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UMS Artist in Residence Update: New Paintings by Siobhan McBride

Editor’s note: Siobhan McBride is a visual artist and one of our 2015-2016 artists in residence. As part of this program, artists in residence attend UMS performances to inspire new thinking and creative work within their own art forms. Siobhan attended A Christmas Carol, by the National Theatre of Scotland. Below is her response to the performance.

Here are a couple of paintings I’ve been working on recently:

Photos: New painting by Siobhan McBride.

I’ve always felt more comfortable in enclosed spaces. I prefer my back to the wall in restaurants, booths rather than tables, sleeping bags, attic spaces, small groves of trees, the geometry of a clam shell. A trapped elevator scenario causes me no grief.

In a large studio I once occupied, I built a cave out of paper mache and chicken wire, simply furnished with a busted short-legged upholstered chair. I used it as a panic room. A place to curl up, read, obsessively playback unfortunate social interactions, or nap. A space that denied attackers the advantage of surprise. Likewise, the spaces in my paintings tend to feel compressed, close. I like flatness, painted elements pressed forward, tectonically still, or shallowly shuffling like playing cards.

The hockey painting is unfinished. It has a distinctly differently space than many of my other paintings, perhaps influenced by recently seeing a number of performances on stages at Hill Auditorium and the Power Center as part of the UMS residency. The sense of enclosure is present in the painting, but more vaguely so.

I’ve always been fond of creating scenes from a seemingly hidden vantage point, like a hunting blind, a battlement, seeing without the burden of being seen. A different kind of enclosure, that is apart from the scene rather than within it.

christmas carol production
Photo: Scene from A Christmas Carol. Photo courtesy of the artists.

In December, I saw A Christmas Carol performed by the National Theatre of Scotland. The set was small and tight (my ideal viewing situation!) and the presence of haze allowed me to literally disappear in a puff of smoke while I enjoyed some amazing, often alarming puppets and the details of their incredible set.

Interested in more? Follow the adventures and process of other UMS Artists in Residence.

Watching Sankai Juku: I want to climb up Sleeping Bear Dunes in bright sunlight

Editor’s note: Siobhan McBride is a visual artist and one of our 2015-2016 artists in residence. As part of this program, artists in residence attend UMS performances to inspire new thinking and creative work within their own art forms. Siobhan saw Sankai Juku, the Japanese Butoh dance company. Below is her (sometimes fictionalized!) response to the performance.

A thread of sand pours from an inverted glass pear suspended over the stage. The movement of bodies finding their seats, shuffling in damp coats, fans the thread, causing it to billow and shudder. The stage floor is covered with a layer of sand.

The performers look ageless, androgynous, naked to the waist with white powdered skin and smooth heads. Their movements are both chaotic and mathematical. They twitch like the dial on a bathroom scale. Their limbs trace paths, the growth of a vine seen in stop-motion, the scuttle of invertebrates. At times their bodies are contracted like an infant reptile flexing new muscles against the shell. Their dancing reveals unpredictable and dangerous appetites, bubbles of gas coming out of solution in their veins.

sankai juku

My body becomes similarly constricted, mirror neurons blazing. I am a potato expanding under duress against hard dark granules. My shoulders tense and rise towards my ears, hands clenched, legs tightly crossed. I sense choked blood flow, whitening flesh. It seems that my breath is audible to everyone. The music is persistent. I wish it would pause so I could listen to sand crunching, swishing fabric, muscles groaning.

I want to climb up Sleeping Bear Dunes in bright sunlight. Feel my legs as the sand gives way and smell the chemical sweetness of burning skin. The promise of sandwiches in a bag, cheese sweating in tin foil, cold lake water on the other side.

Sand continues to accumulate on the stage floor in a smooth pile. I am alert to the audience’s micro-movements. Next to me, a man touches his face, on the other side a bouncing knee and croaking stomach. The dancers are in groups, moving as limbs of the same creature. The irises of their eyes appear very large and black. Their gaping mouths, black and tongue-less, broadcast soundless screams.

sankai juku

After the encore, the audience pools in the foyer. Some are ebullient, full of praise, others look bleary. Moments earlier I had left the restroom with the back of my skirt tucked high into my tights, revealing through sheer fabric my utilitarian cotton underwear. I am appreciative of the notification from a stranger.

