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Winter arts happenings at U-M

Jamie Sherman Blinder

"Aurora" at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

Don’t let the chilly temperatures keep you stuck at home; the arts abound at U-M, even through the winter months. Visit the below events and exhibitions when you need some inspiration to get you through to spring. 

Aurora (through Dec. 30, Matthaei Botanical Gardens)

The horticulture team at Matthaei Botanical Gardens turned the conservatory into a vibrant canvas of colors, shapes and scents inspired by the stunning beauty of Aurora Borealis. If you cannot view the light display in nature, why not experience it immersively among the plants?

Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina (through Jan. 7, UMMA)

“Hear Me Now” is a landmark exhibition of more than 60 objects representing the work of African American potters in the decades surrounding the Civil War. It is a reckoning with the central role that enslaved and free Black potters played in the long-standing stoneware traditions of Edgefield, South Carolina. It is also an important story about the unrelenting power of artistic expression and creativity, even while under the brutal conditions of slavery—and about the joy, struggle, creative ambition and lived experience of African Americans in the 19th-century American South.

The Godfather Live (Jan. 7, Hill Auditorium) 

A concert experience you can’t refuse: With all of the plot twists, emotional outbursts, and suspenseful scenes of a true grand opera, this is a great opportunity to view this chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan’s rise and near fall from power as the Grand Rapids Symphony performs Nino Rota’s famous Oscar-nominated score live to picture at Hill Auditorium. 

Orson Welles as Family Man: Son, Husband, Father (Jan. 11 through April 29, Hatcher Gallery)

This exhibit provides a unique glimpse into the actor/director Orson Welles’ private life. Unlike previous U-M Library exhibits that focused on the artist at work, this display shows him in informal and familial environments, revealing a depth and complexity of character that are often overshadowed by his fame and professional achievements. The photographs and documents displayed showcase a variety of emotional tones—warmth, humor, tenderness and passion. Candid and relaxed more than posed, they are similar to most people’s pictures in old family albums.

Culled from the Orson Welles-Beatrice Welles materials that are part of the Mavericks & Makers collection within the U-M Library’s Special Collections Research Center, each photo or letter tells a story of a connection Welles held dearly. The materials included are from two periods: the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Welles was a teenager, and the mid-1950s to early 1960s, during the early years of his marriage to his third wife, Paola Mori.

Touch Points (through March 23, Liberty Research Annex)

From the secreting labor of silkworms to the migratory lives of a public housing development in Rome, from the fantasies of the perfect home to the silvery handholds of commercial building-space, visit the Taubman College Fellows Exhibition, “Touch Points.” Fellows Strat Coffman, Anna Mascorella, Alina Nazmeeva and Salam Rida invite you to take off your hat and don others, bear witness and push against familiar fixtures into stranger lands.

Collage Concert (Jan. 20, Hill Auditorium)

The much anticipated annual Collage Concert never fails to amaze. Its captivatingly distinct format features the incredible range of SMTD ensembles and programs, with students performing one riveting work after another without pause. It’s a nonstop and exhilarating evening of virtuoso performances.

Meat for the Beast (through Feb. 18, UMMA)

“Meat for the Beast” comprises two works by the multidisciplinary artist Cannupa Hanska Luger: “This is Not a Snake” and “The One Who Checks and The One Who Balances.” 

An enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota), Luger was born and raised on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. This is Not a Snake was created there, in the aftermath of the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The “snake” is a serpentine monster made of riot gear, ceramics, fiber, steel, oil drums, concertina wire, ammunition cans, trash, beadwork  and other found objects. Interspersed within the creature’s body are artworks from UMMA’s collection selected by Luger and the exhibition’s curators to reflect on the historical and contemporary destruction and extraction of land as an expendable resource.