Looking Forward: Mentality Magazine

Happy Saturday!

We are rapidly approaching the end of the semester which means I only have a couple of posts left. This week I’m posting a day late because my organization, MUSIC Matters, held our biggest event of the year. If you attended SpringFest day festival or the night concert featuring Hippo Campus – I just want to say thank you. We all appreciate it so much and hope that you enjoyed it. 

Moving on, this week we are talking about Mentality Magazine! I had the opportunity to speak to Liz Hoornstra, the current editor-in-chief of the publication. She explained that the magazine aims to do two main things: 1. Create a sense of community for its members and 2. Destigmatize mental health through writing. As someone who has been focusing on taking control of my mental health for the past year, I was really excited to learn more about how the magazine has done this and how others can support their mission!

Mentality Magazine typically publishes digital issues, with a printed copy done once a semester. This semester marks an exciting milestone for the organization: 10 printed publications (and 5 years of being an org on campus!). Some of the topics they’ve been focusing on most recently deals with the impact that the pandemic and racial injustice towards the BIPOC and AAPI communities have had on peoples’ mental health. This follows in their larger commitment to diversifying the magazine’s staff and writing focuses, including highlighting marginalized voices in mental health discussions. I was excited to hear that they’re taking on these topics so directly, as they have affected us all in different ways over the past year and are, in many ways, directly tied to some of the most widespread mental struggles on campus. 

Mentality Magazine has also recently partnered with steps wellness, “the mental wellness platform for college students”. The platform helps connect students to licensed therapists, provides safe, private spaces for them to have therapy sessions in person or through video call, and allows them to share and read about their peers’ experiences with mental health. This is something that I found incredibly important. Especially in college living situations with many roommates and with most therapy sessions being virtual right now, it can be hard to find a space where you can talk about your struggles without worrying if others will overhear or barge in. This partnership shows that Mentality Magazine is really committed to helping students at every level of their mental wellness journey.

Liz also explained to me that COVID has sparked some important conversations regarding mental health equity and accessibility, things that people were sometimes skittish to talk about before.

“We welcome any and all members to Mentality, but we also are very open that mental health is not a topic that you can be apolitical about and we have to recognize that, holding a space in the mental health community here at Michigan means that there are certain times when we cannot stay silent. I hope that going forward, that is something that we are prioritizing.”

If you’re interested in getting involved in Mentality Magazine, you are welcome to join at any point! They look for writers all through the year, so you don’t have to join at the beginning of the year or semester. You can visit mentalitymagazine.org and fill out the contact form and a member of their exec team will get back to you about the next steps. If you don’t have enough time to be a writer, or that’s not your personal skill set, you can still do other things to help support the magazine and its important mission on campus! Reading and sharing articles is so important – de-stigmatization can’t happen without conversation. 

That’s all from me this week! Thank you so much for reading and I will be back next week with my last post of the semester featuring a capella group 58 Greene!

Stay safe & stay well,


Art Biz with Liz: Assimilated

Happy Friday, Arts, Ink. Readers!

In case you aren’t tired of seeing my amateur paintings yet, here is one I created today. I’m not sure of the title yet, but I’ve been thinking of calling it “Assimilated.”

I hope you are able to take a moment for yourself as the semester winds down. If you’re looking for something to do, I highly recommend turning towards art – such as painting – for stress relief. As evident by my work, you don’t need to have experience or artistic ability to enjoy it!

Looking Forward: Thus Spoke Ann Arbor

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to Feiran Li, President of Thus Spoke Ann Arbor and Director of their upcoming show. 

Thus Spoke is a Chinese drama group that typically hosts two shows per year. The winter show is bigger than the fall, usually involving 20-25 people compared to the 10 or so earlier in the year. This year, however, Thus Spoke has opted to perform only one show due to COVID. This show has a staff that is mixed remote and in-person, with weekly testing and masking/distancing policies on the Ann Arbor campus. This testing regimen is something that Feiran is quite proud of, explaining that they asked their members to participate in weekly testing a bit earlier than the university did. The show has also moved from being an in-person event in Mendelssohn to being completely virtual. 

Although they have found a successful model to publish the show despite the pandemic, Feiran told me that he misses the in-person audience interaction. This has been a theme across student organizations that I’ve spoken to this year. Just being able to perform together in-person is not quite enough; the audience participation and reaction is half of the performance. The energy of the performers buildsoff of the audiences’ cheers, and comments on Zoom or YouTube are just not the same, especially when the performance has to be recorded prior to the premiere. 

Next year, Thus Spoke is looking forward to returning to in-person meetings and performances, hoping that the distance of this year will help them appreciate the benefits of being together even more than before. If you’re interested in getting involved in Thus Spoke, there are many opportunities! They tend to recruit in the Fall and Winter semesters, and you can keep updated with what they’re doing by subscribing to their YouTube channel, liking their Facebook page, or reaching out via their Maize Page. They also incorporate new members into their productions, so you could have the opportunity to be a part of one of their shows your first year in the organization!

That’s all from me this week! Thanks so much for reading. 

