REVIEW: COSTUMES – 2022 Fall Ann Arbor StorySLAMS at The Blind Pig

The Moth StorySLAM was a hit! 

If you’ve never heard of Moth, this is how StorySLAMs work: 

StorySLAMs are a night of storytelling. Ten brave souls volunteer to tell a five-minute story, which are given scores. The story crowned with the highest score moves on to compete at the Moth Grand Slam. In between each five-minute story, there are also story slips (strips?), which are anonymous 140-character micro stories that are shared in between each storyteller. The story slip prompt was, tell us about a time the mask came off. 


“True stories. Told. Live. No costumes, props, visual aids.”

The theme of the night was Costumes. This compiled into stories about prized garments, wigs, dyed hair, Halloween, costumes for the sake of survival, and revealing your true self. 

In a way, the clothes we wear are our daily costume, as the event had described. As soon as the host, Amir, described his attire as “recently fired from Hogwarts,” I knew the night could only be going good places.

My friend Isabel and I wrote our story slips with her copywriter skills obliterating my wordy ramble. 

Being one of the youngest people in the room, with big fat sharpied Xs profaning both of my hands, it felt weird to see all the adults of Ann Arbor sip their cocktails on my left and right, laughing boisterously at the host’s jokes. It felt like I was at the filming of a sitcom. All the laughs felt fake, like someone pressed a remote and a ‘LAUGH’ sign lit up and cued a sound effect from the audience. I sipped my water and swallowed this new taste of sophisticated fun.

The three teams of judges were specially handpicked from the audience: people who were completely unburdened by expertise, with no experience whatsoever under their belts. At least one person would be telling a part of their lives to an audience for the first time in their lives.

… And the fate of these storytellers was in the hands of judges named The Ghostbusters, The Mothman (“…Moth is a copywriter trade mark” – Amir), and Witch, please.

I’m afraid I can’t do justice to the ten stories that were told, and I wish you could just hear them yourself. To boil it down, there were stories about clown sex, sexy Beetlejuice Halloween attire and hand-me-down tank tops, a fiberglass back brace from the eighties, designing yoga clothes, working with a trauma patient, a lawyer dying her hair, seeing the sea for the first time, misunderstandings from an eyepatch, a pleated drinking skirt named Alice, and a closeted trans woman who played the part of a male pastor for years until she found the freedom of not pretending.

To our complete shock, Isabel’s anonymous story slip was pulled first, mine second. My first Moth experience was off to a great start.

Amir walked up to the mic, unfolded my slip, and read: “I ran over a grandma with a bike. Wheel punched her leg, my chin got chucked. Mask heavy, soaked red, pooled with blood, it fell off.”


Then the room exploded. Amir went on a tangent. “You’re not focused on the right mask, it’s not all about you! You’re worried about your mask when Calin’s (the sexy beetlejuice girl) grandma is lying on the ground, clutching her spaghetti straps, wheezing out her last?!!”

A few more of the good ones:

“When I first met my girlfriend I used to hold my farts. Now that she’s in love with me I toot to my heart’s content.”

“Took him home. We did it. My wig came off.” 

By the end of the night I had no idea which story would win; all of them were phenomenal, unexpected, fantastic. A guy did the math on the whiteboard. We drumrolled.

…..It was 3-way tie! (A drunken holler of “3-way!!!” from an audience member.) In this scenario, they decided to take the highest individual score, which had been Johanna’s (the ex-pastor and proud trans woman, who no longer bears the burden of being in costume)!

The night ended with a late night Blank Slate run where we ran into the host of the show. We psyched ourselves up to own up to the stories we wrote (Listen Amir… I’m the one who ran over that grandma…), but he grabbed his cone in a brisk blur and the door jingled on his way out, coattail fluttering before it closed shut. The universe didn’t want us to confess.

I’ll definitely be joining the next StorySLAM in November! There’s no telling how the night will go with Moth, where its wispy wings might take you. The clown sex story is a testament to that.

REVIEW: Pressed Against My Own Glass


Entering the exhibit felt like walking into a home. In the doorway, I paused and thought, should I take my shoes off? 

I walked in to look at the first painting, and backed up a little seeing how big it was. Am I allowed to stand on this carpet? I wondered. Knowing the reappropriated furniture had originally come from the artist’s own home, and being used to the etiquette of museums, Pressed Against My Own Glass was refreshing in its way of inviting you in to interact with the art. 

