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U-M Arts Initiative Signature

Theme Semester

In Fall 2023, explore the power of creative expression to shape society.

Visible all around us, and deeply embedded in our day-to-day lives, the arts play a central role in shaping cultural and political narratives, as well as challenging and criticizing dominant regimes. Some recent examples include the worldwide reproduction of George Floyd’s likeness on city walls to underpin BLM protests; the toppling of public monuments and the invention of new statues; the reactivation of Barbara Kruger in a post-Roe v. Wade era; the boycott of Russian performers in the West after the invasion of Ukraine. Creative processes have been used time and again to reveal undertold stories and to resist simple narratives. Regardless of one's personal politics, a collective consideration of the art's potential to change hearts and minds seems both urgent and necessary.

Coordinated by the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the U-M Arts Initiative, this Fall 2023 LSA theme semester will reflect on how creativity and making can arise out of oppression and destruction. Even when people are stripped of their agency and humanity, they turn to creativity as a way of reclaiming some of this agency and resisting dehumanization. “Arts and Resistance” will generate public performances, courses, lectures, conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and mini-grants for students, creating an immersive experience that engages the U-M community and broader public in the power of the arts to shape society.

MARQUEE PROJECTS

The exhibition focuses on the nineteenth-century stoneware production of Edgefield District, South Carolina, the significant role of African Americans in the region’s stoneware industry and their important contribution and lasting legacy to American ceramic traditions. Curated by Adrienne Spinozzi (The Met), and Ethan Lasser (MFA, Boston), with Jason Young, (Associate Professor of History, U-M), the exhibition consists of approximately 60 ceramic works (monumental storage jars, everyday utilitarian wares, and face vessels), many never before seen outside the South. The exhibition includes the work of leading contemporary Black artists who have responded to the Edgefield story, and a small number of recently made objects will be installed in dialogue with the historic wares.

This highly collaborative pilot project between Monument Lab and UMMA will encompass curatorial research around the intersection of Michigan history, public art, and monuments, culminating in a temporary public art commission by a multidisciplinary artist. The artistic commission will serve as a platform for university and community engagement, and as the basis for a special course co-taught by Paul Farber (Monument Lab) and Kristin Hass (U-M professor, American Culture).

FOR FACULTY

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

We want to hear from you! Join us for a virtual and/or in-person town hall in January to share your thoughts and ideas. Sign up here to receive more information.

SHARE IDEAS

Do you have a project in mind that speaks to the Fall 2023 theme? Do you wish to share any programming ideas that you’ve always wanted to organize at your unit’s level? A speaker you’ve always wanted to invite? Please submit all ideas and suggestions to artsandresistance2023@umich.edu. The themed semester steering committee may on special occasions decide to offer additional financial support to the organizing units.

TEACH A THEME SEMESTER COURSE

Do you currently teach a course related to the topic of Arts and Resistance? Or do you wish to build a special course in response to the theme? Please log your course here. All accepted courses will be listed in the LSA course guide as special themed semester courses, offering up a platform for cross-LSA conversations.

FOR STUDENTS

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

We want to hear from you! Join us for a virtual and/or in-person town hall in January to share your thoughts and ideas. Sign up here to receive more information.

SHARE IDEAS

What comes to mind when you think about the arts and the roles they play in acts of resistance? How have you seen this play out across campus? Share your ideas and suggestions to artsandresistance2023@umich.edu. The themed semester steering committee may contact you to discuss further.