a t ble of co nte nt 2
Letter from the Editor
Artist Profile: Jay Moskowitz
Artist Profile: D Wang Zhao
Art + Activism
Artist Spotlight: Beth Reeck
Artist Profile: Kalli Kouf
An Interview with Tara Ward
Artist Spotlight: Anna Herscher
Left: Olivia Kinker, Clean up, acrylic, 2017 Cover: Art by Mikaela Gillman and Emma Bergman, Lilâ€™ Spooks, sculpey, 2017 Photographed by Natalie Grove and Shane Achenbach
Selfie + The Self
Artist Profile: Lorenzo Lorenzetti
Performance Intervention: Business Through Major Upset
n t r i u t ors b
Editor-in-chief Halle Jarvi
Creative Director Shane Achenbach
Managing Editor Vanessa Wong
Submissions Coordinator Olivia Kinker
Michelle Gurevich Halle Jarvi
Design Team Natalie Grove Katie Raymond
Janavi Goldblum Mateusz Borowiecki Alison Campbell David Streicher Daria Stelmak Vanessa Wong Julia Wang Nithan Vejendla
Contributing Editors Liam Dougherty Olivia Raykovich Liam Geduldig Janavi Goldblum
Photographer Katie Raymond
Helicon would like to thank the following departments for their generous financial support which made this publication possible: The Residential College, The Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, Arts @ Michigan, The Sweetland Center for Writing, and Womenâ€™s Studies. Special thanks to the History of Art department for their unending support, particularly to Jeffery Craft and Christy Elkins whose patience and guidance are greatly appreciated.
l e t t er f ro m t h e ed i t o r You are currently holding in your hands, or maybe looking at through a screen, the third annual issue of HEL[ICON]: a visual and literary arts publication produced by the Helicon History of Art Undergraduate Society. This is a magazine produced entirely by students, showcasing art, poetry and prose from over 50 student artists who belong to the University of Michiganâ€™s creative undergraduate community. Since its conception, Helicon has strived to support the artistic culture on campus by promoting student artists and providing access to local art collections. We believe it is important to create an approachable, accessible atmosphere in which students can engage with and learn from art. At its core, Issue 3 of HEL[ICON] presents our generationâ€™s impressions on contemporary culture. In this issue, students share their ideas about art in an increasingly politicized environment, about the relationship of social media to artistic output, and about modes in which we consume visual images, as well as the tools that help us contextualize them. In a series of features, artists discuss their recent projects and their respective creative processes. Jay Moskowitz explores how material experimentation can facilitate new creative perspectives. Kalli Kouf finds ways to disrupt the conventionality of materials through continual acts of distortion. D Wang Zhao talks about creating clothing to navigate experiences within marginalized identities. Lorenzo Lorenzetti discusses the physical life cycle of sculpture that drew him to the medium. Helicon hopes that no matter who you are or what your major is, you can connect to these pages, and appreciate this magazine as a token of the vibrant student art scene at the University of Michigan. Sincerely, Hel[icon] Publication Team Follow us on tumblr heliconus.tumblr.com Like us on Facebook Helicon History of Art Undergraduate Society - HHAUS
Riley Hanson, gertrude stein couldnâ€™t love me so I left for texas, digital image, 2016
clockwise from top left Riley Hanson, As the Arc Goes, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016 Nathan Malonis, Iâ€™M SORRY, Iâ€™M SORRY, ceramic, 2016 Nathan Malonis, the Bananas and the Nervous Child, Wanting to Eat the Bananas, mixed media, 2016
Emma Laurent, Field I, oil, 2016
don’t_make_promises_you_can’t_keep.jpeg By Claire Zimmeth
it is an image us and you are looking at me and I am looking out of frame eyes blank hands clenched like I’m grasping at straws we’re sitting in the back seat of your dad’s car and our seatbelts are off even though you liked to speed and I still remember the donut we did when you made a sharp turn in the snow I made you get out and took the wheel I will drive myself home thank you very much for the nothing you gave me for the something for the four years in a boring town when I was boring too or at least bored too bored to know I was fucked up too bored to know why I was so reluctant to let you go even though I knew I didn’t love you when you told me you loved me in the dim light and i laughed and kissed you to shut you up sorry, by the way, i knew you loved me and I was scared somewhere in the back of my head that that would never happen again and there is someone in my unloveable soul that wants something I can’t name and there is someone in my unloveable bones who doesn’t want to end up alone at the end of the night when you were driving me home and told me you wouldn’t drift too far this time that you would stay inside the lines on the right side of the road and I said I would always answer the phone when it lit up with your name and would stop letting conversations end with silence don’t_make_promises_you_can’t_keep.jpeg it is an image of us and you are looking at me
Maddie Messinger, Honey, Blend In!, collage, 2015
Maddie Messinger, Grit, intaglio print, 2016
Mia Massimino, Wring, monoprint, 2016
Mikaela Gillman, Shane Drinks a Beer, linocut, 2017
13 left Breakfast Nook, photo collage and digital media, 2016
this page Set the Table, photo collage and digital media, 2016
ARTIST’S STATEMENT Asexual: a person who does not experience sexual attraction to any gender Aromantic: a person who does not experience romantic attraction to any gender Thank god or whatever for the internet. Otherwise I never would have figured out that I was both of these things. It’s a testament to the power of entrenched societal values that it took me nineteen years, too. From media to advertising to good old-fashioned traditional values, heterosexual desire is the default orientation. Straight until proven otherwise. But asexuality is an absence of an experience. And I simply didn’t have the language to describe myself. So the images and stories of dominant culture filled the void in my vocabulary. Sometimes it seems like the emphasis on sexual and romantic pursuits is inescapable. Everything from diamonds to cheeseburgers is marketed with innuendo and allusions. These implicit messages saturate the landscape. Even when your orientation doesn’t fit the target audience, the lack of alternatives makes you question your identity. Maybe the world is right — you’re the one that’s wrong. Or worse, it defines you before you have the chance to do define yourself. But now I know more of myself, and the words I really want to say. I don’t want your body, and I don’t want any love. I know I can’t completely purge the dominant narratives that say otherwise. But I can remix them, tell a different story. Asexuality is a real thing. And there’s no shame in not wanting what (it seems like) everyone else wants. But I Don’t, collage and digital media, 2016