The first painting stares at you with a piercing gaze that scrutinizes you and feels alive. Looking into your soul without so much as a raised eyebrow or any tell of effort being put into making up their expression, makes the gaze all the more powerful and unnerving. So much that I forgot to photograph her. The subject is in an intimate space in the portrait, wearing just a shirt and no pants, sitting in an unmade bed. But I’m the one who feels stripped bare.

This theme of intimacy continued to bear itself through the rest of the room. There are diary entries on the wall on the same side as the door. Right away, you step into exclusive, individual territory. Anyone could have seen the murals, whether they wanted to or not, but those who have come to the exhibit have come by choice. Tatyana rewards and welcomes that. This sets the tone for the rest of the exhibit. 

To put your journal pages, scanned, then blown up on a wall is incredibly brave, I thought.

There were entries about accomplishments, revelations, longings, growing. I shared sentiments with all of them, but the final one I read in the bottom right corner is a moment I feel most women are familiar with. The chastising, the incredulity at our own selves, our own hearts. I’ve had the same feelings over feeling so much about a silly little man, so much that I write about them, and now it’s tucked in the pages here for anyone to read, forever. 

The cracked lampshade, the laminate album of rusted ink photographs; I was really coming into a home. How she could lay down something so personal in a public space, give it up for an exhibition, baffled me. I would want to keep those artifacts close, not letting them leave my bedroom bookshelf. Not even laying the photo album open on a table, only taking it out to indulge myself once a year or so. Tatyana’s courage to lay down so much of herself for others to view inspired me immensely to take more risks in my own art.


Something that especially delighted me was the writing. Since I was expecting pure visual art, I loved the poetry and journal entries and letters. Tatyana collages together a photo, mirror, sketch, earrings, and poetry on the second wall. I love the expression of the girl in the photograph because in its position of covering the poem’s body, her face says, I know you want to read this poem, but hahaha you can’t!

Following right after was the mirror where I fixed my headband. It surprised me to see myself while forgetting my existence, after a few minutes of just perusing through Tatyana’s world.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get more personal, I was brought to tears by Tatyana’s letter to her lifelong (lives long) friend who had passed away. It was while I was reading the letter that I ignored a call from my sister (probably exactly what Tatyana would have discouraged) because I was halfway through and wanted to see it to the end without interruption.

On the fourth wall, was a video projected over a large body of text. The audio included mellow and haunting hummings, the repeated chant of “I made / met peace up in my home,” and a woman in tears singing, “when I think of home, I think of a place where love overflows…”

The clips were calm moving stills. They displayed the motions within a home, like rolling over in bed, humming amidst housework. There were also home videos, facetime clips, a mother getting interviewed with a baby in her lap.

Beneath the projection, the piece reads, “despite the brutal reality of racial apartheid, of domination, one’s homeplace was the one site where one could freely confront the issue of humanization, where one could resist. Black women resisted by making homes where all black people could strive to be subjects, not objects, where we could be affirmed in our minds and hearts despite poverty, hardship, and deprivation, where we could restore to ourselves the dignity denied us on the outside in the public space of the world.” Put in context with the mural project, this exhibit demonstrated exactly that. The murals – all black and white, words bolded and illustrations blown up – were plastered high on buildings, yet, one could pass them without a glance. They resided in the outside world, where the weather’s starting to get colder, people are starting to rush, no time to take their time. The exhibit on the other hand, was lively with personality, colorful, secluded. A distinct sense of home: the oil paintings, personal artifacts, private words and stories. This is how it looks to see the full picture (even if we only uncover a small sense of a part of that person), while I understood the murals as how minorities are often perceived from the outside, paid attention to by onlookers: unsmiling, blunt, general statements, all grouped together. This makes spaces outside of the domestic household hard to feel truly like that of home, a sense of ease and comfort, “a small bit of earth where one rests.” Tatyana addresses this later in the passage: “An effective means of white subjugation of black people globally has been the perpetual construction of economic and social structures that deprive many folks of the means to make a homeplace.” The art was deeply personal and held many sentiments of loneliness, loss, and anguish, and yet, it definitely felt like a place of stillness, of silence, where one could “return for renewal and self-recovery, where we can heal our wounds and become whole.”

PREVIEW: Pressed Against My Own Glass

The last day to see Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art exhibition is this Friday, October 21st!

