REVIEW: GROW(ING): The 2022 Senior Exhibition

As a Stamps student eagerly stepping into my second year, I find that any glimpse I can get into the work of upperclassmen at Stamps is a treasure. The talent of Stamps students, refined by years of practice, discipline, and creative freedom, is manifested into varieties of works scattered throughout Stamps hallways. Although I enjoy the intricate jewelry and fiber sculptures put on display, many display cases remain empty; I often feel a disconnect from my fellow art students, constantly craving a more in-depth look at how Stamps allows ambition to blossom. The Grow(ing) exhibition was the first deep dive into Stamps work that I have experienced, and it was transformative.

Grow(ing) is a senior exhibition, showcasing the work of BA, BFA, and Interarts students at Stamps. The exhibition is arranged as a maze of large cubicles, each containing the work of one artist, accompanied by a plaque. Art across all mediums is included, from time-based art to wearable sculpture to projections on a floor. The variety is what immediately struck me the most— each artist was able to convey their personal message in truly whatever format they wanted, and this allowed them to communicate effectively, each work standing out from the rest. Three-dimensional art forms dominated two-dimensional, noninteractive art forms in this exhibition, which was shocking to me. I feel as if most Stamps students enter the curriculum with a focus on traditional two-dimensional forms— drawing, painting, et cetera— but Grow(ing) emphasizes the students’ capacity to expand their comfort zones. Stamps’ encouragement to explore creative possibilities paid off in the form of plant-adorned mirrors and enigmatic ceramic furniture sets. Even with limited time on my hands, I couldn’t help but stop at each and every cubicle to absorb the individuality of each space and how the artist’s energy dominates it.

Many artists combined mediums to create deeply layered works. One of my favorites at the exhibition was Silencio by Lissette Quintanilla, a collection of beadwork wearable sculptures that were both displayed on the wall and photographed. Lissette explores her heritage, upbringing, and the intersections of her identity through these delicate sculptures, portraying symbols of identity in a three-dimensional format. Although the sculptures are small, the obvious dedication behind them gave them an air of sophistication that demands your attention. I found that many smaller works throughout the exhibition were outstanding in the same way— although small, they are mighty, carrying a powerful message in a compact and detailed vessel.

Many of the exhibitions were larger sets, complete with instructions on how to interact with the work, lighting elements to boost the atmosphere, or sound elements. Each cubicle represented a fragment of an enigmatic world, a brief glimpse into the colorful mind of a creator. For non-art students and art students alike, the Stamps Senior Exhibition— and any Stamps exhibition at that— is a gift. Student exhibitions are a source of inspiration that naturally renews, encouraging its viewers to create more art, which will build future exhibitions, which will be viewed by more creatives searching for inspiration, and the cycle continues. Art is a beautiful thing, and fleeting moments to stop and appreciate it should be grasped. I look forward to future Stamps exhibitions and you should too!

REVIEW: How to Build a Disaster Proof House

How to Build a Disaster Proof Home is the latest installation at the Institute for the Humanities on campus. Artist Tracey Snelling transforms the space into an explosion of color, sound, and texture as various home interiors occupy the room. Working both on a life-scale and a miniature scale, Snelling presents an exploration of what home really means and how one mentally and physically finds refuge in the contemporary world.

I’d like to examine this exhibit in a bit of a fractured way, pinpointing and elaborating upon various aspects as these come together to create the complete multisensory experience of Snelling’s work. Firstly–the aural. Before you even enter the space, you can hear a variety of monologues, sound effects, and music. This is because almost every section, or constructed home, has accompanying audio materials. Whether that’s a series of films being played all at once, or Duran Duran filling up a corner of the space, there’s a sense of the place being alive. The weaving together of sounds (the less delicate may call it a cacophony) create an entirely new sonic experience, one where the simulation of human presence is achieved. This simulation has both the comfort of a TV left on in the living room and eeriness of interacting with Siri or other faux-human presences. 

The same kind of aural complexity exists in the textures of the space. You find the tactile, familiar comfort of a worn rug juxtaposed with the tackiness, insincerity, and flatness of an idealized sunset-rainbow-beach wallpaper. There’s a dedication to different temporalities here, as a portrait in 70’s fashion hangs above a cherry red plush carpet circa the year 2000. The melange of these tributes to homes of past decades is fun and very carefully coordinated to maintain coherency, but there’s also a deeper, more touching and humanistic idea at the core of how we maintain familiarity and keep the things that we treasure most close to us (even if that’s the flimsy metaphor of hope behind a rainbow).


Finally, the color is alluring. Bright tones, eye-catching patterns, and iridescent touches are not only attractive, but add a very specific voice to the message of this exhibition. Ultimately, How to Build a Disaster Proof House is a sensory delight that makes you appreciate wherever you call home.

