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February 15, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 8- Th M in Daily -Thursday, February5
Artists show bold Perceoptions

BY RONA SHERAMY
COLORFUL collages of magazine clips; intricate
designs in beaded jewelry; bold depictions of racist
police: The Fifth Annual Black Student Artists'
Exhibit, Perceptions and Expressions 1990, is a unique
combination of such varying art forms. The exhibit,
sponsored by Union Arts and Programming and
Minority Student Services, does not present a uniform
artistic style or a defined cultural message. Rather, it
presents the unique perspectives and techniques that
distinguish individual artists.
Stephanie Rankin's collages provide entertaining vi-
sual summaries of paparazzi. Rankin arranges geometric
magazine cut-outs into compact documents of pop cul-
ture. Photographs of the Beastie Boys, Robert Palmer,
and David Bowie spring at the viewer from all angles,
as do bold headlines and Tiger Beat-style clippings.
Rankin's slick, sharp style complements her trendy sub-
ject matter, as works titled Purple Confusion and Shout
to the Top entertain the eye like an MTV video.
Perception and Expression 1990 also presents an
artform not commonly showcased in exhibits - the
craft of jewelry design. Holly Mitchell's intricately
beaded necklaces and squares show a sensitivity to color,
pattern and technique. Mitchell works with various
fibers and materials to create unique and unconventional
pieces. She selects different color gradations of glass
beads, and mounts them on metal and leather bases. One
necklace combines pastel-colored beads with aqua-col-
ored wool. Another necklace displays beaded leather
squares hanging from a black leather strip. These intri-
cate jewelry pieces are not mere accessories to clothing;
they are small-scale works of art. ,
The Black Student Artists' Exhibit does not only
presenet placid, decorative "expressions," but disturbing
social "perceptions," as well. Ron Krowdy's series,
"Police Brutality and the Black Experience," jolts the
viewer's sensibilities. Krowdy's poster-sized computer
graphics deliver powerful visual and political messages.

His illustrations combine the intense energy of a Mar-
vel comic with the exaggerated style of a political car-
toon. The "bad guys - the white police officers -
are obviously bad. They are characterized by sneering
expressions, oversized bodies, government-sanctioned
weapons and black uniforms.
Krowdy says his works were inspired partly by the
rap groups N.W.A. and Public Enemy. Rap lyrics nar-
rate the computer images and assert the artist's opinion:
white police officers are part of a racist power structure
which discriminates against Black people. Part I of the
series, "thinkin' every nigger is selling narcotics," de-
picts white officers arresting Black youths. Part II,
"Black police showin' out for the white cop," shows a
hulking white officer overshadowing a cowering Black
policeman. Part III, "the reasons are several, most of
them federal," portrays a white policeman shooting a
Black member of a neighborhood watch. Krowdy's per-
ception and expression is strikingly clear; his message
is undiluted. "Police Brutality and the Black Experience"
exposes false accusations, demeaning treatment and un-
warranted violence.
Krowdy's forceful messages were shaped also by per-
sonal confrontations with white police officers. He de-
scribes how in Ann Arbor, he and a friend were "stopped
for no reason whatsoever," frisked, and searched.
Krowdy explains that the police system, and on a larger
scale, the government system, "has a pattern of looking
for drug dealers." For example, they are suspicious of
jeeps with tinted windows and they are especially suspi-
cious of Blacks. Krowdy does not criticize all police-
men, but is concerned more with the authority structure
they represent. This white-dominated system invites er-
ror and misuse because it relies upon assumptions and
stereotypes. Even if suspected Blacks are not arrested,
Krowdy continues, they are wrongfully frisked,
searched, and embarrassed. He admits, "I don't have the
answers but (my pictures) make people think about it."
PERCEPTIONS AND EXPRESSIONS is on display in
the Michigan Union Art Lounge through February 23.

Various Artists
Groove Yard
Mango/Island
Marketed as a world music com-
pilation covering the last 17 years,
this only has only one noteworthy
track that isn't reggae - King
Sunny Ad6's sizzling "Ja Funmi."
Having said that, Groove Yard is a
fairly tough and rootsy selection
compared to most self-congratulatory
major label compilations. Serious
reggae fans will have most of these
songs already but for those who
want to move beyond Marley's Le-
gend into real roots rock territory,
this is a very good place to start.
Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey"
shows what a soulful singer Win-
ston Rodney is; Max Romeo's "War
ina Babylon," Junior Murvin's
"Police and Thieves" (covered by
The Clash on their life-changing
Perry-produced debut LP) and his
own "Roast Fish and Cornbread"
display genius producer Lee
"Scratch" Perry's nimble fingers at
the studio controls. Jacob Miller's
excellent portrayal of Rasta life,
"Tenement Yard," hits home as
powerfully as Bob Marley's
"Trenchtown Rock." Steel Pulse's
"Ku Klux Klan" reminds one of the
brilliance of the prophetic Hands-
worth Revolution LP.
But this album is worth buying,
even if only for one song. "Sonny's
Lettah" by Black British dub poet
Linton Kwesi Johnson is a letter
from a young Jamaican in Brixton
prison to his mother in the
Caribbean. It tells how Sonny's
brother is picked up by the police
under the Sus Law; this old vagrancy
act allowed the police to detain
someone merely on suspicion to
commit a crime, and was used to
harrass Blacks and Asians in Bri-
tain's inner cities. Sonny tells how
singing duties with a voice that has
less soul than Debbie Gibson would
have if she were raised by nuns in
Oslo. Loki also sings on the other
cover, Frank Sinatra's ode to colo-
nialism "On the Road to Mandalay."
What makes this song truly out-
standing is that they have sampled
some of the horn and string fills
from the original version, uniting
two generations of pop craftsman-
ship.
Even if it's a joke, this music
is pretty ill. Its insanity is the prod-
uct of a culture that has lost control.
TV no longer produces automatons
that want to be Bobby or Cindy
Brady, but rather deranged cretins
who realize that they can't.
r---
Express yourself
in Daily Arts
Call 763-0379-