As Seen Between Two Passing Orbital Masses By Eli Winer
People will find the patterns they are looking for. They will find metonymy Between the pieces they are given, But lose site of metaphorical implicities, Simultaneously within and encompassing the pieces, While the puzzle itself Is a selfRealizing Generating Destroying Cry of its own fluctuation As seen between two passing orbital masses of relative rebirths. The flower A cycle as viewed by the dirt The dirt A cycle as viewed by the bloom of progress And cyclical tendencies A pattern as viewed by a petal Not knowing more than itself as the whole
Katie Raymond, Corporate America, photography, 2016
Adrianna Kusmierczyk, Tongue, oil paint, 2016
Haley Winkle, A Light Grasp, film photography, 2017
Paige Wilson, Blossom, intaglio print, 2016
Sarah Posner, light 1, gelatin silver print, 2016
Selfie and the Self:
Egoistic Media in Interactive Art By Mateusz Borowiecki
e’ve all heard it. We’re entitled; we’re too egoistic; our generation is the new “Me Generation.” And what better indicator of our egoism, say our detractors, than the greatest artistic innovation of our generation, the selfie? That’s the question we should be asking: Is our generation’s art inherently egoistic? By breaking the fourth wall and centering the focus on the viewer, interactive media is criticized for making the work about the audience and fostering selfish “power fantasies.” Consider video games, which change the role of the audience from a passive consumer (think painting, photography, music, film) to an active participant (a “player”). The player-audience has control; indeed they are transformed into the protagonist of the game’s arc. Interactive media questions the dynamic between art and audience in the digital age, serving as a revolutionary artistic tool for sharing and developing compassion for the experiences of others. Most videogames are set in first person, allowing players to navigate the world through the eyes of its protagonist. The problem is that the first-person perspective
obscures the character’s face, the very displayer of emotion. Portraiture, by focusing on the face, emphasizes a universally understood form of emotional communication. Anthropologists have long known that facial expressions are universal, while psychologists believe that reciprocating expressions is a crucial step to development empathy and compassion. Visual representations of the self are intimately connected to understanding and empathizing with others. In the absence of such imagery, the audience’s personal background affects how they perceive and react to art. In first-person video games, the player “feels” experiences differently than the characters would, and projects their own emotions onto the character. For an audience to fully comprehend the character’s experience, they need to understand the emotional state of that character. Otherwise, it doesn’t communicate the totality of the experience. However, the video game Life is Strange (2015) uses perspectives that emphasize portraiture and self-portraiture of its protagonist, Max, and ultimately culminates in a meta-critique of the egoistic tendencies of its medium. Set in the third person, the player-audience can, at all moments, observe Max’s facial (and therefore emotional) response to events around her, as well as her choice of clothes and other indicators of mood. During conversations, the player-audience’s visual perspective is often fixed upon Max, allowing the player-audience to observe her reactions as interactions with other characters progress (in most video games, the perspective remains fixed on the target of the conversation, reversing to the protagonist only when they are speaking).
Additionally, with Max’s constant capture of selfies, self-portraiture becomes a central theme of the game. The first real action the player-audience must take is to snap a selfie, and her room is coated in them. Max’s camera bag goes everywhere with her, and she turns the lens on herself as readily as on anything else. Seeing Max’s face prevents the playeraudience from egoistic consumption of her story. This perspective first creates sufficient separation between the audience and the subject, and then fosters a crucial level of empathy to make the relationship work. Why? Why did the creators choose to feature a photo and selfie-loving protagonist? In this situation, the nature of photography is a (relatively) faithful representation of some foreign or past event, something that can transport the audience into a different time or place (in fact, does so quite literally at some points in the game), and help the audience more intimately understand the character’s life. The same can be said of selfies and interactive media in the real world: they can only be considered egoistic if smiling at someone else is egoistic. On a superficial level, selfies are taken to express our emotions over another’s. But by doing so, we establish an emotional connection that is very interpersonal. Our generation’s art may seem egoistic. But it delivers non-egoistic results.
Ahliyah Kim, Yes, I Can Skateboard, photography, 2016
JAY MOSKOWITZ David Streicher (senior) and Daria Stelmak (sophomore) met with artist Jay Moskowitz in his studio, where they discussed his recent projects and the evolution of his creative process. Jay is a fifth year senior studying Art & Design, working primarily in sculpture and film.
Lately, he has been experimenting more with video. When asked what drew him to film, he says, “One person told me that ‘film is expanded sculpture.’ With sculpture you can’t escape time and space, and the same things come across [in film].”
“How do I look – do I have stuff on my face?” says Jay, as he stands next to his preparatory sketch of his Integrated Project. However, after talking with him about his work, it’s clear he’s not a person who would worry much about convention. Wildly inventive and interested in disrupting societal norms, Jay shows that he’s not afraid to go outside of the ordinary.
His current video project is still in the works, and Jay himself isn’t entirely sure how the final product will turn out. As we walked around his studio, Jay gestured to one of the characters for the project and said, “I most recently just sort of cut out an asymmetrical blob and sewed it shut to get this… I didn’t know what to expect but here it is. I’m adopting improvisation.”
Rather than define himself by a specific medium, he says, “I like to think about intervention as more of an art form -intervention being interrupting social interaction and changing it, or distracting from it.” He gestures to a character he created, explaining “this was originally intended to infiltrate public spaces and public events -- to go on stage at places where it’s not invited.”