Pressed Against My Own Glass is a multimedia installation on Black womanhood within domestic spaces. “Fazlalizadeh explores her childhood and adulthood within the domestic space and how it connects to the experiences of other Black women and those who had a girlhood… While doing so, she makes connections to her Black women peers, even those like Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson who show how racist violence is a threat to Black women even in their homes.”

I’ve seen sneak peaks of Tatyana’s exhibit around campus, whether on a building on my way to my class at north quad, or the cardboard cutouts sitting on the grassy patches of the diag. I like the bluntness of her one-liner, accompanying statements with each portrait that point out flaws of the university and of her college experience. Each time I pass them, they feel like reminders to go to the exhibit, which I’ve been meaning to go to. I’m excited to see more of Tatyana’s art in the form of paintings, drawings, video, and reappropriated home objects, and the way she examines “her experiences of joy, rest, sadness, and fellowship in the home” through her art.

The exhibition is located at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery (202 S. Thayer Street). The gallery is open from Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm, and free and open to the public!

PREVIEW: Wendell & Wild

A great movie to get in the Halloween spirit! Director, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and producer Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) team up to bring us this new thrilling stop-animation feature, Wendell & Wild.

I haven’t watched a lot of animated movies like this, but the claymation-like style seems to work well in many October-themed movies: Coraline, Wallace and Gromit, The Book of Life, etc. There is just an unsettling, chill-inducing look about them, and Wendell and Wild’s trailer alone gave me goosebumps. 

The main character, Kat, is a Hell Maiden, who needs her school nun’s help to protect her from her demons. Two of which are brothers, who trick this teen girl into bringing them from the underworld into the land of the living; chaos ensues. Although the film seems to be quite under the radar, it’s highly anticipated, and features an all-star cast (including Key and Peele as the demon brothers)!

The horror comedy flick is rated PG-13, and comes out on October 28th, only on Netflix, right in time to embark into spooky season and Halloween weekend!

REVIEW: Journey of Self-Discovery

Journey of Self-Discovery was quite a journey, indeed. I spent a good forty minutes perusing the paintings, scoping out the sculptures.

Upon entering the gallery, I chatted with the facilitator, who told me that two-thirds of the art had already been sold, as Rich’s work at the Dude was for sale through donation, the proceeds of which went directly to support a local grass roots food pantry ministry that serves areas of Ann Arbor.

The whole gallery, every space in it, was filled with a rich arrangement of whimsical paintings and sculptures. (Pun slightly intended.)

Hallucinations made me a little sick to stare at, like an onslaught of auras about to precede a migraine. A dark, whirling enchanted forest; walk through the maze and you’ll get woozy.

In Ignite, some of the scratched-off paint and its meddled, worn-by-time quality echoed graffiti. “ROM” in the corner made me wonder what other words might be hidden. The piece had the playfulness of a childhood scribble where we’d take our nails to a paper of crayon and get wax curled beneath them, but also the mastery of someone whose paid years of practice.

Spark’s thin, intricate mess of scrapes creates texture and noise. Almost like nails scratching against walls, it feels chaotic yet harmonious. It is quite a feat to achieve a composition of random shapes and colors with no recognizable pattern, that doesn’t border on busy, or unbalanced.

Are you there? haunted me, just from the title. I looked into the abstract and tried to pull something out. It took a few seconds, but I couldn’t help seeing a baby in a womb, floating, unattached to an umbilical cord, living lost in the guts of a mother.

Balancing Act feels like a futuristic, hypertech playground world, or the next version of the board game Chutes and Ladders. 

Future Daze gave off the lonely monotony of a city. I got a glimpse into the banalities of the everyday life of a citygoer. Vibrating with texture and pulse, peering into the painting feels like getting caught in a daunting big place, where you feel like one of millions of others. But the muted palette gives a sense of calmness, dullness, of having gotten used to it, enough to call this bustling place home.

I can’t help seeing some kind of creature in Concentricity, like a silly red panda or raccoon, calling out to me with crossed eyes, just to make me double-take in disbelief.

Junk Drawer Wisdom – a very interesting title. As if claiming it may be messy, but it’s an organized mess, because you know where things are in the clutter.

Suspension feels cakey, creamy; I don’t rly have the words to describe it, but it’s my favorite thus far. Maybe it’s the colors on the left or the texture that I have no idea how Rich achieved, but it feels like a unique ROM texture – a little Jackson Pollock, but more smooth than spattered.