Stay safe,


Art Biz with Liz: Reflecting on my Asian Identity and Dinh Q. Lê’s Interconfined

On Wednesday morning, I woke to news of a hate crime that left 8 murdered in Georgia. As an Asian American, there are plenty of thoughts swirling in my head surrounding the event. In a time when crime targeting Asian Americans has risen given a perceived association with the coronavirus, it’s interesting to tackle what my Asian identity means to me.

The same Wednesday, I also received my weekly email from the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). UMMA brings art straight to my inbox, something that’s been convenient given the pandemic. The subject line #StopAAPIhate caught my attention, and in addition to art, the email contained information about an event and podcast focused on recent anti-Asian and anti-Asian American violence. The art of this week? Dinh Q. Lê’s mixed media piece Interconfined.

Image comprised of three figures with the central figure interwoven between a Buddhist statue and a Christ-like figure in a red robe. The material of the work is cut into strips and is woven together.
Dinh Q. Lê’s Interconfined

The artist, Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnamese name: Lê Quang Đỉnh), was born in 1968. He is most known for his photography and photo-weaving techniques. According to the UMMA website, many of his works refer to the Vietnam War. Concepts and themes of memory and its relationship with the present are also featured. This work, Interconfined, has three figures, with the central figure being interwoven between a Buddhist statue and a Christ-like figure. The central figure is none other than the artist himself.

For Dinh Q. Lê, a Vietnamese American multimedia artist, the piece represents the “struggle of finding one’s identity as an Asian immigrant (represented by the Buddha) in a Western, Eurocentric world (represented by Jesus)” (UMMA Exchange). This is tastefully represented by how the material in the art piece is cut into strips and is woven together. As a mixed Asian American, I’m inclined to consider how the piece represents being torn between two worlds, or stuck in the middle of two cultures. There are also themes of connectivity in play; the central figure is strategically overlapping the figures of Buddha and Jesus Christ, perhaps suggesting how they – or more so, what they both represent – are found within him.

I come from different ethnic backgrounds, with some parts of me more visible than others. They all, however, comprise who I am. I think of my mother, who experiences a divide tenfold as an immigrant, carrying a mixed bag of stories, traditions, and customs. In the US, we are constantly forging new traditions and identities as cultures and people collide, learning from one another and creating a mixing pot that should serve as a a place for liberty and justice for all. I say should, because as the recent hate crimes have demonstrated, we still have a long way to go as a nation. Being Asian is something that often “othered” me in my youth, and just as I began to found my voice in college, I found myself being shut down by a society that still casts me as an outsider. But just as the central figure in Dinh Q. Lê’s work stands strong, so can we. His work could not have popped into my inbox at a better time, and I am glad for a piece that resonates in such a remarkable way.

Looking Forward: Sirens A Capella

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

It’s a good day to be a Wolverine. With the news of vaccine eligibility increasing in Michigan sooner than many anticipated and President Schissel’s announcement of a closer-to-normal looking Fall semester plan (let’s not forget the exciting win of our basketball team, either!), things are looking up for the campus. Of course, until we get a larger portion of our community vaccinated and further recommendations from the CDC + state officials, we all need to continue doing our part to socially distance, gather in small groups and preferably outdoors, and wear masks. Hopefully, though, we will be able to create together again in the near-ish future. My fingers are crossed!

For this week’s spotlight, I chatted with Hannah deSilvia, Business Manager for Sirens A Capella. She told me a little bit about how the Sirens have adjusted to COVID restrictions while still building strong relationships between members and creating amazing music. Let’s dive in!

“We’re just a really tight-knit group of girls that likes to sing and we work collaboratively all semester to put our repertoire together and have our concert at the end of the semester normally. We really emphasize, like, building friendships and having fun, especially now because that’s something that we don’t get to do and we often miss each other, so we try and make the most of our time together.”

This year the group has moved their rehearsals to being completely virtual, a transition they started to plan for over the summer. Although Zoom doesn’t effectively allow the group to sing synchronously together, they’ve found ways to still make this time productive by allowing individuals to sing their part alone while others mute their sound and sing along. Hannah also explained that they’ve made their rehearsals a little more of a relaxed and flexible space – spending a little more time than they normally would to catch up and talk about things. It helps them feel more connected despite not having some of those more casual conversations as you walk into the building or get settled in. 

Rather than performing a concert like usual, the group decided to focus their energy on recording music – something that they could do remotely, and individually. The group has recorded music before (you can check out their song “Talia” on Spotify) but they typically did so in a physical studio. Although it was a little bit of a learning curve, the girls made the best of it and the recordings are being mixed now. 

April 20th will be Siren A Capella’s 10th anniversary, a special milestone for the group. No spoilers, but I would definitely recommend you keep an eye on their Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube pages in case they drop some fun content to celebrate. The group will also be holding auditions in the Fall – so if you’re a singer, warm up those pipes and stay tuned for more details in the first few weeks of the semester. 

That’s all from me this week! I hope you all have a fun and safe Saint Patrick’s Day. Come back next week for a spotlight on the Korean Student Association.