“what is art?” #20 – Noah Caspar Interview

Noah Caspar is a rising senior studying fine arts in the Stamps School of Art & Design. As a freshman, they intended to graduate with a neuroscience major but transferred into Stamps after reigniting their artistic passion through a sculpture course in the residential college. Noah enjoys creating work that forces the viewer to interact with the piece and allows the space to take shape around it. As a queer artist, they also explore what makes a space exclusionary and how they can facilitate comfortable spaces for all. Noah gravitates towards sculpture because of the process and labor for its craft and hopes to branch off from these studies with their background in music to make more performative installation pieces. To learn more about Noah’s process, work, and their definition of art please take a listen to this audio interview and check out their website below.

Website: https://www.noahcaspar.com/ 

Instagram: @noahc100

“what is art?” #19 – glove fashion

Things are happening outside the walls of my house and it’s hard to be productive when my mind is racing all the time about what is occurring. Each day feels like either 5 or 35 hours and I never know what the actual date is. My birthday is in three days and this seems preposterous to me because it somehow still feels like the beginning of March. What is occurring to the whole world right now is tragic, mystifying, and also I suppose a test about what life can give us. 


In my new “normal” lifestyle at home, I hang out with my family, continue to finish schoolwork, watch movies, do yoga, and from time to time go on Instagram. This addicting app has its ups and downs for me but today I opened it up to see a post by a Stamps alum Sara Radin about “8 Ways to Decorate Your Protective Gloves According to the Internet” and I had to smile and share. 


Instagram accounts: @ainacarafi (top left), @evazar (top right), @chalmecatecuhtli (bottom left), @maria_bernad (bottom right), @luiny (cover image)

One of the tagged gloves is from creative writer and editor I also follow, Tori West. Not only does she devour the fashion magazine scene with her talent but she is also an individual promoting being a working class woman. She is a part-time cleaner for financial and therapeutic reasons and inspires others to be confident in their own side hustles. On her Instagram, she posts untraditional pictures of her cleaning that challenge what this job can look like. Her style and confident personality consumes each post and encourages a conversation about how these jobs can be intertwined with fashion, art, etc. In this time of quarantine, her posts have reached many and inspired others to get creative with how they clean their own houses now. 

By gluing on gems or even picking up a sharpie and drawing, people have been able to turn their plain ol’ gloves into a fashion statement, art piece, and/or sites of beauty. Quarantine can be a slippery slope to loneliness, boredom, etc. so it is important to stay positive and think of things to help inspire and energize you for your day like these individuals have done. 


Sending my love to all!

“what is art?” #18 – support

It is no question we are living through a historical time right now. 


Universally, the virus has caused a long list of changes and it is easy for all of us to focus on the negative that is occurring/has occurred. However, it is also important to seek out the positive and encourage others to do the same. 


This past week was supposed to be the in-person 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) at The Michigan Theater showcasing over a hundred films from filmmakers all around the world. Despite the virus causing the week-long social festival to be called off, the festival team decided to search for an online method to display their scheduled film programs.


The staff successfully switched their gears to this odd new online festival with the help of Vimeo’s streaming services. Since Tuesday, the team at the AAFF has been able to do a week-long live stream of the entire on-screen program schedule and have received many praises because of it. 


Along with their streaming service, the Ann Arbor Film Festival has been using their Instagram to connect viewers with encouraging them to post pictures tagging #AAFFLIVE. From the AAFF reposting images of audience members from wherever they call quarantine home, they have accomplished creating the admirable and wonderful community they are widely known to create every year at the theater. 


COVID-19 has surely made a dent in everyone’s social activities but with the help of organizations like the Ann Arbor Film Festival we are able to get through it a little easier. 


As we support coronavirus relief efforts, we must continue our loyalty to the art community. The arts are a vital part of our society therefore we all need to remember to protect its existence. 


The Ann Arbor Festival ends tomorrow with a couple of feature films and the award screenings. If you have spare time I encourage you all to check out their schedule and live stream itself.


I hope you all are safe and healthy and continue to stay this way! Sending my wishes 🙂

“what is art?” #17 – “I Voted”

Yesterday on campus there was the normal swarm of students filling the diag traveling from class to class. However, in addition to the usual crowd was their “I Voted” stickers that traveled with them. 


As the primary elections roared through the state of Michigan so did the voices of students on campus. Many advocated for their chosen candidate and/or encouraged others to vote by giving out information on how to register. This past week, I couldn’t go into any building or even walk outside on campus without another student trying to give me a flyer or asking me if I have registered to vote yet with a clipboard in hand. 


On my way to my polling station yesterday I wondered if I was going to get a sticker. Dumb… I know. However, after seeing everyone on campus with some and watching people in past elections receive them I really wanted one too. I became curious on my walk to the polls and my walk home after why I wanted a sticker to wear and why they are so significant in our community. 


The “I Voted” stickers weren’t always in high demand as they are today. In the 1980s, the production of these stickers really picked up the pace but it wasn’t until recent elections where you can see the impact a small 2”x2” sticker has. “Why has this happened?” you may be asking…drumroll please………..social media! People post and post and post about their stickers but then I asked myself another question. Why do we want to post about a sticker? 


I began to reflect, “How do I feel when wearing a voting sticker?” I started listing off emotions I felt in my head and came to the conclusion that personally, it made me feel proud to have completed my civic duty. Additionally, I realized my sticker gives me a sense of belonging to a community because everyone around me also taking part in this action. 


I started to ask my friends how they felt when they wore the sticker and likewise, they too felt proud and a sense of community. I also found out some note that the stickers can make them feel socially accepted because they have done their civic duty. The sticker itself creates a sense of peer pressure to vote and if someone doesn’t have one it does the expected reverse effect of making an individual feel like they don’t belong. Wearing the simple sticker builds a social connection amongst one another and as a human(surprise!) I can relate to my friends in wanting to be a part of this opportunity to vote.  


