Arts & Resistance logo

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 under-told 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.

In a cross-campus partnership between the U-M Museum of Art, the U-M Arts Initiative, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the Fall 2023 theme semester reflected on how creativity and making can arise out of oppression and destruction. All schools and colleges were invited to participate in this campus-wide engagement. Even when people are stripped of their agency and humanity, they turn to creativity as a way to reclaim some of this agency and resist dehumanization. “Arts & Resistance” included: 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. More information can be found on UMMA's website.

Theme Semester By the Numbers

Arts & Resistance generated over 40+ public performances, 100+ courses, 11 symposiums, 19 art exhibitions, 34 lectures, and 18 mini-grants for students, creating an immersive experience that engaged the entire U-M community.

Arts Initiative's Student Mini-Grants supported student-led arts projects by individuals and student organizations. During the Fall 2023 theme semester, additional funding of up to $1,500 was available for Arts & Resistance-themed projects. 18 projects were awarded grants, totaling $11,000. These projects had an estimated 350 students involved as participants with a collective audience of over 5,000 people.

Course Connections grants support faculty incorporating arts learning activities into their classes. For activities in Fall 2023 related to the Arts & Resistance theme semester, additional funding was made available, for up to $1,500. During the theme semester, The Course Connections program awarded $16,000 to a total of23 proposalsrelated to Arts & Resistance, supporting unique arts learning opportunities for more than 500 students in those classes.

The Arts Initiative funded over 55 grants totaling $576,000.

There were more than 100 courses available in conjunction with the Theme Semester across U-M schools and colleges.

75% of event attendees said events exceeded or far exceeded expectations.

74% of responding students said they attended at least one Arts & Resistance event this semester.

Steering Committee

  • Jim Leija

    Co-Chair; Deputy Director for Public Experience and Learning, UMMA

  • Chris Audain

    Co-Chair; Managing Director, Arts Initiative

  • Laura De Becker

    Co-Chair; Chief Curator, UMMA

  • Mark Clague

    Associate Dean For Collaborations And Partnerships; Director, U-M Gershwin Initiative; Co-Editor-In-Chief, Musa; Professor Of Musicology And Entrepreneurship & Leadership, SMTD

  • Jason Young

    Associate Professor of History

  • Kelly Maxwell

    Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, LSA

  • Kelly Maxwell

    Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, LSA

  • Amanda Krugliak

    Arts Curator & Assistant Director Creative Programming, Institute for the Humanities

  • Srimoyee Mitra

    Director, Stamps Gallery

  • Julie Herrada

    Curator of the Labadie Collection, UM Libraries

  • Katie Richards-Schuster

    Director of Undergraduate Minor Programs and Associate Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work (CASC - Community Action and Social Change)

  • Mike Gould

    Director, Center for World Performance Studies

  • Debby Covington

    Director of Strategic Partnerships and Equity Initiatives, Office of Student Affairs, Michigan Engineering; Washtenaw County African American Cultural and Historical Museum representative

  • Makeda Easter

    Knight-Wallace fellow and visiting fellow at Center for Racial Justice, Ford School

  • Andrew Herscher

    Professor of Architecture, Taubman College

  • Ethriam Brammer

    Assistant Dean Rackham Graduate School

  • Jessica Jenks

    Arts Communications Strategist, Arts Initiative

  • Nora Krinitisky

    Prison Creative Arts Project, Residential College (LSA)

  • Aunrika Tucker-Shabazz

    Doctoral Candidate, Sociology

  • Sasha Crasnow

    Lecturer, LSA Residential College

  • Bethany Hughes

    Assistant Professor American Culture

  • David Choberka

    Mellon Foundation Curator for University Learning and Programs, UMMA

  • Kathryn Grabowski-Khairullah

    Program Curator, Arts Initiative