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The Art of Involvement #3

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Reflections on the event “Silenced and Forgotten Palestinian Literature and Art” lead by Arabic Language and Culture Club, with support from SJP

This piece acts as a reflection surrounding poetry as a part of the Palestinian identity and Free Palestine Movement, observed by me as a student on the University of Michigan-Dearborn Campus.

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

Mahmoud Darwish, Under Siege

As far as I know, there has always been an organization called “Students for Justice in Palestine” at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Of course, I know that there is a strong Arab American community in Dearborn, and I knew that there was a Center for Arab American Studies, but I hadn’t seen as many events as I do now. Maybe I did, but as a white person, never felt like it was my place to attend them. 

It is only in the last 6 months with the emergence of protests, collective action, and a flurry of educational events being organized on my campus that I have begun to understand that I can choose to take an active role in allyship, that it wouldn’t be “intrusive” to be in spaces that needed to reach people like me.  I regrettably have to admit that I am not the fierce advocate I should be, but I am learning. 

Meeting new people and learning more about the long-standing oppression of the Palestinians has been a key motivator in my desire to take action, speak, and yes, write on behalf of the cause of liberation. I’ve noticed that art and poetry in particular has been an effective way to share the historical oppression and genocide of the Palestinian people. Perhaps art makes the subject more accessible and cuts to the heart of human experience. In particular, how the human experience has been impeded and forced through unimaginable circumstances. Horror beyond my comprehension, yet life and hope remain.

I have now attended 2 events on Palestinian poetry. The first (which will be discussed in this post) featured poems presented by UM-D professors. Due to a late start and my carpooling, I was only able to attend the first part of the event. I took notes as I listened in an effort to get the most out of the poem scholarly analysis that followed, and this post is based on these notes and my reflections of an event I attended months ago and just decided to write about now due to its impact on me and connection to other events.

As the event kicked off, it was clear we were not going to be thrown into the reading blindly. I appreciated the context established by the professors leading the event, who shared the history of the Palestinians and their decades long struggle with Israeli occupation, from the 1948 Nakba to current day. There was also special attention given to how and why those who seek to oppress target art and poetry: to control the creative is meant to control the thought and enforce submission to the regime in the spirit of the event: Silenced and Forgotten Palestinian Literature and Art.

We were told that there was and is a frequency of kidnapping and assassination of Palestinian’s who write about and question life under Israeli occupation, and my chest panged thinking of Refaat Alareer (whose poem “If I Must Die” follows me wherever I go) and countless other great thinkers, poets, artists, and journalists who have died under siege with their people.

We were also informed of a theme to seek out in the poem by Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish that would be read to us to start, and one I noted as particularly interesting was the theme of the Palestinian body. The control of the Palestinian body, the loss of legal rights and the right to live were mentioned, as well as the Palestinian body as a symbol for the people and the land. In my notes, I inscribed the body being “not a passive object or victim, but a fighter.” The body is not defeated. And often, it feels like the body is all can be had.

My steps are wind and sand, my world is my body
and what I can hold onto.
I am the traveler and also the road.
Gods appear to me and disappear.
We don’t linger upon what is to come.
There is no tomorrow in this desert, save what we saw yesterday,
so let me brandish my ode to break the cycle of time,
and let there be beautiful days!

– Mahmoud Darwish, A Rhyme for The Odes

This event was crafted in a way that made art a vehicle for learning more about history, the political situation Palestine is afflicted by, the silence and betrayal coming from their neighboring nations, and connecting with the experiences of Palestinians. All of these intricate topics were tied into discussion through a poem recounting a story of martyrdom, Ahmad al Zatar.

This is why art has an essential role in resistance. For oppressed people, art is not only a way to communicate but a way to exercise their humanity and spirit which their oppressors attempt to crush completely. However, for those seeking to be allies, art is just an entry point to the broader movement and conversation. Art brings us together, but we bear the responsibility to not only engage in, but maintain the dialogue prompted by art in hopes that it sparks action to shape a better world.

The Art of Involvement #2

The Art of Involvement: The Unfortunate Need to Rest

“Time is a wall we all share” and there are so few doors. I am unsatisfied. I am always unsatisfied.  

I write this with a pounding headache, while eating half of a chocolate chip cookie for dinner. It’s that time of the year: burnout central. Most would call it midterms. I know I am most definitely not alone in my exhaustion this week. Being a student is demanding, not to mention someone who chases passion and community around as much as I do while having to drive 30 minutes there and back, and work, and meet with friends, and… Well, you get the idea. 