Jay delves into this fresh perspective, finding meaning and purpose with his art. “I don’t know that we need to justify things that won’t fit into an already existing framework.” he says in reference to finding justifications for creating his art. With his work, Jay believes, “Meaning will come later as I grow and keep moving forward… but [art without meaning] can be valuable in a long term way. It can open up doors that we don’t understand.”
As Jay has grown as an artist and individual, he has been very reflective on his past work and artistic process. When asked how his work over the past few years has lead him to a new personal understanding, Jay says, “My older work was selfish and controlling. That’s a result of being closed minded and also not living my truth. That lead to dissatisfaction and this undeniable truth that I didn’t like the art I was making, which I think was the strongest thing that made me change course.” However, this self-reflection has definitely lead to some revelations; now he says, “I’m embracing this unknown joyful side of myself.” Jay aims to worry less and have more fun, and this mentality shows through his art, especially in his IP. “I think of that big monster as my transition from my solitary, unhappy side to this funnier, open-minded side because it’s both in a way. It’s both sort of evil and kind of a big joke,” he says. As he approaches graduation, Jay considers his trajectory moving forward. “I’m starting to think the way one of my friends does - which is that the universe pulls you towards making a certain thing and then you do it. Every time I do one thing, I choose what the next thing is. There are ten forks in the road and I go up one, then there are ten more forks. It’s all choices.” When deciding which direction he should take, Jay says, “I guess my truth is a lot of things - like I want a girlfriend, I want to be happy, I don’t want to be in the studio all night to make artwork I end up not even liking when it’s done. The truth is still at arm’s length… I am approaching it...”
HELICON WENT TO ROME
Above: Brilliant U of M art historians Elizabeth Sears (left) and Catherine Carver (right) explain fascinating Roman art history to Helicon students while basking in the Roman sun.
Fueled by passion for art and history (as well as a dedication to finding the city’s best gelato), nine members of Helicon set out to discover both the extensive history of Rome as well as its contemporary culture. Our daily excursions included walks down the Via Giulia, through medieval neighborhoods like Sant’Eustachio, and into stunning baroque spaces like Piazza Navona. In the evenings, we would gather in Trastevere’s piazze for lengthy dinners where we reflected on the events of the day over the staples of Roman cuisine - carciofi (artichokes), spaghetti carbonara or bucatini all’amatriciana. Our days spent walking through Rome were like walking through time. We would begin with ancient roman emperors like Augustus and Trajan, move through the city as shaped by renaissance masters like Michelangelo, and finish up with a discussion on 20th century fascist-era architecture. Our every step was steeped in the past, which left us feeling in awe of what is perhaps the most unique aspect of Rome: how one can gaze out across time and history on the landscape of the city. Certainly Roma, the city which eternally makes its impression on the western world, left us similarly impressed. Helicon organizes spring break trips like this every year at an extremely affordable cost to involved and committed members. If you are interested in engaging with art across the US and across the world, join us for meetings Monday nights in 180 Tappan Hall and help organize student art exhibits, movie screenings, museum outings, and publications like this one! Photos by Katie Raymond
Streetball By Courtney Carroll
It’s not that playing Barbie wasn’t fun. She loved making up stories; her Barbie Theresa had run a bakery for several years before deciding to open her own hair salon. This life change did correspond with the arrival of Beauty Salon Barbie, it’s true, but had more to do with her marriage to Ken than anything. Tiffany Alvarez and her other friends never wanted to make up stories. They played Barbie according to an exacting and unspoken set of rules that all but Charlie seemed to understand. When Charlie suggested that Theresa (who they continued to call “Barbie” despite her protestations) might divorce Ken to find happiness elsewhere, they all grew silent, looking at one another with grave eyes. “You can’t do that.” Tiffany said eventually. “Yeah, it’s wrong.” Kelly Long piped up. Kelly Long was always piping up. Charlie knew they were the ones who were wrong, but something about the expectant stares surrounding her told her not to question them. Streetball was easier. In streetball, there were no unspoken rules, because there were no spoken rules either. It was a game of passion—a game of doing—and the person who could do it the best won. Simple. Of course there were some rules, but they were basically common sense. Punches were restricted to below the neck; a guy throws the ball at your face and you bleed, you can sit out, but that’s a fair move—he gets the ball; boys can knee each other between the legs, but Charlie can’t. That was the one rule Charlie never understood. Still, she felt it was fair, given the time Jonathan Bitner kneed her between the legs and her vision went black. All the other boys fell upon him like puppies scrambling for a mother’s teat; punching and kicking and clawing at his hair while she dry-
heaved. “You can’t do that to a girl!” And she was thankful that when she went home afterwards, they pretended not to notice the tears in her eyes, and didn’t make fun of her for wussing out. Not that they never made fun of her for being “a sissy girl.” It was their favorite thing to call one another and her favorite thing to roll her eyes at, but the more streetball she played, the more she understood the taunt’s power. From one boy to another, it was a simple insult, easy as “fart brain” or “nut breath,” but from her it was a declaration of war. The scorned boy—still recovering from whatever earned him the label—would return to the game: harder, faster, more aggressive, spitting blood and kicking dust until another boy was hurt, another “sissy girl” was crowned. The first time she was hurt so badly that tears sprang to her eyes, the boys chanted “Sissy girl! Sissy girl!” like a broken record, the sound warped with effort. From among them, Jonathan Bitner shouted, “Not tough enough to play with the boys?” and the others laughed. They called her a crybaby and cheerfully gave her the option to go home and play with her Barbies so they could play “real” Streetball, as if her elbow smashing into Sammie Slaussen’s nose didn’t break it—as if they didn’t wait outside her door at night to make even teams—as if she didn’t matter at all. She learned to “suck it up” like her dad told her brothers when they came home tearstained after a fight. When Tommy Gilcrest threw the ball at the budding mounds of flesh on her chest, she threw it back twice as hard. When Jonathan bruised her rear with a powerful smack, she punched him in the jaw and knocked out a tooth. The physical distraction was the best band-aid she ever had, but limited itself to bodily injuries.
