T'onna Clemons | AADL Black Lives Matter Muralist


T'onna Clemons | AADL BLM mural

T'onna Clemons (b. 1987)
Instagram: @comicbookartist

Following the Ann Arbor District Library's Call for Artists in 2020, AADL installed a Black Lives Matter mural on the south side of Library Lane on Friday, May 21 featuring the works of eight artists.

Below is our interview with muralist T'onna Clemons.

Friday Five: Dani Darling, Mirror Monster, Big Chemical, Oren Levin, GPS Tony


Friday Five 05-21-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features proggy R&B by Dani Darling, electro-pop by Mirror Monster, folk-pop from Big Chemical and Oren Levin, and jittery electronica from GPS Tony. 


U-M Librarian and AADL Board Member Jamie Vander Broek discusses libraries and "Radical Humility"


Jamie Vander Broek and her book Radical Humility

Jamie Vander Broek photo by Austin Thomason/University of Michigan Photography

How do libraries and the quality of humility go together?

Really well, it turns out.

Jamie Vander Broek unveils this connection in her essay, “A Library Is for You” in Radical Humility, a recent book she co-edited with Rebekah Modrak, a professor in the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.

The Librarian for Art and Design at the University of Michigan Library, Vander Broek outlines how the permission to read whatever you’d like contributes to the humble nature of libraries. In contrast to museums, the people are primary: 

Libraries, instead, devote relatively little real estate and resources toward interpreting their collections, instead foregrounding the individual’s experience with the materials. Another person’s ego doesn’t stand in the way of your access to, at our library, a letter handwritten by Galileo and the first cookbook published by an African American. That’s how important you are to us.

Libraries, Vander Broek observes, don’t impose themselves on one’s intellectual adventure or entertainment but rather offer their collections up to people who want to interact with them. There are many ways Vander Broek illustrates this humility, such as noting, “We think of libraries as being about books or even literacy. But they’re really about sharing. They’re about recognizing the value of saving, sharing, and access to society.”

Sharing is caring, many of us have learned from a young age. 

Friday Five: Raw Honey, Human Skull, Elise Robinson, Brad Phillips, Brijawi


Friday Five 05-14-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features atmospheric indie rock by Raw Honey and Elise Robinson, Midwestern punk via Human Skull, bluegrass/country/classical courtesy Brad Phillips, and drum 'n' bass by Brijawi. 


U-M Dept. of Theatre & Drama's "Romeo and Juliet" reflects the play's pandemic-informed origins


U-M's spring 2021 production of Romeo and Juliet

Post-modern takes on Shakespeare and especially his Romeo and Juliet feel as common as classic versions. But accompanying the techno music and blue jeans in the University of Michigan's Department of Theatre and Drama's post-modern version are pandemic masks.

Directed by Shakespeare in Detroit's Sam White, this edition of Romeo and Juliet also reflects our current era by playing up the extreme divisiveness between the two main clans, but a pandemic also informed the play when it was written around 1594.

A plague hit London in 1593 and more than 10,000 city residents died. Shakespeare's play features a scene where Friar John tries to tell Romeo about Juliet's faked death, but because the monk was suspected to be from a place infected by the plague, he's forced to quarantine and is unable to deliver his message.

You know what happens next.

The U-M Department of Theatre and Drama put the whole performance on YouTube for free, which you can see below as well as find out about four more free online shows in the school's spring schedule:

IS/LAND's "Lost Constellation (Pt. 1 + II)" explores individuality and interconnectivity through movement, sound, words, and video


IS/LAND, Lost Constellation

IS/LAND is a Southeast Michigan collective of Asian Pacific Islander American and Asian artists, and the group's "In Isolation Pt. 1 - SYNODIC" was a welcome respite of verdant color and light during January's gray darkness. Filmed and soundtracked by Chien-An Yuan, the video features dancer J Amber Kao moving and gesturing within a tightly prescribed area of Ann Arbor's Saginaw Forest, exploring change in a year where everything in the world was transformed and yet some days it felt like time stood still. (Read the review here.)

Kao and Yuan are back with fellow IS/LAND's members ciale and writer Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for two more performance pieces as part of the Detroit Institute of Art's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Filmed at the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre, the two works in Lost Constellation explore individuality and interconnectivity:

Friday Five: Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, Idle Ray, Doogatron, Big Chemical, Panto Collapsar


Friday Five 05-07-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features Kenyan-Ann Arbor psych-rock by Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, indie-rock via Idle Ray, folk-pop from Big Chemical, techno by Doogatron, and avant sounds by Panto Collapsar. 


Ten works from "Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition" that show the collection's creative range


Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition banner

All 91 University of Michigan students featured in Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition deserve every ray of light that can cut through the darkness of the past 15 months.

You can be their sunshine and check out all the projects by the BA, BFA, and Interarts Performance students from the Stamps School's Integrative Project and Senior Studio over at stampsgrads.org.

But here are 10 pieces of art, animation, books, product designs, software, and songs that caught my eyes and ears as I perused the work of these fresh talents.

Riverside Arts Center’s "Present: An Online Exhibit" offers an egalitarian collection of creative endeavors


Marlow Jiggaletti, Sleep Paralysis

Marlow Jiggaletti, Sleep Paralysis, photo manipulation

Art is essential, whether or not it is created for public display.

All art, whether fine art or craft, is worthy of representation.

Though these two statements seem straightforward, they might be considered controversial in the fine art universe.

Riverside Arts Center’s recent online exhibit, Present, pushes the boundaries of public art in online spaces by eliminating the jurying process and allowing anyone to submit artwork with the expectation that it will be placed in the show. The exhibit's homepage displays a gallery of thumbnail images with brief descriptions of the submissions, which range from regular exhibitors in the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor area to crafts and Lego projects made among groups of family members. This egalitarian approach offers a fresh perspective on what it means to create art, who this art is for, and what value creativity has when the world no longer resembles the one we know. 

Riverside Art Center’s call for submissions asks for work regardless of whether or not the creator is a working artist, and this cosmopolitan approach yielded eclectic results that give viewers a chance to see what creative projects community members have produced during an unprecedented time. The call for art reads:

Friday Five: Donn Stroud, Same Eyes, Eli Gordon, The Kelseys, Safa Collective


Friday Five 04-30-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features an RPG soundtrack by Donn Stroud, synth-pop from Same Eyes, guitar pop from Eli Gordon and The Kelseys, and black metal from Safa Collective.