I did some further research on the importance of the “I Voted” sticker and found that there are also other ways the sticker is symbolic, specifically in connection to giving women the right to vote. I discovered after the elections in New York women visit the Mount Hope Cemetery to place their stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave. Susan B. Anthony as most know was the first female to try and vote in the 1872 election and was arrested for doing so. She advocated for women’s suffrage and unfortunately didn’t live to see the 19th Amendment become enacted. After elections in recent years, women have been coming to her grave to show their gratitude in her fight for women’s suffrage and reflect on their privilege to be a part of a government that grants them the right to vote. 


The “I Voted” sticker can be looked upon as a silly little badge but it also is incredibly symbolic in our democratic society and shows the opportunity our country gives us. To be able to vote is an obvious civic right to us but in many other places, the right to vote can only be imagined. The stickers on election day are various in design and shape but in the end, they all have the same meaning and give us all the same sense of pride and belonging.


(image from https://ventrellaquest.com/2013/11/04/why-voting-in-off-season-elections-is-still-important/ )

“what is art?” #16 – Kelly Gallagher and animation

Animation is a type of art that challenges the beholder to define what it is and what it can be. A majority of individuals claim animation is the art that can be mostly found within Pixar, Anime, Cartoon Network, etc. However, animation is an art that fits a wide array of moving image styles. Yesterday I dropped in on the foundation 4D Studio course lecture to find out more from the young and wise artist, Kelly Gallagher

Based in Syracuse, New York, Gallagher is an experimental filmmaker who focuses on pushing the boundaries of the term “animator”. Gallagher creates her pieces with cut out collages, 16mm found/”confiscated” footage, 16mm clear leader, oil paint, etc. She finds it more joyful to create her work with her hands rather than digitally. In her lecture, she explained her initial interest in animation was based on its visible labor. She enjoys how animations display the long and challenging process and how it proves the investment of an artist to portray that story. Gallagher additionally enjoys the production of creating work with low technology materials. She attempts “to call attention to form and accessible practices for filmmakers” by using readily available tools to prove that anyone can create art and a discussion just like her. She even talked to us college students about how she uses a 10+ year old Nikon camera and a DIY rig/animation set up to create her widely known films. It was exciting to hear this news because today I feel like we are constantly being pressured into buying new technology to be the best artist we can be. However, in actuality, Gallagher challenges this idea and proves what we create isn’t defined by those products but in turn how we use them to our advantage. 

Kelly Gallagher addresses political questions and issues as well as stories of resistance through her animation. She looks to explore how to use film as a tool “to re-open, re-discuss, re-discover forgotten or untold histories” and use it as a means of confrontation. She believes she can create an impact with her thrilling visuals and get more to be involved with the topics she brings to light. One of my favorite moments Gallagher shared with us is when she told us her art is inspired by “love+rage”. Love for the art. Rage for the fire inside of her that wants to share these hidden stories. 

Kelly Gallagher is an extraordinary creator and brilliant speaker. After the lecture, you could see the eyes lit with a curiosity about what animation can be. Gallagher’s work challenges the way we see what animation is and also inspires others to investigate further how they can make their own. Animation itself pushes boundaries of its terminology and is an example of how art labels can be widely interpreted and not limited to the conventional kind. 

For more information on Kelly Gallagher visit her website or vimeo page!




“what is art?” #15 – Ariel Friedlander, “Queer As In”

As an art student, it is inevitable to meet people with different art practices and messages. As an art student at the U of M… this theory is further expanded because the art school is within a larger university. There is an infinite amount of opportunity here and one of my favorite parts about being a student in Ann Arbor is getting to see others use art as a form of discussion and watch them grow at the same time as myself. 


One of my favorite artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is Ariel Friedlander. I met her in my 2D Studio course that we were both taking as a requirement. I learned that she is both an art and art history major and I grew to like Ariel not only because of her personality and artwork but also because of her innate ability to constantly challenge our assignments and professor. Her confidence with what she was creating inspired me and continues to inspire me and how I create my own work.

In class I watched Ariel make art pertaining to her Jewish, queer, and diabetic identities. I loved watching her connect these ideas and start discussions about intersectionality as well as also focusing on pushing boundaries of other topics. My favorite moments were when she made individuals in our class and our professor question what something meant and then hear her educated and organized response back. 

Ariel is always churning out a multitude of work at a time and is constantly updating her social media with the work she creates. It is great to watch her build a community with her art especially when she posts about her travels.  

She recently has been working on curating a portrait photography and text series, “Queer As In”. In this project, she explores, “the nuances of queer identity through collaboration with self-identified queer individuals.” Ariel had noticed banners and pickets with slogans like “Queer as in fuck you” or “Queer as in abolish ICE” from activist experiences. This inspired her to create this series and have the model she photographed “fill in the blank with a
word they feel is important to their LGBTQ identity.” The color on the portraits are chosen by the model as the color they believe connects the most with their word. The final arrangement shows the photos creating one large pride flag. 


Tonight from 7-9pm in the Michigan League’s first floor lobby is the opening of her “Queer As In” art exhibition on campus. The show will be up from February 11th until March 13th and is sponsored by Spectrum Center and RC.  

As a community, it is important to show up to events and art shows like this to show support and interest. The effort of trying to learn and have an open mind is what sometimes is the most important part of the shows themselves. Ariel’s work is 110% worth the time to check out and I recommend you all go either tonight or within the next month to see her stunning curation. 



Hope to see you there! 🙂

P.S. Check out her cool ass earrings on her Etsy account!

P.P.S. Photo creds to her Instagram!