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Arts Initiative

Student art exhibition ‘Respond/Resist/Rethink’ coming to all three U-M campuses

Jessica Jenks

“The Dream Isn’t Dead, The Dream Was Never Here,” by Charlie Reynolds.

The arts play a central role in shaping both cultural and political narratives, and artists have often been at the forefront of social change by offering alternate ways of seeing and thinking.

A new partnership across the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses will feature the compelling work created by U-M students this fall in conjunction with the Arts & Resistance theme semester.

“Respond/Resist/Rethink” tells the stories of oppression, free speech, societal expectations of beauty, and marginalized people through photographs, paintings, videos, posters and more. The exhibition showcases artwork’s potential to change hearts and minds in modern society.

“This exhibition is really a unique opportunity to showcase artwork by dozens of student artists from all three U-M campuses. We’re excited to provide a platform for students to reflect on their individual and shared experiences, and to collectively envision a better future. It should be a very powerful exhibition,” said Joe Levickas, program director for student engagement at the Arts Initiative.

The 2023 exhibition runs Nov. 3-Dec. 9, will include a variety of artistic media and will be displayed in four galleries across the U-M system: the Stamps Gallery and Duderstadt Center Gallery on the Ann Arbor campus, Riverbank Arts at UM-Flint and Stamelos Gallery Center at UM-Dearborn.

“Black Illumination,” by Jordyn Hardy
“Black Illumination,” by Jordyn Hardy.

“We are thrilled and honored to be participating in ‘Respond/Resist/Rethink’ this year, and we have found this inaugural collaboration between all three U-M campuses to be invaluable for both students and staff in numerous ways,” said Laura Cotton, art curator for the Stamelos Gallery Center. “The displayed student works at our venue range in themes from human rights to climate justice to the importance of hope within our daily lives.”

“Respond/Resist/Rethink” has been shown to U-M communities for three years. However, this year’s show premieres 82 new works and is the first time that the exhibition is being shown as part of the theme semester.

“Respond/Resist/Rethink” is an exhibition by U-M students for students. Each art space will feature underrepresented stories and artists’ attempts to tell their own stories from their own perspective.

U‑M students were invited to submit artwork through an open call, and works for the exhibit were chosen by an expert jury of professional arts staff.

“Embrace Humanity, Eradicate Homelessness,” by Regina Marie Arriola
“Embrace Humanity, Eradicate Homelessness,” by Regina Marie Arriola.

These works include paintings such as “Embrace Humanity, Eradicate Homelessness” by Regina Marie Arriola, which tells the story of a man experiencing homelessness, selling newspapers to earn a couple of dollars in order to survive the rest of the day.

Another piece of art that will be on display is “The Dream Isn’t Dead, The Dream Was Never Here” by Charlie Reynolds. It discusses white supremacy and the dangers marginalized people face in America. The exhibition tells various stories of social injustices and aspirations for a more equitable community in the spaces that students inhabit.

“Stamps Gallery initiated ‘Respond/Resist/Rethink’ at the Stamps School in 2020 to hold space for students’ voices and ideas for building a more just and equitable community through art and design,” said Srimoyee Mitra, director of the Stamps Gallery.

“Transferring The Nine Commentaries On The Communist Party In China,” by Nancy Yang

“It is a pleasure and honor to expand the reach of the exhibition to students across U-M campuses and disciplines in conjunction with the Arts & Resistance theme semester. It promises to be a vital showcase of the power of art and creativity to inspire positive social change at U-M and beyond.”

Nalani Duarte, graduate student and Flint art curator, said students across all three U-M campuses will showcase their artistic interpretations of what the exhibition’s title means to them on a personal level.

“My experience working with this exhibition really opened my eyes to how diverse the backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences are from all of the U-M students across the state,” Duarte said.

“I believe that this diversity in itself acts as an ‘alternate model and way of thinking’ by bringing attention to subject matters and social issues that are important to an individual that not everyone may have experienced in their life.” 

Each gallery will host special events on separate dates, providing guests the opportunity to meet the student artists and view artwork communally. All events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition is funded by the U-M Arts Initiative.