Charlie hit age 9 like a brick wall. Her body was growing, but she didn’t think it was growing the right way. Suddenly, her arms were too long and her hips too wide. Her face broke out in oily pimples and she was sweating all the time. The boys took to making fun of her appearance instead of her ability to make a basket. They called her “big butt” and “grease pan”, and with each word, her insecurity grew. She would never be like them; puberty would only make her more different. Most of the time their insults were fine, their juvenile tone reminding her how foolish and wrong they were. On occasion, however—usually when she one-upped them at the net—their words grew too big for them. It was these that stuck with her, a greasy film coating her heart. During these times, it was especially bad to show any sign of weakness. She cried when Jonathan called her a fat lesbo. She didn’t know what the second word meant, but the way he spit it out like it wasn’t something human made her cry harder. The next week, the boys almost didn’t let her play for fear of another “girl tantrum.” She learned to “suck it up” in a new way. Quite literally, she sucked the inside of her cheek. When their taunts became too cruel and she felt tears prick at the corner of her eyes, she bit the inside of her cheek, sucking it raw and making it bleed. It hurt, of course, but still held less sting than the boys’ rebukes. When she needed to nurse her wounds, she stayed home and read a book, or went to a girlfriend’s house where her problems were met with a chorus of “Boys are dumb.” She always laughed and agreed—of course they were! But the next morning she was on her way to the basketball courts, nails sharpened for another round of street ball.
Mia Massimino, At Home, relief ink on paper, 2016
opposite Jay Moskowitz, Sweet Smelling Nose, cast rose-scented wax, 2016
Alison Campbell (sophomore) met with artist Kalli Kouf in her studio, where they discussed the female leg and altering perceptions through art. Kalli is a senior in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design working towards a BFA with a focus in fibers as well as video and projection. AC: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? KK: Growing up in Los Angeles, I always kind of knew that I wanted to go to art school. Photography was all that I ever did since fourth grade. When I came to Michigan, I got into fiber work, weaving, sculpture and combining those elements with projection. My goal is to be a camera operator for television and movies. I have always wanted to work on films and TV, but at a certain point studying art at Michigan, I began to make a lot of different work – and loved it. For now, the plan is to do camerawork for money and have my studio practice on the side. AC: What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have? KK: I like to be in the studio alone and at night. I feel most creative when there are not a lot of other people around or if I have a close friend with me in the studio, so we can blast music and do whatever we want. AC: What are you trying to communicate with your art? KK: A common ground in much of my work is me wanting to change the perceptions of how people view something. Currently, I am working on a piece in which I am manipulating the strict fabric structure of silk by rust dyeing it with steel and distressing the silk’s clean lines to resemble something more organic. By using a laser cutter to cut the silk, the intense, industrial machine makes the fabric lose its original clean form. Similarly, for my thesis piece I’m weaving steel wire and cloth to give the fibers a sculptural aspect. Then, I will project onto the woven piece to break the boundaries of what a projection is by taking it off of the wall and onto sculpture in doing so making the sculpture more dynamic too. The videos I’m projecting are videos I take of nature distorted with color and other editing. I’m even filming projection of the videos onto the weaving then projecting that footage back onto the weaving.
AC: What art or artists do you most identify with? KK: I don’t touch paint, but I love Frida Kahlo as a person and as a political figure. Presently, my biggest inspiration is Benedict Drew (British artist who uses a combination of video, audio and sculptural elements to reflect on society’s ambivalent relationship with technology) and John Baldessari (American conceptual artist known for his work manipulating found photography. On the wall behind Kalli is Baldessari’s “How to Feel Miserable as an Artist.”). My inspiration changes based on the medium. Although, I think my biggest inspiration is Benedict Drew. AC: What project are you working on now? KK: Right now, I’m making soft sculpture legs for an installation that functions as a commentary on how the female leg is the most overly sexualized part of the female body without actually serving any innate sexual purpose. I plan to make at least twenty female legs and, by doing so, turn something that is so often objectified in advertising and mainstream media into a literal object.
Tyler Krantz, Lost, oil on canvas, 2016 Below: Adrianna Kusmierczyk, Wycinanki, screen print, 2016
Emma Bergman, Going Home, linocut and embroidery, 2016
75 Words: Student Installation curation & the art of label making
By Janavi Goldblum
Photo by Sophia Davidson, courtesy of UMMA
This semester, members of Student Engagement Council at the University of Michigan Museum of Art took on the task of creating an installation of 20th century American prints from the museum’s collection. Then and Now was a thought-provoking installation that showcases stunning prints by artists such as Edward Hopper, George Bellows, and Ida Abelman. The prints invited viewers to reflect on immigration, isolation, religion, industrialization, protest, and leisure in the context of American history and the University of Michigan’s bicentennial history.
Playing off the infamous campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” the council takes Then and Now to a uniquely interactive level by posing a series of questions about greatness: What is greatness? Was America great in the past? Is it now? Who makes America great? Who gets to decide how we should be great? Can art help make America great? Who is America great for?
