Your Cart UMS

March 27, 2018: Your Arts & Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

amanda krugliak

UMS Wallace Blogging Fellow Amanda Krugliak is an artist, curator, and arts administrator best known for performance and conceptual experiential installations, most notably as curator at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities since 2007.

I’m still patiently waiting for crocuses to be in full bloom, and I’ve been reminded yet again this year that things never quite turn out the way you expected. I’m never going to be an heiress, its official. Alert the media… and I’m not sure I still believe in the American Dream.

But I’ve reminded too, of the power of the People, their great ideas, and how many of them are right here right now. There are so many extraordinary happenings in your town…things to see, places to go, a melody that opens you up. After a long winter and a road full of pot- holes, Place is what you make it. So, turn off the space heater and the nature channel, tumbleweeds are so “yesterday.” Swap those slippers for Chelsea boots, and venture out! Because Why Not….

56th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival
March 20-25
Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is truly one of the greatest happenings every year, anywhere. 56 years old, it’s still quirky, smart, engaging, offbeat, inspiring, and inventive. It continues to bring together visual thinkers from across the globe, along with our own eclectic like- minded visionaries, all gloriously gathering in style to celebrate experimental film.

Under the leadership of Director Leslie Raymond and Associate Director of Programs Katie Mc Gowan, the offerings this year surpass expectations in their relevance, and innovation. In addition to the sublime  experience of viewing so many wonderful films in competition, and attending all of the celebrations and goings on during the week, the festival offers special new programs this year well worth citing: Memories of Disintegrations: Ibero-American Experimental Film, explores Spanish and Portuguese-language films on Video8, Super *, 16mm, Super 35mm, and VHS.  Black Radical Imagination showcases films that explore racial identities beyond the restrictive boundaries and limitations often prescribed to people of color. These challenging programs extend our understanding and reach, and are representative of the bold spirit of this long running avant-garde festival. Also note a special screening of The Big House, a documentary about our own grand stadium and the labor behind the scenes that goes into the sports spectacle…from cooks to snipers. Also this year, don’t miss multi-media works Off the screen in venues across town—among them Lily Baldwin and Peter Rose// Room 2435 North Quad UM,  Razan AlSalah and Radical Democracy//Ann Arbor Art Center; and Matt Wilken// Arbor Brewing Company.

TALK: Simone Brown + Danielle Dean in Conversation
March 29, 7 pm
MOCAD, Detroit

Sociologist Simone Browne’s acclaimed book Dark Matters: On Surveillance of Blackness examines surveillance in relation to the history of transatlantic slavery and its afterlives. These themes informed in part by Browne’s research are central to Danielle Dean’s multimedia installation TrueRedRuin on view at MOCAD. This conversation between them explores the different ways that scholarship and artistic practice can overlap, dovetail, igniting critical dialogs and raising social consciousness in the process.

Exercising the Eye: The Gertrude Kasle Collection
March 10-July 22,
Alfred Taubman Gallery, UMMA, Ann Arbor

This lyrical exhibition celebrates Gertrude Kasle (1917-2016), who was a key figure in the formation of Detroit’s contemporary art community in the 1960’s and 70’s. Like other strong minded maverick women of her generation in the arts, she wanted to provide her Midwestern community with a venue in which to experience cutting edge art from centers like NYC. Yet, she also wanted to support and exhibit regional artists, so that the work of both groups could be included in that visual and critical conversation. This surprising and disarming show, which includes the work of Phillip Guston, Jane Hammond, Robert Rauchenberg, Jasper Johns, among others, captures the particular tenor of that era…the imagination, the drive of the gallerist, and the exciting way artists were connected in their inquiries. Don’t miss the incredible paintings by Grace Hartigan, with superb color and gesture that are as fresh today as in 1974. And make sure to take home a vintage poster from the original shows produced by the Kasle Gallery, which you can purchase in the gift store for a song. Now that’s a great day.

Romare Bearden
N’NAMDI center for contemporary art, Detroit

This exhibition offers an opportunity to see the works of acclaimed artist Romare Bearden, whose collages and paintings are iconic. He has influenced so many young artists who came after in regards to story, directness, use of color, and deliberateness of stroke and design. Bearden was a multidisciplinary artist ahead of the curve, interested in the intersection, influence and overlay of music, visual art, history, performance, literature, and culture. Above all, he was a humanist, genuine in his passion for the world and those in it, past, present and future tied together like a daisy chain.

Like what you read? Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

Artist? In Residence

This post is a part of a series of posts from UMS Artists in Residence. Artists come from various disciples and attend several UMS performances throughout the season as another source of inspiration for their work. UMS Artist in Residence Morgan Breon previously reflected on US/Them. In this post, she continues her exploration on being an “artist” and the meaning of “art.”