Walking down the cement pathway leading from the center, I stop and crouch to pick up four smooth white pebbles. They are tiny, smaller than knuckle bones. Surreptitiously, I slip them into my mouth. They’re cool inside my flushed face. They taste like minerals, quartz, grass. There is a German artist, suffering from schizophrenia, who puts objects, pieces of wood or cork, minute balls of aluminum foil into his body, ears, mouth, ass. A compulsive and protective gesture to prevent perceived penetrating forces or, I imagine, the draining of certain invaluable essences. R. Crumb’s brother would ritualistically pass long pieces of string through his digestive tract over the course of days. An act of purification? When I was a kid I used to eat small pieces of napkins, bits of dead skin, tiny bites of my raincoat sleeve, crayon shavings.

In the car afterwards, I am anxious and fitful. I want to kick a bale of hay until the grasses are spread many acres wide. I want to be at the bottom of an enormous dog pile of actual dogs. I want to chug gallons of lake water until I throw up or get drunk. I begin to imagine Indian rug burns being performed up and down both arms and legs by robust women in white peasant headdresses. After a while these urges disintegrate and I finally start the car.

Photos of Sankai Juku are courtesy of the artist.

UMS Artists in Residence: Meet Siobhan McBride

Editor’s note: UMS is in the second season of its Artists in “Residence” program. Five residents from across disciplines take residence at our performances throughout our season. We’ll profile each resident here on UMS Lobby.

Siobhan McBride was born in Seoul, South Korea and currently lives in Ann Arbor. She received her MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She was an artist in residence at Yaddo, Jentel, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been exhibited at NURTUREart, the Pelham Art Center, Eight Modern, and this past winter at Miami Project with DC Moore.

siobhanUMS: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the arts.

Siobhan McBride: I was born in South Korea, Seoul (probably) and came to the US when I was six months. At that time, I was described as “happy in the bath” and that, I suppose, is still true. I always enjoyed creating pictures and writing stories and continued to do both throughout school. My love of painting eventually won out. I wanted to find something I could do for my entire life, and never reach the end of it. For me, it’s painting.

UMS: Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Where can we find you working on your art?

SM: I work in gouache, opaque watercolor, on a relatively small scale. I use a lot of tape to create edges. I often cut out shapes with a blade, remove the tape, and paint into that negative space. The tape becomes a kind of brush, a tool for making a specific mark. The painting evolves by layering these shapes so that the surface rises like a topographical map.

I want the paintings to feel intimate, familiar, and somewhat strange. The scenes remind me of fragments of movies, novels, or things caught in the corner of my eye. I am interested in the idea of being plagued by certain images or snippets of memory, getting hung up on them, and not knowing why.

I have a studio in the house.

UMS: What inspires your art? Can you tell us about something you came across lately (writing, video, article, piece of art) that we should check out too?

SM: My art is inspired by strong feelings, weird memories, and strange color situations.

Four things…

A friend of mine, Jeremy Coulliard, had a show at YOUNGWORLD in Detroit, Believes in Reincarnation Hates hugs. It was populated by androgynous humanoids, monster lovers, penguins, and knick knacks. An animation projected on a large wall pulls you through a romantic, fantastical, pink hued landscape. In the landscape, among other things and messages, there is a romance between an extraterrestrial and a sea creature; they embrace in a gentle river. It was a very moving experience.

I just read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and loved it.

I am slightly obsessed with the song Forever Dolphin Love by Connan Mockasin.

This summer on the way up north, we stopped at Call of the Wild, a natural history museum in Gaylord, MI. They have awesome dioramas with a large number of taxidermy animals. The painted backdrops aren’t always convincingly trompe-l’œil and they’re often more interesting because of it. Definitely worth the seven dollars.

UMS: Are you engaged with the local arts community? Tell us about groups or events that we should know about.

SM: I moved to Ann Arbor fairly recently, so no, not yet…

UMS: Which performances are you most excited about this season and why?

SM: Leif Ove Andsnes on the piano. I listened to some of his playing and found it very lovely. There is something intimate about a single piano leading you down a path. I’m also excited about Young Jean Lee Theater Company’s Straight White Men. I saw Untitled Feminist Show at the New Museum in New York and thought it was fantastic.

