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.
This weekend I took some time to create with the copper embossing ArtBox from the Ann Arbor Art Center (this ArtBox is free to all U of M students with a Passport to the Arts)! This was my first experience working with copper, and I had never done any sort of embossing before. My only exposure to copper embossing was an awareness that it existed from old copper embossing pieces that used to hang at my grandparents’ house. Back then it seemed fantastically complex and difficult, but this project turned out to be simple and fun to complete!
Everything I needed to complete the project was included in the ArtBox, including the sheet of copper, a piece of foam to work on top of (to avoid embossing whatever is underneath :), the wooden embossing tool, sticky tape to attach the frame, and the frame itself (which I thought was a nice touch). There was also a piece of paper the same size as the copper square for a practice sketch, and a detailed set of instructions. I found the instructions to be very detailed, clear, and easy to follow. About half of the instructions were dedicated to the technical details of how to emboss copper, and the other half were dedicated to developing the “zentangle” art form suggested with the kit. The zentangle instructions are really nice if you’re also suffering a persistent case of artblock, or if you’re just not sure how to get started.
The first step was developing my paper sketch. Originally, I got pretty detailed on the paper version since I knew the paper was scaled exactly to the size of the copper sheet, and I assumed I could simply overlay it on top of the copper and trace along the pencil lines. I did this to trace my original long, winding, pattern divider lines but realized quickly it wasn’t going to work out well for the rest of the piece. Firstly, the instructions advise (and I concur) alternating the sides you’re embossing on to create different raised and recessed designs. However, to do this, you need to flip over the sheet of copper…and you won’t be able to see your paper that you taped to the other side. The second problem was that tracing over the paper made it harder to apply the force I needed to properly emboss the copper. You need to press harder than you think you do to get a good line (the foam allows you to apply some serious pressure without fear). The takeaway here is not to overdo your sketch. Sketching out the dividing lines and tracing those can be useful, but after that I started using my sketch as just a very loose guidelines for the types of patterns I wanted to put in different areas—and I ended up straying from the sketch a decent amount.
In the end, I had a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it as a relaxing way to try a new art form. It’s something I haven’t seen opportunities to learn about very many times in my life, so I would take advantage of this one to try it out in a low stakes way! If you end up loving it, I did a bit of researching and found out that it’s not as expensive a hobby as I might have thought!
You put on the headphones, and they themselves seem significant: the wires connect but they constrict, you have to rely on the tinny sound for information but it blocks out your surroundings. The whole experience was full of these contradictions, to the point that I had to consciously stop myself from thinking through them in order to pay attention. There’s the white wall to my side, and though I can see the borders of it from where I sit I can’t see the other side, so it’s as good as infinite. A little light is coming from where I’ve offered up my arm to the artist, Basel Zaraa, and I’m tempted to look down and through to meet his eyes but I know that something will be broken if I do.
The felt-tip marker is brushing over the flesh on the inside of my forearm and my palm, and I hate how gently he’s holding my fingers down because already I’ve associated him with a Dublin Regulation fingerprint database employee. When I realize I’ve put myself in a position I am privileged to never experience, it’s jarring and it’s a feeling that’s creeping like sweat along my forehead.
I don’t feel any one thing completely after, except for quiet. Not quieted, not disquieted, not just not speaking and not just alone. Quiet is the only adjective I can give myself. I’m sad for what I don’t know and especially for why I don’t, the stupid luck that let me be born into stability and the politics that let others live out of backpacks. Travel is so often romanticized, but there is a difference between travel by choice and by circumstance (further reading: https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470670590.wbeog940).
So in about 15 minutes I’m in and out of another world, halfway a vagabond myself. I’m back and walking home and I feel homesick but mostly physically so, my eyes kind of glassy. It’s a little disappointing that I wasn’t physically transported, though of course that would be impossible. I’m still in Ann Arbor, Michigan walking down the street, and I have no reason to fear that I won’t be here tomorrow. There is a constant stream going through my head berating me for how little I know about the world, and it feels like an abuse to wear this tattoo on my arm like a costume.