PREVIEW: How to Build a Disaster Proof House

The Institute for the Humanities’ latest exhibition will be on view this week, beginning March 16th. How to Build a Disaster Proof House consists of the work by the current Roman Witt Artist in Residence, Tracey Snelling. Snelling previously exhibited here and has come back again with sculptural conceptions of various worlds, looking to themes of escapism and environment while also integrating eye-grabbing pop aesthetics.


The show is free and certainly not one to miss, as there’s a slew of accompanying programming in conjunction with the works. It’s truly a community effort, as talks and workshops intersect with corresponding exhibitions and installations coming from institutions like the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Art Center.


The Institute for the Humanities is right across from the MLB, situated right in central campus– be sure to stop by!

PREVIEW: Real and Imagined

Until December 4, Stamps Professor Heidi Kumao’s solo exhibition is on display at the Stamps Gallery. In this exhibition, Professor Kumao features narrative fabric works made from fabric cutouts and machine and hand stitching on felt. Professor Kumao uses these fabrics and experimental animations to visualize the psychological and emotional undertones behind everyday interactions and relationships. The title, “Real and Imagined,” is inspired by the backlash to the #MeToo movement, and how a woman’s testimony can be accepted as reality as dismissed as fiction at the same time.

I am very much looking forward to Professor Kumao’s exhibition. Her featured work has a very distinct and playful style, contrasted by the serious subject matter. I’m already impressed by how strong the message of each piece is despite how minimal the style is. I can only imagine how much care and time went into this exhibition, and I’m quite excited to see it in person.

The Stamps Gallery, located at 201 S. Division Street, is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-7 to visitors with an M-Card and a mask.

PREVIEW: Stamps Undergraduate Juried Exhibition

This Friday is the opening of the 2019 Undergraduate Juried Exhibition for the Penny Stamps School of Art and Design.  The show will be featuring selected works from Art and Design students, and is sure to be an excellent showcase of the creative and innovative force found in our student body.


The show is on display at the Stamps Gallery on 201 S. Division through December 15th. Its opening reception will be from 6-8pm Friday. Saturday, students who have won awards for their work will be chatting about their work in the gallery from 2-4pm.


Go out and support students making excellent work!


REVIEW: WSG Autumn Salon

On a mildly dismal Friday afternoon in Ann Arbor, I braved the bitingly cold winter currents to trek over to the Autumn Salon exhibition presented by the WSG Gallery on S Main. The idea behind Autumn Salon‘s clustered arrangement originates from the famed Salon de Paris, in which artwork is hung from every available space in the gallery, pinched together in forced dialogue in their nearly floor-to-ceiling occupancies. Not only was the Salon de Paris considered the greatest Western art event of its time, during 1748 to 1890 France, its signature method of exhibition was also adopted as the focus of many painted works of the century.  As I wandered through the WSG modern-day interpretation, a visual mingling of color, medium, and style, I could sense a similar cohesion of artistic energy that flowed throughout the gallery space.

I had the chance to speak with Adrienne Kaplan, a WSG member known for her large and expressive painted portraits of human faces – she informed me that there was no intentional ‘theme’ to Autumn Salon besides that of the mode of exhibition resembling the original Salon de Paris. Nevertheless, as I made my way around the maze of closely hung artworks, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern between the selected works – many depicted the essences of nature, the human figure, or both, with some utilizing the repetition of organic forms found in the natural world as motifs and/or inspiration.

Among those that I found myself most drawn to were two works by WSG Visiting Artist Helen Gotlib: Water Garden V and Water Garden VII. Both pieces consisted of woodblock prints accented with gold leaf and presented on hand-dyed paper. Compared to the boisterous energy emanating from neighboring exhibition walls, these two pieces instilled within me a sense of peace and calm. As I observed the endless ellipses and fingerprint-like patterns formed by the woodblock prints, my eyes naturally began to travel, almost in a hypnotized state, up and around each aged tree ring until they were almost oscillating in rhythm to the tree’s ‘story’.

WSG member Lynda Cole is another artist whose work seems to explore organic forms and their repetition, almost through a hypnotic lens. Pictured here are images of her original digital drawing, Nautilus Ghost, and their placement in the exhibition – this piece immediately caught my attention for how well it epitomizes the, personally ephemeral, sensation of ‘floating’ – the mesh-like form seems to both cascade and twist into itself before disappearing into a flat void.Nautilus Ghost : original digital drawing printed with pigment ink on archival paper : various sizes : open edition

I left these two artists’ works and the beautifully overwhelming Autumn Salon with a vaguely fulfilled sense of loneliness – the exhibition made me feel swallowed in various different artistic voices for its clustered arrangement of works, and both Cole’s and Gotlib’s pieces visually engaged me much like an optical illusion would.


WSG Autumn Salon will be on view until November 23, 2019, so be sure to stop by the WSG Gallery to see these works and more in person!