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U-M's 'Daisy Chain' project explores post-pandemic perspectives of national and regional artists

By Stephanie Harrell

Scythian Media

ANN ARBOR—In this time of reentry, when we are cautiously emerging from a year in isolation and also merging back into action at breakneck speed, a new video zine by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery offers the opportunity for contemplation in its assemblage of artists, art and ideas.

Daisy Chain” is presented as a compilation of short vignettes documenting the candid and illuminating perspectives of nine national and regional artists as the world opens back up. According to project collaborators, the title refers to the traditional string of daisies threaded together by their stems, as well as the contemporary wiring scheme of the same name used in electronics and engineering. 

It was released at noon June 30 via the institute’s YouTube channel

“‘Daisy Chain’ explores the ties that bind us, the past and the future, and the loose ends,” said Amanda Krugliak, curator of the U-M Institute for the Humanities. “Perhaps as important, it alludes to surprising and new combinations, and a renewed capacity to find joy.”

For the project, which is 35 minutes long, Krugliak interviews artists with diverse experiences, perspectives and practices. She asked each of them the same series of questions: How do you feel you are emerging from the past year? What kind of world are you trying to build for the future? How are you thinking about responsiveness and responsibility? Are there any creative strategies you have identified moving forward?

Their answers—along with images of their work—have been strung together visually in one video, one artist connecting to another in sequence. The video was co-produced and edited by gallery project coordinator Juliet Hinely.

“This may be my favorite project of the year,” said Krugliak, who launched “House Calls” at the outset of the pandemic, a streaming series that offered virtual studio visits with artists. “So much has happened over the last year and their responses go against the rhetoric of the day, really getting at the heart of the matter from so many perspectives. The artists talk candidly about working through the past year, while also discussing the intersection of ideas surrounding systemic racism, health and our responsibilities to one another.”

Participating artists include Ruth Leonela Buentello (San Antonio), Abigail DeVille (New York City), Hubert Massey (Detroit), Shanna Merola (Hamtramck, Michigan), Scott Northrup (Detroit/Dearborn, Michigan) David Opdyke (New York City), Shani Peters (New Orleans), Sheida Soleimani (Providence, Rhode Island) and Jeffrey Augustine Songco (Grand Rapids, Michigan). 

This project is supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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