Immigration (Theme Label) Throughout American history, the United States has been a place to which people want to immigrate in pursuit of a better life and to realize their dreams. Does this mean that immigration only benefits the new citizens? Certainly not. The three prints in this column depict the story of a few immigrants who helped build America. The diversity of cultures allow people to learn from each other about lives and values, enriching the experience for all. Ili Anuar, ‘17
While the focus of the installation is the prints, the unassuming labels that accompany each piece provide an essential historical background for viewers. The labels, each about seventyfive words, provide much more than artworld buzzwords and basic identification information. Label making is a difficult art to master, as art historical writing is seldom succinct. The label writer must become a wordsmith and maximize seventy-five words to connect the viewer to the piece’s artistic elements and historical context. More than that, the label writer must leave the viewer with something to think about. A product of the hours spent selecting, organizing, writing, and editing that went into the creation of Then and Now, the following student-written labels are insightful and poetic -- seventy-five word windows into an artistic process.
Prentiss Taylor Macedonia A.M.E., 1934 lithograph on paper Courtesy of the Fine Arts Program, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration, Commissioned through the New Deal art projects, 1935.14 Depicting a religious service in South Carolina, Taylor captures the vitality and life of black Southern spirituality. The symmetry and balance of the congregation contrasts with the imbalance of segregation outside the church. We see the crowd from the back of the church through the outsider eyes of the white artist posing the question: whose voice is heard and given authority within a work of art? Allie Scholten, ‘18
Leonard Havens Industrial Reflections, 1938 woodblock print on paper Allocated by the U.S. Government, Commissioned through the New Deal art projects, 1943.47 Industrial Reflections depicts a monochromatic scene of a solitary factory overlooking a body of water against the backdrop of a dark sky. Havens’s horizontal and vertical cuts on the faces of the buildings provide the minimal light in the print while also creating a looming, shadowy effect, as if the factory is being swallowed by darkness. Devoid of workers, this desolate scene is reflective of an industrialized America, struggling during the Great Depression. Janavi Goldblum, ‘19 Mary Huntoon Grain Elevator, Kansas City, Kansas, 1930-40 etching and softground on paper Allocated by the U.S. Government, Commissioned through the New Deal art projects, 1943.61 Power lines weave together the fabric of industrialization. This fabric included places to eat so we find a diner on the right where one could buy hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. Factories created jobs and jobs created prosperity for America. Were those factories, however, also tangling the employees forever in the working class? Hannah Baker, ‘18 John Sloan Votes for Women, 1912 Drawing Museum Purchase, 1964/2.154 This image depicts women with defiant expressions marching calmly for the right to vote. Their race and dress are evidence of their upper-middle class status. The fact that they are satisfied with their quiet protest prompts a contemporary viewer to question whether the goals of these women have really been accomplished and what struggles women of all class and race still face. Tori Cox, ‘17
When asked about her label-writing experience for Prentiss Taylor’s Macedonia A.M.E, Student Engagement Council member Allie Scholten says, “I wanted to urge the viewer to think about why this piece is historically and contextually significant, rather than the composition. I think the dichotomy between bringing attention to a culture and cultural appropriation becomes hazy within the piece I was writing about, and I was interested in the role of a white artist looking into a culture that is not their own, turning that into their art, and where we draw the line of acceptability.” Each of the labels in Then and Now is a glimpse into what individual students found compelling about their print and what they found important to communicate to the viewer. In turn, the viewer is encouraged to think about the installation’s themes, implementing what they learned from the installation and their own experience as well.The act of describing art with words is itself an art form, one that is no easy feat and one that cannot be overlooked while viewing an installation. They look simple: small white cards, only seventy-five words. But exhibition signage welcomes viewers into a gallery space, and wall labels provide vital historical context. Labels say a lot with very little. Read them.
Eva Antebi- Lerman, Holding Back, encaustic on board, 2015
Eva Antebi- Lerman, Melting Days, oil on canvas, 2016
Haley Winkle, Growth, Photography, 2017
By Haley Winkle
sleepwalking on brisk, empty neighborhood streets once again, orion on his side, low in the eastern sky ready to rise behind nude winter trees stretching for the moon; dim fluorescent streetlights sparse and reaching for the shadows on newly paved asphalt, one dimmer than the rest. my feet barely making a sound under their buzz faint as their color, my face feeling the way it should in mid-December thin skin comfortably growing cold. a lack of wind making time feel paused for the twentieth time in the past 24 hours, i only wish it would pause for real.
D WANG ZHAO Over steaming mugs of genmaicha tea, Vanessa Wong (junior) met with D Wang Zhao (senior in Art & Design) to discuss being an artist as a nonbinary person of color -- two unavoidably visible identities that, even in the coffee shop that afternoon, influence one’s perception in society. Much of D’s current work is centered around conceptual fashion, which stemmed from the difficulties in finding secondhand clothes that are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. D admits, “a lot of my work that I’ve done with clothing has been because I just want to have clothes.” D’s clothing is often centered around the identity that they think about the most. “Being trans/non-binary, getting dressed each day is always a big ordeal and is always a political statement because I’m like, ‘how do I want to dress today, how do I feel, and how I am going to dress -- is that going to make me feel good, or might it jeopardize my safety or comfort in some way?” Their clothing is designed to offer comfort and tenderness in a harsh world. They showed me a garment pieced together from three bath mats found at Ann Arbor PTO. They were particularly drawn to using the material because it was “thick enough so I didn’t have to wear a binder, where everything in [the body’s midsection] that is weird and politicized -- that identifies you in ways one might misgender you -- is hidden under heavy cloth.”
