September 16th, 2014

Check out this story on The Pageant of the Masters, an event in which a collection of classic and contemporary works are recreated by live people in elaborate stagings. 

September 16th, 2014

You’re a busy U-M student, and we get that. Watch this UMMA edition of ‘A2 in 60 seconds’ on your walk between classes or during a study break. And then, when you get some time, stop in and explore for the day! We promise you won’t be disappointed!

A special thanks to CTN Ann Arbor for the segment!

September 16th, 2014

This Week on Campus: Pussy Riot to Speak at Penny Stamps Lecture

Mark your calendar, this Thursday, September 18th at 5:10, the founding members of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina are speaking at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Stamps School of Art and Design Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series.  Read more about it here

September 15th, 2014

In the News: “2014-2015 area visual arts season preview”

UMMA was featured in the Toledo Blade’s 2014-2015 area visual arts season preview this past weekend! You can read it here.

September 15th, 2014

The 25 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America

We agree (but then again, we’re fairly partial).

Assuming that The Big House isn’t enough to make the case, Michigan’s campus also offers plenty of Gothic architecture, as well as a handful of buildings designed by renowned, 20th-century architect Albert Kahn. One of Kahn’s greatest, the 212ft-tall Burton Hill Memorial Tower, rocks a 55-bell carillon which ties it for the fourth heaviest carillon ON THE PLANET. So, there… suck it, Spartans. On the flip side, the 1980s-designed Allan F. and Alene Smith Library with its glass facade offers gorgeous reflective views from both outside and in.

via Thrillist

September 9th, 2014

Interview with the Artist: Changing Hands Exhibition

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 / Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast is a part of the work of curator Ellen Taubman.  The third in a series, Changing Hands 3 focuses on the works of Native artists from eastern North America.  The work collected includes that of Kelly Church, Skawennati, and Jason Wesaw, who I had the privilege of asking a few questions.

Jean Rafaelian, student program assistant, with UMMA: When and why did you start creating art?

Kelly Church: I was always creating art.  When I was younger, I was more interested in drawing, but I came from a family of basket weavers.  I rejected basket weaving at first, because everyone else seemed to be doing it and I wanted to be different. I eventually came back to it, though, and have now taught my daughter.

Skawennati: I believe I was born an artist.  I would draw, and I went to school for art.  I found an art and design program I was really interested in.  It was taught by artists and I liked the idea of creating while improving the world.

Jason Wesaw: I didn’t really pick up art until I was older, and I when I did I was trained in Western styles of ceramics and photography.  My work is influenced by our traditions, but is not done in a traditional medium.  When I first tried ceramics I didn’t stick with it; I came back to it a few years after and have been working with it since.  I tell traditional stories with pottery.

JR: What is the relationship between the art you create and more traditional styles of Native art?

KC: Basket weaving has been in my family for a long time.  I come from one of the the largest basket weaving families in Michigan.  It is very traditional, but I make whatever I want.  For the exhibition, I made a checkerboard with frog playing pieces.  At home we have baskets to hold our tv remotes and CDs, and we make decorative baskets.  

S: I was disturbed with the idea that there was no concept of a Native identity in the future: what would a Native person look like ? What would they be doing? Native people have been portrayed in the same way for a long time. My work draws from these questions.  Graphic design is not traditional, and my work is set in the future, but I think it is really important.

JW:  I attempt to capture our stories in contemporary ceramic work. While I work in a non-traditional medium,  I feel a lot of support from the Native community for the work I am producing.

JR: How do you feel like your work interacts with others’ in the exhibition, and in the Changing Hands series.

KC: I feel like all the work complements each other.  

S: I think my work is more contemporary on the spectrum of traditional to contemporary because of my medium, but I agree with Kelly. I think the exhibition is very cohesive.

JW: I think the institutions hosting these exhibitions are interesting to consider.  A lot of them have in their collections Native American artifacts and remains that we are trying to get back. This exhibition offers an opportunity to bring that to their attention.


Thank you so much to Kelly, Skawennati and Jason for the opportunity to speak with you.  Come see their work and others’ on view at UMMA in Changing Hands, on view until September 14th.


Interested learning in more about these particular artists and their work?

Like Swawennati on Facebook:

Jason’s Facebook page:

Kelly’s website:


—Jean Rafaelian

University of Michigan 2016 

September 8th, 2014

Interview with the Artist: Yasuhiko Hayashi of Paramodel

Paramodel is an art collaborative that creates immersive environments out of mass-produced toys and brilliant blue plastic train tracks. They have recently finished crafting their exhibit at UMMA titled Paramodelic-Graffiti that is showing until January 4,2015 in the Stenn Gallery. Yasuhiko Hayashi of Paramodel talks about the beginnings of Paramodel, his work with partner Yusuke Nakano and inspiration for the project. Hayashi spoke in Japanese for this interview and it was translated by UMMA’s Asian Art Curator, Natsu Oyobe.

EC: To begin, how did Paramodel start?

YH: Nakano and myself were born in a small, industrial area of Japan and both attended university in Kyoto. We bonded as friends over a love for the Ramones (70s-80s American punk rockers) and formed a punk rock band together. Paramodel began with a participatory art project I was working on at university that Nakano joined.