But I can use that guilt he’s given me, to take learning into my own hands and to get politically involved. Where the law does not protect the safety of people worried for their lives, there is a problem, a violation of human rights. As election season is upon us, it is a perfect time to get involved and get the right people elected. With primaries right around the corner, the time for active research is now.
You can find out more about Tania El Khoury’s work on her website: https://taniaelkhoury.com/
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.
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!
On a sunny Sunday, I ventured down Liberty — past Main — to the Ann Arbor Art Center. Despite being my first time venturing upstairs, it was my second-ever visit. Both times, natural light and kind staff have made the space feel open and inviting. The first floor was comprised mainly of their shop behind a small gallery space of artworks for sale, but stairs in the middle of the room invited me to see the exhibition space in their 117 Gallery. This juried exhibition was media-focused, displaying drawings from multiple different styles and perceptions.
I never really know the best direction in which to roam around a gallery, but there were only two other visitors there that afternoon, so I had some freedom. The first artwork I saw was a large, colorful piece that had received honorable mention: Scott Teplin’s mixed media piece Big School. I remembered seeing it on the AAAC website, but in person, the colors were much more vibrant and the large piece encapsulated much detail.
There were some more traditional pieces, such as John McKaig’s Blind Crown, a large-scale colored pencil piece full of exquisite drapery. Often enamored by drapery studies from both a viewer and artist perspective, it became one of my favorites.
Beside it, a 3D-drawing pen and plant-based resin sculpture by Lavinia Hanachiuc named Silkie3 hung with its shadow close by on the wall. It didn’t take very long to notice the depths of the variety in style from piece to piece, and I quickly began to realize that I was getting an indirect lesson in the possibilities of drawing as a media. While there wasn’t an every-other order from the traditional to “experimental” styles (for lack of a more accurate descriptor), there was a nice shift from framed pieces to installation-types every so often.
The gallery space flows from windowless to brightly sunlit-spaces, though I enjoyed all of the shadows created of the three-dimensional pieces no matter the light source. I never thought about the corners of galleries until I noticed Larry Cressman’s Drawing (Into a Corner 10) installation drawing, composed of teasel, graphite, matte, medium, and pinsi — seemingly created to be shown in a corner. It sticks out, drawing attention to itself, though somehow also seemed reserved…an element that I enjoyed.
Aside from final results of drawing, an exhibited piece was a drawer itself. The center of the room boasts a robot drawing machine by Ashley Pigford, available for demonstration with the assistance of AAAC staff. I didn’t end up using it, but I’d be interested in seeing its results.
As far as the gallery space itself, I liked that it was on the second floor because it felt like a more personal and unsupervised first experience with the art on show. There was no pressure to react in any specific ways, which I sometimes sense when viewing galleries with a staff member nearby or passersby peering in through a window. The sunlit section was more inviting than the other space flowing into it, but that’s absolutely a personal bias and not related to the exhibition itself. I attended alone on a particularly quiet afternoon, but it would be a fun outing with friends as well. It was also a nice chance to see works done by artists affiliated with the Ann Arbor arts community, outside of the university bubble.
This gallery visit was kind and eye-opening with simple displays of a wide range of works. I highly recommend a visit! It’s free and open to the public, and if you’re an interested art-buyer, many of these works are for sale. On March 16th from 5-7pm, the day before the exhibit ends, AAAC is hosting a happy hour as one of the final chances to see Art Now: Drawing. There will be refreshments and an interactive drawing activity — if it’s with the robot, I want to see results! Otherwise, gallery hours are below.
Venturing just slightly beyond the bubble of UM, one can find the Ann Arbor Art Center, a nonprofit organization home to local art and rotating exhibitions. The current exhibition is “ART NOW: Drawing” — one focused on particular media and the fourth annual of its kind, exploring conventional and less traditional types of drawing.