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Exhibitions and Events

U-M exhibition amplifies voices of caregivers, America's fastest-growing workforce

By Sydney Hawkins

Marisa Jahn

ANN ARBOR—A new solo exhibition of work by renowned social practice artist Marisa Morán Jahn will open at the University of Michigan’s Stamps Gallery Jan. 24.

The exhibition, “Marisa Morán Jahn: The Mighty and The Mythic,” will bring together three projects for the first time that highlight Jahn’s deep and meaningful collaborations with low-wage immigrants, caregivers and youth.

One project will center around Jahn’s seven-year-long artist residency with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, during which time she developed two mobile studios—the “Nanny Van” and “CareForce One”—to travel across the country to meet, listen and learn from domestic workers.

Together, they developed public art projects, a domestic worker app, performances, workshops and the 2017 documentary “Careforce Travelogues” on ITVS/PBS digital. The documentary will be screened at the Stamps Gallery Jan. 26.

Another work at the center of “The Mighty and the Mythic” highlights Jahn’s ongoing Bibliobandido project, which she developed in 2010 with residents of El Pital, a Honduran village with a low literacy rate. The character she created, “El Bibliobandido” (the story bandit), terrorizes little children until they offer him stories that they have written.

Jahn has brought the character to other communities where storytelling is equally urgent, spawning thousands of Bibliobandido believers in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Seattle, Miami and New York. As part of the programming for the exhibition, she’ll also bring Bibliobandido to Ann Arbor for a Feb. 12 workshop with the nonprofit writing center 826michigan that will be open to families with children ages 8-17.

For her third project, Jahn builds on a playful and participatory installation in her newest body of work titled “Mirror/Masks,” a series of GIFs and photographs that explore how we see ourselves reflected or distorted in others. Drawing inspiration from Greek, Asian, and African traditions of mask-making and dramaturgy, Jahn plays with tropes of portraiture and performance in photography to examine self-presentation in an era of ubiquitous screens and mirrors.

Jahn’s artwork draws heavily from her own childhood in Texas as the daughter of Chinese and Ecuadorian parents, as well as her varied vocational past working as an elementary school teacher, caretaker, carpenter, community organizer, and now as a university professor and mother.

“Each of the works in this exhibition highlights the artist’s deep engagement with the stories of everyday people, mundane routines and a desire to build an inclusive society,” said Srimoyee Mitra, Stamps Gallery director and curator. “‘Marisa Morán Jahn: The Mighty and the Mythic’ celebrates and acknowledges the daily struggles and minor victories of the 99 percent that make up the spirit of our contemporary society in the 21st century.”

The opening reception for the exhibition will take place immediately following Jahn’s Stamps Speaker Series talk at the Michigan Theater at 5:10 p.m.

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U-M Stamps School of Art & Design

Stamps Gallery

Marisa Morán Jahn

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