Sitting Meditation was interesting. Especially because the rounded pod-like windows resemble the little apartments in the graphic novel, Apsara Engine. I would think a meditation calm, and maybe this one is, despite the overwhelming cogs-in-machine way about it. Because puzzle pieces are slotting into place, blocks are getting put away into boxes, things getting maneuvered into their rightful place. Thoughts are being stored away, put to rest, so the mind can quiet and not have all these anxieties sitting around, waiting to jump in. The white outline is like the cable in Monsters Inc bringing doors back to their homes.

Blast felt kinda mischievous. There’s a lopsided smiley face at the bottom center and a rounder circle encasing it. It reminded me of those No, David! children’s books because of the one spike on its head, which is so characteristic of a trouble maker (also like Jack Jack from The Incredibles). The black squiggles in the second quadrant are as if he just took to his hair with a pair of safety scissors, and mom is about to come through that yellow door on the right and have a heart attack when she sees him and the mess he’s made.

Tongue in Cheek is a potato cornucopia. A little potato society. There is a potato statuette, like the potato is on top of the world, sailing on a boat.

Got Dopamine? is fun: I couldn’t stop seeing all these silly faces in it. Maybe not all particularly happy or pleased expressions, but they gave me little bursts of dopamine.

Emerge looked like a mouth full of teeth and gums and bacteria, in full sickness. When will you emerge from your room? Pop off your bed? Not today.

I like the way Hanging ‘Round moves as you shift around it. This was just one of the many wood constructions and carvings, which all had so much movement for such a dead thing as the innards of a cut tree.

In Equine Driver, I see a sassy cat and a skirting teacup, like that of Chip from Beauty and the Beast. He is pretending to be a sailboat. Is the cat’s eye slanted at him, or the judgers?

Rhythmic Reverberation felt like it touched directly into my chest. I could hear the soundscape of nostalgic beeps and boops, glowing notes shooting through wires.


Forest For The Trees was fun. I had to wait to have my turn with this one. I witnessed a professor-like observer, an older man with glasses and a tweed coat, humming a sound of playfulness, of delight, humor, at shifting his perspective and seeing how the forest moves, like the whole swath of trees is turned on its side.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from walking around Rich’s gallery, it’s that the aesthetically pleasing – the ones that are easy to look at, that I’d be more inclined to buy or hang up in my house – are not the ones that tell a story, as much as the funky friends, the outcasts.

When I got home, my roommate saw Rich’s card on my desk and burst out in an accusatory smile, because apparently she worked there, at the Dude gallery! She had met Richie, his wife, and his family members who stopped by the exhibit; I had just missed her. I asked what he was like. She said Rich acts like his art. He talks with his hands, and does this thing when he talks, where he moves his head in a looping motion as if he’s drawing infinities with his ears. My roommate delighted in his art because she feels happiest when art, especially her own, is playful. I agree. Journey of Self-Discovery felt like a joyful, eccentric playground that you could dance through, get lost in.

PREVIEW: COSTUMES – 2022 Fall Ann Arbor StorySLAMS at The Blind Pig

The Moth Radio Hour is coming to Ann Arbor for one night for their event, COSTUMES!

It is a StorySLAM where people are instructed to “prepare a five-minute story about playing the part. Holidays, parties or the school play. Stories of wearing the clothes to conform or stand out. Imposter syndrome or uniforms that itch. From ComiCon to Mardi Gras— Santa Clause to Spock, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to Sexy Zombie Cat. Reveal yourself!”

My friend, who is a big fan of Moth, told me about this event and is SO excited that they’re coming to Ann Arbor. Another friend who used to review for [art]seen went to a Moth Radio event for her writing class, and said: “it was sm fun.” It will be a great opportunity to view writing performance, but also participate as a member of the audience! At least for me, it sounds like a great way to push myself out of my comfort zone and enjoy writing for fun and not for a grade for a night! I also haven’t seen a lot of events involved with the art of writing. As a writer, whose main form of art is writing, I’m excited for more events like these to be reviewed for [art]seen!

The event is on Tuesday, October 18th at the Blind Pig (doors open at 6:30 pm, stories begin at 7:30). General admission tickets are $17.50 and 18+. Come enjoy a night of writing and sharing to end your fall break!

View more details and purchase tickets for the event here!