Morgan Breon is a performing and literary artist. She’s an ensemble member of Shakespeare in Detroit and the Detroit Repertory Theater. Morgan’s play “A Kiss of the Sun for Pardon,” which she wrote at the age of 13 and reprised 13 years later, received the award for “Audience Favorite” at the 2015 Two Muses Women’s Playwriting Festival and the “Jury Award” at the 2015 Detroit Fringe Festival. Morgan received a dual Bachelor of Arts and dual Masters from the University of Michigan, none of which are in theatre. Her degrees reflect her passion for youth, social justice, as well as individual and community healing. These principles influence Morgan’s work as an artist, and guide her use of the arts to impact community. Morgan credits Jesus Christ with her gift of anything creative.

I’m struggling. To write this blog. That might be because I don’t have anything to say. Or, that might be because I have too much to say…

I want to tell you who I am as an “artist-in-residence.” But I’m struggling, because part of me is still grappling with who I am as an “artist.” I know that in the eyes of many people, I am qualified to hold the title of “artist.” But as I step further and further into what drives me…I am wondering if I will hold the title much longer…even though my mode of communication will probably always be “art.” Confused yet? Great. Welcome.

Let’s break this down. And start from the present.

“At this point in my life, I am more interested in what art can “do,” than just “doing” art.”
 -Morgan Breon

I don’t know if this somehow disqualifies me from identifying as an “artist.” You know, since my intentions have shifted. But my love for entertaining, alone, doesn’t make me a full-on activist either. I have reconciled my “double-purpose” into one term, with many meanings: ARTivist. What is ARTivism exactly? Really, I just want to perform and get people talking — which happens to be the mission of my company.

I officially founded Heal.Be.Live., LLC in September of 2017, and the mission on our website literally states that we:

“Use art to heal a variety of communities through guided discussion and connections to available resources. #ARTivism”
Heal.Be.Live., LLC Website

Although the company is technically less than five months old, the idea for it began brewing in 2015 with one play: “Waking Up Alive.”  For those who don’t know, the term: “waking up alive” is a phrase used within the mental health field for an incomplete suicide attempt.  “Waking Up Alive” the play is centered around a similar premise. After an incomplete suicide attempt, Tabitha Blue, a young Black minister, is released from Williams Psychiatric Institution and returns to work at Harmony Church. She is met with: controversy, judgment and the threat of losing her job–from fear that her “incident” may “taint” the ministry. While the plot is not an exact reenactment of my life, it was birthed out of my life experiences. At the onset of my depression at the age of 12, one of my biggest fears was that my “emotional state” was a sinful disappointment to God. My constant thoughts about “ending it all” and “wanting to leave this place” were always shushed, albeit not settled, by my fears that death by suicide would lead to an eternity in fire and brimstone. So I suppressed. Art, more specifically, poetry and acting became my safe haven. Somehow the “sinful” feelings that I was ashamed to express publically, were celebrated, if masked in a poem or a monologue. I learned that it was ok to be sad…on stage. Just not in real life. The only problem was that once I got off stage, the sadness was still inside of me. This. Was real life.

During college, I started learning the truth about God and His “supposed” wrath…which had been replaced by these little things called “grace” and “mercy.”  “Grace,” as many might know, is “getting more than you deserve,” while “mercy” is not getting the “bad” that you deserve. This growing revelation (that continues until this day), coupled with my passion for social work and theatre led me here. Exactly where I am today: “At this point in my life, I am more interested in what art can “do,” than just “doing” art.” I’ve never been one for boxes. And maybe the birth of “ARTivism” keeps me out of boxes, and instead, traveling down a squiggly line by which I am ever: evolving, learning, growing, and creating. Shifting. I guess the sum of it is, I am neither and both an artist and activist. Yet, something about saying either/ or doesn’t feel completely “right” either. Although I must confess that I am more partial to the title of “artist.”

Heal.Be.Live., LLC is the culmination of everything that I am passionate about.  At the beginning of my UMS residency, a reading had been held of “Waking Up Alive” along with a discussion. (A short video chronicling this event can be seen here.) By the end of my UMS residency, a collaboration with: the Library Fellows Sheila Garcia and Jesus Espinoza of UM Libraries, Emilio Rodriguez of UMS and Heal.Be.Live., LLC will be held in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery on May 24, 2018 at 7 pm. This collaboration will preview my latest stage play and second official project of Heal.Be.Live., LLC entitled: “Telling Our Stories.” “Telling Our Stories” is a docu-play that strives to empower the voices of Black women in America by creating a space for them to tell their own, full stories. These full stories involve the stories of over 20 women and over 200 hours of conversation. (An example of the docu-play format can be seen here.) I am ready to start more conversations around more topics. “Telling Our Stories” is the next step. So, if you’re even just a little interested in what ARTivism is, this event will be a great introduction.

In sum, I’ll leave you with the ideology that gave Heal.Be.Live., LLC its name: “In order to live, you must first “be.” In order to “be,” you must first heal. Heal. Be. Live. For more information about my artistry, check out our website at:

For a brief summary of what we do, watch the video below!

Follow this blog for more updates from Morgan throughout this season. Learn more about Renegade this season.

Love great music, theater, and dance?

Love great music, theater, and dance?

Surely your inbox has room for one more email... Sign up for notifications on new digital and live performances, plus season updates.

Thanks! We'll keep you updated.