Art is wonderful, and art is something that feeds me and drains me all at once. I definitely think it’s something worth the extra effort to support. I am always swept away by how much I love being around people that value art as much as I do, but as much as I loathe to admit it, I can’t experience it all. 

Even now, as I dedicate this small amount of time to expressing myself, I know I could be relaxing. Soaking in the tub or annoying my cat with unwarranted kisses sounds wonderful. I also know that I regret it when I don’t force myself to sit down and write. I find myself too often taking a passive role in my own life, scrolling endlessly through mind-numbing content rather than reflect, engage, and create on my own terms. 

I avoid life because work and school are already quite enough, thank you very much, but then I feel less myself… It’s a dilemma I’ve always struggled with. 

My current solution is attending the events painstakingly put together by the people around me. I overcommit, of course. Not only am I a chronic people pleaser, but being busy tends to make me feel happier until I hit the wall. 

Hello again, wall. 

Part of the wall right now is due to my own spent energy in coordinating other things, such as the literary magazine, Lyceum. My baby. My creative outlet since Freshman year that I have struggle to let go of now that I’ve helped it hobble along for almost 4 whole years. Now we are getting over 50 people each semester to submit their work and its going great! Right before I have to leave. 

Graduation looms, and it’s exciting and terrifying all at once. And there’s another reason: I need to do everything I want to now, before I leave student life behind. A college campus is such a brief, wonderfully compact time and place to connect, explore, and grow. My time here feels like it’s been so brief (and partially it was, due to the shutdown that left me adrift in Zoom purgatory). I found my places and my interests, and it was only through me throwing my all into things and being open. I’d say my frantic attempts to avoid regret might end up rather successful. 

Here I am, tired and setting up for another full day tomorrow,  knowing I am not going to sleep enough tonight–head swimming with plays, drag shows, and open mics and I feel happy. I’m glad for the reminder of my personal limits as well… maybe it will click this time? It usually does, at least for a small stretch. Then I throw my alone time to the wind once more, only to be violently reminded that I am, in fact, an introvert. That I am, in fact, just human. 

For the record, this is not the post I wanted to write for this week, but it is the one that won’t leave me alone until I push it out of my system. And here I am, forcing you to be a witness. Isn’t that the nature of art? Maybe you relate, or roll your eyes, or award me with a brief nose-exhale. Maybe you don’t read this at all, but it’s still here for you.

And hey, my headache feels better.

Of course the sun stretches itself so wide, to touch all that it can
I want to scatter too, selfishly. Afraid to lose touch. 
Do not compel me, put the focusing lens away I will wash 
All in fragile warmth / Sustaining.

italicized entries from my journal, 4/1/23
Round green shapes of varying sizes glow against the black background. The text reads, "Immersive."

Immersive #10: Semester Insights

As the college semester comes to a close so too does this semester’s Immersive section come to an end. From the nine different features written this semester, we’ve been exposed to several different ways to engage an audience with a creative project and to put a new spin on traditional methods of storytelling, which have left us with three key insights that we can take inspiration from for our own personal projects and stories to make them more engaging:

First, unconventional media creates intrigue from a lack of pre-existing expectations.

  • Scarfolk Council (#2): Utilizing aesthetics from the past combined with off-kilter imagery can invoke an eerie yet compelling sense of nostalgia.
  • Birds Aren’t Real (#3): Portraying subtle criticism through popular culture and memes allows for satirical messages to be spread without being taken too seriously.
  • The Sun Vanished (#6): Watching a story unfold real-time through social media creates suspense through the wait between posts and allows it to blend into the noise of everyday life.
  • 17776 (#7): Embracing absurdity and taking inspiration from a diverse range of topics can create something fresh that compels an audience to read more to learn about the areas of interest.

Second, non-linear narratives make player choice worthwhile.

  • AI Dungeon (#4): Involving AI to create original narratives allows for players to take agency over the story that is presented to them and create something uniquely their own.
  • Hades (#5): Creating evolving stories based around player choice makes every decision impactful and pursued with care.
  • Fallen London (#8) – Leaving room for elaboration within a story enables creators to have flexibility in writing future content in the same universe and creates intrigue within an audience to learn more about the world.

Third, intentional design reinforces the purpose of the story in a meaningful manner.