UMS: Anything else you’d like to say?

SM: I am thrilled to be participating in this residency! Oh, man, I love dogs.

Interested in more? Watch for more artist profiles on UMS Lobby throughout this week.

Announcing 2015-2016 UMS Artists in Residence!

UMS has something to inspire everyone, from classical music, jazz, global, and indie music, to dance and theater. From left to right, artists on our 2015-2016 season: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, to perform works of dance pioneer William Forsythe; My Brightest Diamond, who opens our season with the Detroit Party Marching Band; theater and cabaret artist Taylor Mac; violinist Gil Shaham, whose performance of Bach’s violin partitas collides with the iconic film world of David Michalek, and Antigone by Sophokles, in a new translation by Ann Arbor’s Award-winning poet Anne Carson. Photos courtesy of artists.

UMS is pleased to announce the second installment of our artists in “residence” program. Why “residence” in quotes? Because instead of a traditional artist residence, during which artists quite literally live at the place where the artist residency is located, we’re asking area artists to take residence at our performances.

We received many wonderful applications. Thanks to all who applied for the chance to experience your work.

Five artists (including visual, literary, and performing artists) have been selected to take “residence” at UMS performances, using these experiences as a resource to support the creation of new work or to fuel an artistic journey. Residents will receive complimentary tickets to select UMS performances; a $500 stipend; gatherings with fellow residents; and behind-the-scenes access to UMS staff and artists, when available. In return, UMS asks that artists share their artistic journeys via residency entrance and exit interviews and on the blog; participate in select UMS Education & Community Engagement events; and share artistic work generated during the residency when possible. Rights to all artistic work produced as a result of the residency will remain entirely with the artists.

Introducing our 2015-2016 artists in residence

Russell Brakefield received his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. He lives in Ann Arbor where he teaches writing at the University of Michigan and works as a bookseller and as the managing editor for Canarium Books. His most recent work appears in The Southern Indiana Review, Hobart, and Language Lessons: An Anthology by Third Man Records.

Siobhan McBride was born in Seoul, South Korea and currently lives in Ann Arbor. She received her MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She was an artist in residence at Yaddo, Jentel, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been exhibited at NURTUREart, the Pelham Art Center, Eight Modern, and this past winter at Miami Project with DC Moore.

Helena Mesa is the author of Horse Dance Underwater and a co-editor for Mentor & Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Indiana Review, Pleiades, Third Coast, and Puerto del Sol. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, and Writers in the Heartland. She lives in Ann Arbor and teaches at Albion College.

Andrew Morton’s plays include Bloom (a winner at the 2013 Write Now Festival and winner of the 2013 Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award), which received its world premiere at Flint Youth Theatre in May 2014 and was subsequently published by Dramatic Publishing, Inc. Other works include: February (shortlisted for the 2007 Royal Court Young Writers Festival), Drive-Thru Nativity, and the collaborative projects State of Emergency, EMBERS: The Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project, and the upcoming The Most [Blank] City in America, premiering at Flint Youth Theatre in April 2016. As a community artist and educator, Morton has worked with a range of organizations across the globe, including working alongside Salvation Army community counselors in Kenya to incorporate participatory theatre into their work with people living with HIV/AIDS. While based in the UK, he worked with several educational theatre companies and was the Education Officer at the Blue Elephant Theatre where he ran the Young People’s Theatre and the Speak Out! Forum Theatre projects. Morton is currently based in Flint, Michigan where he teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint and is Playwright-in-Residence at Flint Youth Theatre.

Ben Willis is a bassist, improviser, and composer whose affinities lie in collaborative projects, new music, improvisation, and the merging of cross-disciplinary elements. He released an album of solo double bass compositions, Egret/Flatlander, in summer of 2015. His jazz-rock band, Lovely Socialite, will be releasing their second album, Toxic Consonance, in fall of 2015. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, and performs often throughout the midwest.

You’ll be able to follow the artists’ journeys throughout the UMS season right here on UMS Lobby.

In this video, 2014-2015 residents chat about what they loved about the program.

Interested in learning more? See this season’s application requirements.

Members of the media interested in more information about the program should contact Anna Prushinskaya, manager of digital media, at Download press release

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