EC: Your background is in conceptual, multimedia design while your partner, Yusuke Nakano, studied Japanese painting. How do you think your artistic backgrounds play into your collaborative work?

YH: Painting is prioritized in Japanese culture, it is considered the core of art and painters receive contracts very easily. This creates a very traditional structure even within the painter’s world. Nakano was feeling very isolated as a painter because he was not interested in this structure. At the same time, I was feeling isolated because there was no place for experimental work in the art world. We came together over our marginalization. We wanted to do something we felt excited about, to loosen up the system and use different types of media and imagery. We worked separately on these projects but always showed our work side by side.   

EC: Where did the inspiration to use children’s toys to juxtapose themes such as reality and fantasy come from?

YH: In the beginning we made animated film installations and would project video over glass windows (so the viewer can see both the outdoors and the animated image) in order to juxtapose reality and imaginary. While we were using imaginary characters in our animations we began to think about using actual toys. For example, cars, trains and airplanes were important in my childhood. Although we were originally wary of using toys because of their prevalence in contemporary art, we decided that we were using them in different ways than many of the other artists and moved forward with the idea.

EC: You have exhibited all over the world with Paramodel, but this is your first installation in the United States. How do you think the change in location has affected the installation?

YH: The country we are in isn’t as significant for us as the site because each installation is site specific. For example, we had never worked with double-sided glass or pop up walls, so we have taken certain features from past installations and blended them together to make this space at UMMA work. In America there are more opportunities considering the use of space; artists have the opportunity to work in both large and small spaces either indoors or outdoors. This inspires us, and Nakano and I hope to one day no longer use models and to instead make our exhibits life size.

By Ellen Cope
UM History of Art, 2015

September 8th, 2014

10 Women Street Artists Who Are Better Than Banksy

photo by bkstreetart on Instagram

Don’t get us wrong, we like Banksy just fine. We followed his every move last year as he turned the entire city of New York into an outdoor exhibition. There are many reasons to love the anonymous street art king, from his social crusades to his innovative use of the internet as gallery space. He’s just far from the only street artist to be utilizing these tools, even on a massive scale.

Last month The Guardian covered Bambi, a woman street artist they dubbed “the female Banksy.” However, after looking at Bambi’s portfolio, comprised mostly of renderings of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Amy Winehouse and Cara Delevingne, we have to say, we can do better. Just because Bambi sounds (sort of) like Banksy, doesn’t mean she’s the automatic heir to the street art throne.

On that note, allow us to introduce 10 badass female artists we’d choose over Banksy any day.

Read more here via The Huffington Post

September 7th, 2014

'Changing Hands' Artists Visit with U-M Theatre & Drama Class

Artists Skawennati, Jason Wesaw, and Kelly Church featured in UMMA’s ‘Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3’ visited U-M Theatre and Drama Professor Anita Gonzalez’s class of about 40 students last Thursday afternoon. The artists discussed the expression of culture and collective memory through art as well as the aesthetic and histories of imagery within their own works.

September 4th, 2014

This year, as we welcome back students to campus, we also welcome a new president. This video makes us proud to be Wolverines and excited for the positive impact President Schlissel will make on our beloved university! 

September 4th, 2014

UMMA Changing Hands Artist Dialogue Tonight!

Join us tonight to hear from exhibition curator Ellen Taubman, U-M Associate Dean and Carroll Smith Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, Native American Studies Philip J. Deloria, and a panel of artists including mother-daughter pair of award-winning contemporary black ash basket weavers Kelly Church (UM class of 1998) and Cherish Parrish (current UM LSA student), Canadian-based new media artist Skawennati, and Michigan ceramics and mixed media artist Jason Wesaw. 

Changing Hands presents work by Native artists from North America in a wide range of media, exploring the diverse ways these works celebrate cultural heritage and confront issues at the forefront of indigenous art and politics today. This dynamic gathering will explore these themes, in particular the ways in which contemporary Native art engages or challenges today’s global art world.

The event takes place from 6:30 - 9:30 tonight, September 4th, in UMMA’s Apse. We look forward to seeing you there!

September 3rd, 2014

Photo Booth Fun

Artscapade! Photo Booth photos are also up! Find your photos and download them now on UMMA’s Flickr here

September 3rd, 2014

Artscapade! Photos Are Now Up!

We hope our new and returning U-M students had a blast at this year’s Artscapade! There was dancing, old school Lego-building, a performance by Groove, ‘Paramodel’ construction, and an appearance by President Schlissel! See more photos of the event on UMMA’s Flickr here.

September 2nd, 2014

Did Neanderthals Produce the Original Cave Art?


"Researchers have uncovered further evidence that human ancestors may have begun producing cave art earlier than previously thought. A group of European archaeologists have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presenting “the first known example of an abstract pattern engraved by Neanderthals.” The pattern, discovered at the southern tip of Spain in Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar and dating to between 38,500 and 30,500 years ago, could substantially expand our understanding of the genealogy of artistic expression, generally thought to have begun with the cave art of early Homo sapiens, not Neanderthals."

Read more via Hyperallergic here.

September 2nd, 2014

Welcome, President Schlissel!

This Friday, September 5th marks the installment of U-M’s fourteenth president. Join us in congratulating President Schlissel and be sure to check out the lineup for Friday’s inauguration-related events here.

University of Michigan Museum of Art
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