  • Life in a Day (#1): Drawing from community-based submissions allows for a more diverse yet unified experience to be portrayed on screen.
  • Loving Vincent (#9): Being true to the purpose of the project during all stages of production allows for the audience to also feel all the love and passion as well when observing the final result.

Overall, there are many more insights that each feature contributes to the discussion on creating immersive content that can be found within their own individual posts, but just from these short snip-bits of advice, we can truly see how the choices that a creator makes during the production process can have a significant impact on how an audience engages with and talks about the final product.

Read more Immersive content: HERE

From the Eyes of an Architecture Student: Methods to Become A Better Designer

Hi everyone!

I’m back again, to discuss this week’s topic: methods to become a better designer.

Honestly, I was a bit hesitant on how to title this week’s discussion topic… mainly because I wasn’t sure if there was an actual, formal title for  it, other than just “practice” in preparation for architecture as a professional discipline in the real world.

Precisely, unlike medical students, who have cadavers to poke and cut into, or computer science students who have actual coding websites to get some very realistic, representative practice, we architecture students don’t have such a staple medium to “practice” being designers with.

In a way, yes, assignments and projects can be considered “practice” since we are expected to use our designing minds to create our own unique creations out of each given prompt, but they’re more of the education aspect of design school. We design things, get critiqued, and keep coming back to produce our own hypothetical solutions to design problems. However, I oftentimes this is more educational, because this process seems to be more about meshing our minds in a certain way as designers. Design school is meant to shape our thinking process (which I find leads to more aesthetics than technicality in problem solving in design, rather than shaping how we should be critically thinking as designers. However, this seems to be the case in most design schools now, as there seems to be a sort of identity crisis within architecture; almost like an argument about what power we do or should have as architects, and our place in the world.

Aesthetics is the way to the eyes of the consumers of buildings, which I often find is the way to build initial intrigue about the building; it’s essentially the same with people. Take Tinder for instance, you swipe left on either seemingly boring people, or unattractive people, and you swipe right for those you find as a match for your values, or physically attractive- it is our eyes that decide the initial interest. I find that this is the same reason why designers seem more concerned about the aesthetics in design. In design, aesthetics of your proposal representation not only softens critics’ hearts, but also serves quite effectively in capturing the interests of those outside of design who say, “I don’t know what that is or what it means, but it looks cool!” Our representation not only serves as the communication mechanism between us and our critics, or clients, it also serves as our method of marketing ourselves as a brand in the real world (in terms of applications to jobs, internships, and graduate schools). Perhaps it seems this way because of my limited experience as an undergraduate. From the glimpses of graduate students’ work, it seems more technicality comes in graduate level education, but even then, I find it should still be necessary to have a cohesive educational experience in terms of always being thoughtful about our designs and staying true to what real-world consequences they would have in the real world. Perhaps our undergraduate experience is suppose to serve as just an introduction to the mechanics behind being a designer, and its purpose is just to market ourselves to get jobs in either firms, or appear as attractive candidates in graduate school applications.

I have always thought about this topic, but only gotten more critical in views after my current experience of  “rodeo reviews” in class, where everyone in our third semester studio had to pin-up for presentations, and we we basically split into halves and rotated around so we could have the experience as the presenter, but also critics of each other’s work. Sounds kind of fun and casual, right? You get to show your friends your cool work, and even speak with other sections’ professors… which isn’t an incorrect description of what it was. I just spoke with classmates and gauged two types of mindsets about this whole presentation method: critical (not finding it that useful), versus positive (thought it was a nice new, different experience). Of course, there is the factor that it really depends on your luck and what students you had as your critics, or maybe even what region you were assigned to pin-up in. But, generally, it seemed that the issue was that we were just sprung onto this unfamiliar role of being forced to give specific people feedback- the selections were completely random, so most people found that they were reviewing the works of students they never really got to know, and just being put on the spot to say useful things to help others improve their work.

It was then that it struck me that being a designer is not just about being good at communicating your own ideas to the world, or making your own work look cool. It also includes the ability to understand unfamiliar work from just reading their drawings, or listening to their one presentation and asking them a few questions. What’s its relevance? Well, I’m sure at one point you’ll be forced to reflect on a colleague’s work, and it’s not too great if you just blankly stare at them or their work. Or, say you’re working with someone new and they’re not able to be there to tell you about their work and just left you to read their work temporarily. It’s good to be independent and have the ability to understand other’s work, and have a view that you can offer. I find that this ability often coincides with our own abilities to understand our own work and be able to concisely portray it in a compelling manner.