Blending a low v-neck cut with heavy, straight fabric, they question the gendered social constructs around cuts of clothing. Constructed from such bulky material, the garment swells around its wearer, encouraging them to take up space as they walk down the street. D says, “Making this work is an exploration of how to use materials that are functional, hardy, and unassuming, and make them into something. The way it was cut, which creeps down part of your chest, but isn’t wide enough to slide down -- it keeps some of that tenderness in.” Currently, they are experimenting with soft textiles, hoping to create interior lining to give clothes a sense of comfort at all times. They mention the nostalgic feel of their childhood blanket, and how creating that same sense of tenderness is “important when you have a lot of marginalized identities, for you to take care of yourself.” However, occupying multiple marginalized identities within a mostly white field can be difficult. D explains the challenges they face when surveying the types of audiences who will consume their work. Referencing a popular streetwear trend of people wearing t-shirts featuring screenprinted Chinese words, D expresses frustration that the language is used exclusively for aesthetic value, and worn by people who do not understand the characters. “It really ruined the excitement for me … How can I only have it so if you identify as Asian or Asian American, you can wear it, and otherwise, you cannot? One half of me thinks it would be funny to have [Chinese words that people don’t understand] like ‘white complacency is shitty,’ and sell it to your white friends. I kind of want to trick people, but I wouldn’t get that satisfaction because not enough people would be like, ‘You know what that says, right?’ They’ll think ‘oh, this is so cool.’” Because D thinks that expressing oneself shouldn’t have expectations of quality, they are drawn to how the Internet is “decentralizing and deinstitutionalizing how we conceive the proper ways to express one’s creativity. What makes you an artist, or what makes you a creator, or worthy of attention? You don’t have to go to art school, you don’t have to have power, and you don’t have to have privilege to have a following.” Ultimately, the belief driving D’s work is that “you existing is an act of resistance in and of itself.”
Nathan Malonis, set of six cups (top), Yes, What Was Your Name Again (bottom), ceramic, 2016
Riley Hanson, as the arc goes, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016
been looking at has been at a very grassroots level like images coming out of the various marches. I think one of the things that we are seeing is a real visual culture emerging around this kind of dissent, and that’s been what’s been intriguing me through many, many years now. There’s been a lot of serious feminist art that has been accepted and is forthcoming. What seems new to me is quite frankly how many people are getting engaged in making visual culture around this set of issues. JW: What do you think about the power of social media (or online activism) in terms of providing a safe sphere for expressing political views and social discontent?
Illustration by Olivia Kinker
Julia Wang (sophomore) met with History of Art professor Tara Ward to discuss how contemporary female artists have shaped today’s social and political environment. Tara is currently teaching HISTART 393 (Magnetic Dipole: Modern Art and Science), and has previously taught courses about modern women artists in the 20th century as well as gender and popular culture. JW: Your field of expertise is female artists in the 20th century. Can you speak about female artists that draw a parallel with our contemporary situation, such as the Women’s March on Washington? TW: [Work from female artists during the 60s and 70s] is, in a lot of ways, trying to come up with what a female voice can look like. That question is very much with us today. What does it mean for women to speak? And how do we do that in a way that is somewhat different from patriarchal structures? JW: How have contemporary female artists challenged traditional/historical ideas of what is considered “art?” TW: An example from my last lecture: Carolee Schneemann’s “Interior Scroll.” She literally pulled text from her vagina and read it -- a very literal way of making a woman’s voice physical, and taking the female body, which is often objectified, and turning it into an object that can speak and, therefore, be more fully human. JW: Can you give examples of art that relates to social activism? What kind of impact does it have on our social and political environment? TW: There are so many people working in this field right now, and things are changing rapidly. There will be a realignment in the next year or so regarding how art engages with the contemporary situation. Most of the stuff that I have
TW: It’s a mixed bag. There’s certainly a lot of possibility for connection, for getting people together and allowing for organization that is a lot more difficult when one has to go house to house. I also think that people need to be more aware of the structures and limitations inherent in social media and the ways that it reproduces the power structures of our world. We’ve gotten pretty good at using Facebook to say, “Hey, we’re going to have a meeting about this.” We’ve gotten less good at looking at Facebook or Instagram itself and thinking about the way they present images and information. These things reproduce the gender binaries of our culture, right? And every woman has that objectified image of herself on Facebook, and when that’s next to “Come join me at the Women’s March,” I do wonder about the mixed messages being sent, and this is one of those places that attention to the visual can be really an important part of political activism. JW: The Women’s March was initially organized as a Facebook event. Does the medium affect the attention and support it received from around the world? Tara: I have been heartened not only by how well [organizing on social media] worked out, but also by the fact that it seems to be continuing. The Women’s March itself and other organizations have really picked up on how to use these tools. I also think that they’ve been really good at creating news images through these marches with the designs and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook, etc. But again, as an academic, my job is not just to acknowledge what’s going on immediately, but to try to take a deeper look. What does it mean? What are the longer-term issues? Not just how can we change an individual fact about the world right now, but how could we restructure our thinking, and that’s where I want to look more deeply at the larger messages of social media. I think there are so many interesting questions raised when the Women’s March and a naked Kim Kardashian are shown next to each other, including how we start to think about that experience.
