O’Keeffe. The gallery Victors for Art gives visitors the opportunity to view art that would otherwise not be seen by the public eye.

Take the chance to celebrate the university’s bicentennial and view these works while they are at display at the UMMA!

When: Now until June 11th
Time: Monday through Saturday 11:00AM to 5:00PM, Sunday 12:00PM to 5:00PM
Location: UMMA

REVIEW: Spectra: Voicing Our Experience A Night of Spoken Art & Music

Walking into the museum space, the former white, marble-esque floor was covered by carpets, pillows, and tea lights’ electronic flicker. It looks like it could be the second floor of your favorite local-coffee-shop-poetry-reading, if they too were surrounded by renowned works of art. Often, UMMA’s space can appear a bit aloof, a bit austere and refined, but for this night it was transformed into a warmer, more intimate atmosphere. People mingled in, munching away on their biscotti and hot chocolate (again, your local coffee-shop-vibes), and ArtsX opened with emphasizing the importance of sharing our experiences through the various forms of art. I loved that all the different forms of art and expression flowed together, as if they were created with the intention to work in succession. With the spoken word and poetry pieces, voices and words filled the space. Perhaps it is a bit contrived, but I liked to imagine that these intangible words, pieces of art themselves, hung in the art alongside the paintings, student contributions adding to a recording of human experience.

The first few pieces, a musical duo that may have changed my mind towards jazz music and spoken word poetry that painted a picture of the museums of the future looking make on today’s society’s mistakes, served to set the tone of students sharing their experiences and voices for other students. One of my favorite pieces of the night, an unexpected form amongst the more customary fields of song and poetry, was the work of Sarah Baruch titled Here I Am, How Did I Get Here and Where am I Going?. Chronicling her path from high school to the present, through undergrad and med school, she wove what is a common story for anyone traveling through university in a way that felt like an engaging conversation with a friend over coffee. It was saturated in her own voice and humour and caused me to think and contemplate over the inevitable moment I am standing in a similar position.

The performance was longer than most at UMMA, though that is likely just the nature of the number of performers. I never felt as though it became too long or repetitive; the constant changing and difference in performance styles kept each work feeling new and exciting. Some people chose to stay for a piece or two while others were there for the entirety; it was very much a “come as you are, go as you please” feel. If you get the opportunity to attend any performances at UMMA, I would highly recommend it on the space alone. ArtsX UMMA’s Spectra proved to stand out by its casual and inclusive nature, and I’m up for hearing other’s stories genuinely poured out anytime.