Oftentimes, I’ve found difficulties in reading others’ work from their drawings, or maybe even an uncompleted model that they have. And, it’s still something I need to work on, even though I recognized my own (ever-improving) growth in my own project’s proposal representation. But this rodeo review really opened up my eyes to that observation, and the way that I was really glad that my improvements in my own representation seems to have opened my mind to this newfound ability to understand others’ work and what they have drawn or modeled, and draw upon my own experiences to give them helpful feedback to improve the way they can further portray their ideas more effectively and clearly. I used to find reviewing other people’s work a bit boring, and super irrelevant to my own work, but now I am grateful to say I can finally understand why our education is designed in such a way to allow for this sort of learning to occur.

It also occurs to me that this isn’t the only way to become a better designer. I can continue learning and applying these skills to real firm’s proposals, and perhaps offering memorable and helpful insight to firms during interviews or the actual internship. And it would circle back to helping me step back from my own work, and be able to see flaws in my representation rather than having always been so dependent upon my professors’ feedback to help me decide on what views to produce for my proposals.


Well, that’s all for this week!

So excited to write again next week!

Ciao 🙂


This past school year has been one of great artistic inspiration. Whether it be the talent on campus, the world outside of school, or the spark within ourselves, there have been many opportunites to learn and grow as art-lovers. My experience has been one more from the outside world. The many great minds and talents within the world is truly astonishing. It has opened my eyes to all that can occur from turning a thought into an inventive action.

I encourage the musicians out there to keep creating. Your lyrics and tunes are transformative and can take listeners to another place.

I encourage the actors/actresses/thespians to continue inspiring viewers through you passion. You are the well-crafted tools to creating stories that sometimes are hard for us to see.

I encourage writers to continue exploring the great dreams that are in your heads and in this world, and continue writing it down for us readers to marvel at for years to come.

I encourage the photographers/painters/sculptors to continue transforming visions in you mind and visions of the world into tangible objects. Your work is living proof that greatness is in the eye of the beholder.

I encourage designers to continue to be amazing, for you give us art to walk around in, art to scroll through our computers on, art to get lost in our video games in.

I encourage the producers/advisors/experts/dreamers/consultants to keep supporting and helping the great art that comes across your way. You are the backbone to every movement and continue to push these creators to be their best.

This school year for Arts Ink has been great, and I will see you all soon to see where this upcoming year takes us.

Mid-Fall Reflections

So I have a problem. It’s not a particularly big or important problem. It’s just a problem. But it’s affecting me in a pretty big way.

Today, Wednesday (or early Thursday morning, depending on how quickly I get this done…oops), is my posting day for arts, ink. I love this blog. I love it to death. I sometimes wonder how I got on the blog and how the idea to let me write about arts in whatever way I want is somewhat questionable, but overall, I think it’s great.

So all day, I’ve been thinking about this blog, thinking about what I want to write about. First, it was a conversation with a new co-worker of mine, and how it ties into how I experience art, specifically theatre. But then I read the news about A Series of Unfortunate Events, how Netflix is making it into an original TV series. I also read about the pervasiveness of sex on broadcast television, and how shows nowadays are pushing the boundaries. Last week was my first creative writing workshop, maybe I can talk about that?

You see, I have the opposite of writer’s block at the moment. There’s just so much to talk about and only one day a week to do it. News comes out every day about art, especially popular media like the TV shows we watch weekly. I can barely keep up. And that’s excluding the influence of my classes, how we talked about T.S. Eliot today and his poetry and how his later poems shifted into something that countered his earlier ideas and standards for poetry, and how no one who wasn’t already established as a brilliant poet (like T.S. Eliot) could ever publish the Four Quartets as their first poem.

All of this, everything combined, it makes me wonder…am I getting repetitive in my blogs? Lather, rinse, repeat. Movies, theatres, TV shows, writing.

I;m willing to chalk it up to the amazing experience I;m having at this University, how here I’m overexposed to art, and I can get my quick fix like a junkie looking for his next high as easily as I can walk down to the CC and get a passport. I’m just wondering if any of my fellow Inksters feel the same way, like they talk about the same things over and over again in a cycle, desperately trying to find artistic meaning in the forms available to us as burgeoning writers, engineers, business women, lawyers, nutritionists. Are there really no new stories to tell, in nonfiction as well as fiction?