Photo by Benji Bear
Sugar Center by Sophie Goldberg
Riley Hanson, will you bill murray me?, digital image, 2016
LAD IN SIGNATURE GREEN CROCS, Lorenzo Lorenzetti came to meet us outside the Taubman Commons of the Art and Architecture Building. Apologizing for the clay on his hands, he took us to see his first piece. We first walked inside the commons, where there were two sculptures against the wall. The sculpture on the left depicted a man holding a gear and a roman aqueduct in each of his hands. The gear represents Detroit and the aqueduct, antiquity. He explains the sculpture captures the contrast before and after the Industrial Revolution. The sculpture on the right was a bronze cast of arms and a torso, supported by an industrial pole. He says, “It’s like a figure in peril. The gestures, maybe of tension. Because I love tension. I love movement. I love when you have to fill in these empty gaps, and I want a pose that’s a little abstract, like, could you actually do this in real life? And to have the viewer fill in these gaps... I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist, but things are happening in the world, and I’m a little cynical about them, and I want that to reflect in my work.” The School of Art & Design grants each
senior a modest studio space in the art building to house their work, and Lorenzo takes us to his. The space is populated with sculptures made of limestone and marble. Limestone is made of mud, sand, and shells, and its softness makes it ideal for sculpting. Marble is limestone that has crystallized into a harder texture at a later point in the rock’s life cycle, and, therefore, working with limestone and marble is like “a resurrection” to Lorenzo. He likens it to giving new life to the organisms that make up the rock, adding another layer of insight into his focus on sculpture. During the tour of his studio, we see his drive for innovation and pushing the absolute limit of his craft. His passion is in dreaming and executing even greater works. He takes us to the kiln to show a piece he recently worked on -- a larger-than-life cast of his chest made of clay. The piece involved a technique in which ‘coils’ of clay are layered on top of each other, and then molded into the recognizable features of a human torso. His ambition is to challenge, and he does so with grace. As we walk to the next location in this whirlwind tour, he gives us a background on
his family. Growing up in Troy, Michigan around parents and brothers who are all graduates of the art school, Lorenzo knew he would study art; the question was merely what he would study. Though he grew up painting, Lorenzo joked that he chose sculpture because it was the only medium not already monopolized in his family. The greatest joy in Lorenzo’s work is his passion for the labor of love that is art. He says good art must encapsulate “the soul, the spirit, the passion, the iteration.” Even if someone’s art isn’t good, Lorenzo appreciates anyone who constantly follows their interests and passions. He explains, “I’m just about people that are actually doing it, that every day are heading towards an end result. I like when there’s fingerprints and marks of the artists. This hand touch... will always bring that person, that common reaction, within all of us -- the soul, the origin of us all.” Lorenzo believes in challenging the limitations of his medium, investigating through art, and pursuing his passion. Judging by the thoughtfulness and care seen in his work, he practices what he preaches. By Nithin Vejendla, with contribution by Mateusz Borowiecki
Letter To My Social Anxiety By Ana Lucena
Once again your claws yank my vocal cords, you dick. After four months cruising by without your boldly hidden banana peels that trigger me, feeling judged, an insect under a microscope, my intentions inspected by the new people I meet like the dayâ€™s mail, with me dying to avoid the junk pile. I am ready to finally lock your cage door for good. Once again, I must row away in my fishing boat from the tension from the mightiest of storms coming from the party thrown by classmates, by seasoned sailors with years on the sea all carousing dry in cruise liners, all of them but me. Once again you pin down my wings, but you never rip them off, my goals intact. Even after starting college, with my cocoon shedding off, and all the blushing and awkward slips of the tongue, you feed from the remains that still remind me of my past, so you remain in the foreground of every day that goes by. What pleasure do you get from pulling back this timid butterfly?
Julia Pompilius, love makes you happy/ sad, digital image, 2017
Ellis Wills-Begley, Retour รก La Cour, Fontainebleau, watercolor and ink, 2016
Paige Wilson, Clouds, woodcut print, watercolor, sumi ink, 2016
Ellis Wills-Begley, Offering to Saint Michael, Truro, graphite, 2016
Emma Laurent, Field II, oil, 2016
Art & Activism Through sharing photos, making protest signs, and documenting events, visual imagery is just one way that activists create a common language to spread their messages. Helicon reached out to students to explore how art can be used as a means of communication, representation, and dissent. Photo by Benji Bear
What role do you feel art plays in activism? An internal struggle I faced before the 2016 election was whether or not studying art and art history, and pursuing the subjects really meant anything for my activism and would make me feel fulfilled. But now more than ever, I realize the importance in studying culture and recognizing how artistic trends reflect the political climate. Art has given and can continue to give the people a voice. We need to teach kids that art does mean something to them, and now is the time for them to use their creativity to express themselves and make a difference. - Ariel Friedlander
Art is both a source of healing and a vehicle for provoking thought, empathy, and action. For example, a graphic artist this year created a series of images that displayed lesser-known MLK quotes in front of pictures from the â€˜60s Civil Rights Movement and modern movements. A black model tackled the issue of representation in advertising and images of beauty by recreating popular images with herself as the subject. There are many times that art has driven change; documentaries like Blackfish have sparked action that led to successful outcomes, and photographers allow the world to bear witness to injustice worldwide. - Chelsea Racelis
As a photographer who documents rallies and marches, how do you perceive your role in capturing these images? Sunsets, flowers, landscapes — that’s not me. When I first started taking photos, I felt that’s what I had to take photos of to be considered a good photographer. But I was more attracted to what people didn’t want to see, or rather, what people avoided seeing. That’s why I’ve been drawn to documenting the political tension on and off campus. I try to capture the conflict and the humanity of what gets people to come and fight for a cause — to make that connection between politics and the people who are a part of it. Showing this often makes people feel uncomfortable, and that’s what makes it worth it. - Benji Bear
Photo by Emma Laurent
How has political art made an impact on your personal experience? Art is more impactful to me than reading an article analyzing a political event. I am so accustomed to reading articles and analyses that often it becomes monotonous, and the impact is lost on me. But art expresses feelings in a way that makes them feel more personal and tangible to me. When I saw the 30 Americans exhibit at the DIA, a lot of the art was about issues I knew about before, but seeing them presented in a new and different way helped me to understand them on a deeper level. - Ellie Homant
What obligation, if any, do artists have to address political issues?
