"Border Crossers" asks viewers to consider a boundaries-free world in the tech age


Chico MacMurtrie's Border Crossers

Chico MacMurtrie holds a prototype for Border Crossers at the University of Michigan's Wilson Student Team Project Center. Photo by Robyn Han.

Border walls are only as strong as the robot overlords who can smash them to rubble allow them to be.

Sorry, that line was meant for my dystopian sci-fi novel. Chico MacMurtrie's Border Crossers project has a much more positive outlook.

Two Stamps exhibitions explore the intersection of the political and the personal


Celebrate People's History posters at Stamps Gallery

Two complementary exhibitions at Stamps Gallery engage in themes of social and political progress through photography and graphic design.

Celebrate People’s History posters, a project organized by Josh MacPhee since 1998, is “rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda,” according to the Stamps website. Furthermore, “in dark times, it’s rare that a political poster is celebratory, and when it is, it almost always focuses on a small canon of male individuals: MLK, Gandhi, Che, or Mandela.”

"Ruth Gruber, Photojournalist" exhibit celebrates the brilliant trailblazer


Ruth Gruber

In her 105 years on the planet, Ruth Gruber didn't half step anything. 

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Gruber earned a Ph.D. at age 20 from the University of Cologne in German Philosophy, Modern English Literature, and Art History -- the youngest person in the world at that time to complete a doctorate.

By age 24, she was an international foreign correspondent and photojournalist whose life reads like an adventure book. 

Black Lives Matter: Ebony G. Patterson's "Of 72" & "...and babies too..."


Ebony G. Patterson's Of 72 & ...and babies too...

Ebony G. Patterson's complementary works at U-M Institute for the Humanities address violence, identity, and the forgotten. Foreground: …and babies too… (mixed media, 120" x 58" x 10", 2016). Background: Of 72 (mixed media on paper, 19" x 13", 2011). Photo by Christopher Porter.

On May 23, 2010, Jamaican police and military entered the impoverished Kingston neighborhood Tivoli Gardens, a stronghold of drug lord Christopher Coke, leader of the infamous Shower Posse. The United States had ordered the extradition of the now-convicted Coke, and at least 73 civilians were killed by security forces as they searched for the man more commonly known as Dudus. (He wasn’t captured until June 23.)

Ebony G. Patterson’s Of 72 installation, on view at U-M’s Institute for the Humanities through Feb. 9, addresses this “state-sponsored mini-Armageddon,” as writer Annie Paul called it, and it also explores the complexities of black identity as a whole.

WSG's "Sixteen Plus Sixteen" pairs gallery members & their selected artists


Stewards of Creation, La Palouse, WA photo by Nina Hauser

Nina Hauser's Stewards of Creation, La Palouse, WA; iPhone photograph printed on archival paper using pigment inks; 5"x7"; 1/10.

The annual Sixteen Plus Sixteen features the work of WSG gallery members and their chosen guests. The 16 invited artists’ works are then shown alongside the works of WSG’s 16 represented artists.

As stated on WSG's website, the showing is “always an exciting art-filled time with lots of vibrant new pieces.” The gallery certainly represents many vibrant works, representing a diversity in practice and media. The show includes paintings, sculpture, ceramics, fabric, photography, books, and much more.

Tangled Dreams: Jim Cherewick exhibition at Ferndale Library


Jim Cherewick, two paintings

Some art exhibitions are carefully curated to represent a theme or mark a period of time in an artist's working life. Other exhibitions are based on practicalities, such as Ypsilanti artist Jim Cherewick's show at the Ferndale Area District Library.

The paintings there are "whatever I haven’t sold yet or to show before the owner buys it," he said via email. "Mostly watercolor and ink drawings I’ve been painting lately."

Crayons are another medium in the exhibition, with neither an oil or acrylic painting in sight.

UMMA's smaller exhibitions still make a big impact


UMMA's Japanese posters

Left: Shigeo Fukuda, Kyogen, 1981, offset print. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2017/2.88. © Shigeo Fukuda, 2017. Right: Kazumasa Nagai, Ueno Zoo, 1993, silkscreen. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2017/2.71. © Kazumasa Nagai, 2017.

The main draw at the University of Michigan Museum of Art right now is Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection.

And rightfully so since it features little-seen works by two masters. (John Cantu raved about the exhibition in his Pulp review.)

Meanwhile, Aftermath: Landscapes of Devastation is a breathtaking collection of "images of the aftermath of events spanning over 2,000 years of human history -- from ancient Pompeii to September 11, 2001."

But there are several other UMMA displays worth your time, even if there's not enough there there for a full review. 

Here's a look at some of the smaller exhibits currently at UMMA.

Resistance Paintings: Juliet Seignious' "Over/Come(ing)" at AADL


Juliet Seignious, Overcoming - Injustice painting

Juliet Seignious' Over/Come(ing) #16, mixed media on tarpaper, 21.5" x 11"

In 1958, Juliet Seignious was a founding member of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. It was during her time in this groundbreaking modernist dance troupe that Seignious started to explore her African-American heritage, which stretched from the Harlem of her youth to her parents’ roots in Edisto Island, S.C., which was a frequent landing spot for slave ships and, eventually, the home of escaped former slaves.

Once her dance career was over, Seignious turned her attention to another form of artistic expression: painting. But her desire to delve into African-American history continued unabated. A 1990 exploratory visit to Edisto Island inspired Journeys, which is comprised of 15 brightly colored but mysterious acrylic paintings and one pastel drawing.

"Pre-Fab/Post-Fab: Art in a Readymade Era" both celebrates and critiques modern consumer culture


Artist Bailey Scieszka as her Old Put character. Photo by Nicholas Calcott.

Artist Bailey Scieszka as her Old Put character. Photo by Nicholas Calcott.

In some eras, artists were inspired by new techniques or materials. Now, it's mass consumption -- and we're not talking tuberculosis.

In the new U-M Institute for the Humanities exhibition Pre-Fab/Post-Fab: Art in a Readymade Era, three Detroit-based artists showcase works that speak to them growing up "with the influences of mass consumption, internet shopping, the glut of plastic toys, baubles, and tchotchkes."

Heidi Barlow, Shaina Kasztelan, Bailey Scieszka take these everyday objects and twist them into new forms to comment on pop culture, gender, and politics. 

From the press release:

Gifts of Art's exhibitions bring culture to U-M Hospital


A collage of Gifts of Art exhibitions running through March 2018

We typically choose to see art by seeking it out at a museum. We want to be there.

Nobody wants to be in a hospital.

But if you are cooped up in the world of doctors and nurses, it's nice to have some high-quality culture to take your mind off your ailments.

Gifts of Art is Michigan's Medicine's way to assist healing by offering music performances and art exhibitions to its patients. But you need not be checked into University Hospital to enjoy the sights; Gifts of Art is open and free to all daily from 8 am-8 pm.

Visit med.umich.edu/goa/performances for a full list of the performances. For a sneak peek at the exhibitions running through March 11, most of which feature works by Michigan-associated artists, read on.