Photo by Benji Bear
Photo by Emma Laurent
I think artists do have an obligation to address political issues that resonate with them, especially artists with a large following. If you have any kind of audience, you have a real opportunity to make a positive impact and enact real change. Using your art and your voice to educate people about a movement or cause you care about can help decrease overall apathy. -- Chithrini Sivashankar
Photo by Ariel Friedlander
Sydney Markus, Oxidation, ceramics, 2017
Kelsi Franzino, Jacqui (left), Future Woman (right), pen and ink, 2017
Libby Post, Steph Putting on Pants, pen and ink, 2017
Katie Mongoven, Without Kingdom, Silk brocade, polyester stuffing, thread, 2017
ta n t r u m
By Mia Massimino Temper tantrum gasp Press chest tamp it down lead me up the wooden stairs by the bicep writhing and thin. I cannot hear the usual squeaking of the stairs, I cannot hear you tell me I am embarrassing myself. Heaving pressure gusts of explosive air But I feel that everyone around me is silent. Push my gaping mouth up against the white painted door leaving heated droplets to cling, vibrate. I don’t want you to have fun. I don’t want you to go back downstairs and drink wine and discuss adult things I block out because I do not understand. I will never stop screaming. Gasping for the next breath I can collect and force out. The moment I know it will end is when I am only screaming to be heard, Payed attention to, because I will not have the energy to scream just to make a point. In the corner of the wooden stairs with you, things are sharper, not pixels smudged apart by breath and water. We look at the triangle cut out of the wall, its edges resting against the steps. We wait and watch. Back when waiting was a game, when the suspense of watching for something was enough to entertain. We watch for a little creature, a magical being we haven’t imagined yet to take the small piece of food. Quiet waiting. Chin pressed against knees, hands clenched around shins. You can see the dust falling through the air we watch, until we get hungry. Why don’t we scream anymore? We let ourselves build and stretch and build again, “solving” things that cannot be solved allowing residue to build up inside our walls because we are calm, adults, cleaning things, discussing things drinking tea, soothing. Now, when I get a rash, I cover it with cream, lather it on. Pile it up. I want to scratch it and rip it open and tear at the pores. I never sleep better than I do after a tantrum.
Anna Herscher 60
Public v Private, intaglio copperplate etching, 2016
Coil, monoprint, 2016
previous page Fields, woodcut print, 2016
Amorphous, hand carved Bristol paper, 2017
Misshapen Moon II, monoprint, 2016
Misshapen Moon I, monoprint, 2016
ARTISTâ€™S STATEMENT Much of my work examines and abstracts pertinent conflicts and questions that arise from social and political issues. Although what I create is initiated by an experience particular to myself, I do not consider my work to be a personal expression. I strive to encompass a broader experience by building upon my own until it becomes universally accessible. Melude, artistâ€™s book composed of mono prints, linocut prints, and intaglio copper plate etching prints, 2016
Thomas Callahan, Deadly Cults, soft sculpture, 2016
Alison Campbell, Self Projection, projected photography, 2016
tpetch, Murder Mystery (left), I’m Sorry We’ve Been Disconnected (right), mixed media, 2016
Sophia Castro, Self [Series], digital collage of photography, 2016
Performance Intervention: Business Through Major Upset
Photos & Text by Zach Kolodziej The piece originated as a proposition by engineering student Spencer Haney, to disrupt the engineering career fair. For my part, I planned to perform in reaction to the overly formulized and hyper-competitive nature of the “job search. My character was a uninhibited loudmouth, manically barging past lines of engineering students to slap down my oversized resume in front of the career tables. He was on one hand a rogue, refusing to follow the etiquette of the event, and on the other hand an embodiment of the outgoing, confident go-getter, albeit an exaggerated and boorish one. The “resumes” I handed out reflected my notso-subtle, but distorted and deranged, presentation of white male entitlement. I was contrasted by Riley Hanson’s character, a nervous wreck desperately trying to hold his shit together. Whereas my character showed a suitcases headed student on steroids, Riley’s was the “runt of the litter.”
In the second half of the performance, more of a spectacle occurred. Taking the bridge over the courtyard I acted as an Emcee of the event, accompanied by Spencer, dressed as a clown, as a sort of absurdist DJ. Our attempts to incite pagan exultation failed to result in the removal of any clothing, but instead reinforced the intentionality of the spectacle – to wear tight fitting suits, wait patiently in line, and if one was lucky, sell their soul to the Devil. The finale of our disruption was an impromptu trial for a careerist who had “committed sins against career fair”. We were lucky to find a willing volunteer with our friend Thomas, who had attended the event in earnest. Bringing him up to the balcony we bestowed the hundreds of people below with the power of the jury and asked them whether to spare Thomas from a death sentence. Since none objected, we staged an execution and carried him out, still clutching his coffee mug in a cold, dead hand. At the point when we were exiting the building we were finally confronted by a group of Women in Engineering students staffing the event, who expedited our exit. We were made aware, through their threats of arrest, the personal stake of some attendees of career fair, especially, one can imagine, women trying to make it in an intensely male-dominated field. Spencer was harangued for wearing a clown costume, which the staff identified as inappropriate for a career fair, we realized that our message of spreading love and joy was moot to someone dedicated to finding those things by sacrificing some freedom of self-expression. But we did not let this disconnect keep us from spreading romance where we could. We were greeted by various people, reaching out in person or online, with gratitude for what we were doing.
Emma Laurent, Ghost Town, embroidery on printed fabric 2016
Diana Fang, Mirage, digital, 2016
Libby Post, Multi-Dimensional print, ink and paper, 2015
Ectoplasm is lighter than air By Marilyn Schotland They say that things lacking are often felt Through dropped stitches and chords and open clefts My dear, if this is true, then life has dealt Far sweeter things, than my poor heart bereft. Look up! You'll see our souls drift in the air, Shimmering and broken, but don't you see; Crooked plasma is golden and most rare. (A secret: it is almost ungodly.) Are these things holy then? I'm not so sure. Poets ought to disagree; only true. Intangible things in literature And not therefore worthwhile to pursue. But oh my goodness me, aren't you a sight; Your bones all knit up in the morning light.
Regan Detwiler, dot 1, dot 2, dot 3, photography, 2015
Issue 3 of Hel[icon] features over 50 student artists from the University of Michigan undergraduate community.