I
Burning Spear is really caught up in the "movement of Jah people." In
other words, Winston Rodney is aware that there's more to reggae than
Legend and UB40.

V V

MCKNIGHT
Continued from page 7
atic. McKnight says, "One of the
problems of this age is that we are
too often inclined to read representa-
tionally - one Black person be-
comes the emblem for entire social

A Space Odyssey,
IN 70mm DOLBY STEREO
Tonight 7:15
TT NEW Y oRK DAILYNEWS
Tonight 9:45

groups - this is an inadequate way
to read literature."
And if much of his work leaves
the reader with the impression that
his writing is largely autobiographi-
cal, it's an impression that McK-
night wants to give: "I am always
hopeful that my stories have an au-
tobiographical feel to them. I want
my readers to feel that they are real
whether they are or not... I would
never write about a place in which I
hadn't lived."
Having once believed that the
novel is an impossibly difficult nar-
rative form to master, McKnight has
just completed his first novel, I Get
On The Bus, to be published in May
by Little, Brown. He says now that
"though a short story is a natural
way of telling a story - we all sit
around bars and tell short stories and
we don't sit around and speak in
novels - in the short story form the
language requires a poetic precision
that no one could sustain in the
novel." One can only hope that in
this less poetically precise prose

McKnight will remain, as Margaret
Atwood wrote, "A writer very much
worth watching."
REGINALD McKNIGHT will read
in the Michigan Union Anderson
Room at 5 p.m. tonight.
URANUS
Continued from page 7
The Moons pay their respects to
the bedrock of American music, the
blues, in the strikingly original "Big
Boned Women Blues." The typical
twelve bar I-IV-V progression crum-
bles into metallic shards, while Yg-
drasil yelps lines like, "I went down
to the beach to watch the ships/ But
all I could see was this big boned
woman's hips/ Those big boned
women, all they want to do is eat
your chips." One of the album's two
covers is another blues tune, "One
Room Country Shack." The differ-
ence is that this is a mockery of tra-
dition. The music is conventional
blues, but bassist Loki takes over

his brother tries to prevent his arrest,
how he's beaten up by two of Her
Majesty's constabulary, and how
Sonny fights back, killing one of
the cops. Frightening and chilling to
the bone, it's a rare and powerful
piece of "political" music. Of
course, many of you will think poli-
tics and music are two independent
spheres that should be kept apart. In
that case, you should tell that to the
ghosts of Paul Robeson, Woody
Guthrie and Phil Ochs, and those
Zulu jive musicians in Soweto.
"Sonny's Lettah" and most of
Groove Yard only confirms the
dearth of soulful, substantive and ur-
gent reggae recorded since the above
tracks were laid down in the late '70s
and early '80s.
-Nabeel Zuberi'
Electronic
Getting Away With It 12"
Factory U.K.
Electronic is Bernard Sumner
(New Order), Neil Tennant (Pet
Shop Boys) and Johnny Marr (The
Smiths and The The). Written by all
three, "Getting Away With It" is
exquisite. Very conscious about
beats-per-minute, it has the same at-
tention to dance pleasure aslntro-
spective or the sublime Technique.
Sumner takes lead vocals with Ten-
nant backing him up at oppurtune
moments. You do initially feel that
the song should have been recorded
with Tennant on lead vocals too, but
Sumner gets away with that mixture
of ornery bastard and vulnerable
jilted lover he's perfected on New
Order's material.

Listening to the beautiful melody
and Marr's Andalusian-tinged guitar
makes you lament the end of his as-
sociation with Morrissey all the
more. The "Nude Remix" transforms
the song into Chicago house circa
1986 with Italian house piano fills
adding some texture. "Getting Away
With It" was a sizable hit in the
U.K.; fitting, when one considers
that The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys;
and New Order were the most impor-
tant pop groups of the decade.
-Nabeel Zuberi
OSCAR
Continued from Page 1
Two surprise absentees from the
Best Picture list are Glory and
Crimes and Misdemeanors, but
both produced performances nomi-
nated for Best Supporting Actor.
Denzel Washington (Glory) and
Martin Landau (Crimes...) will go
up against Danny Aiello of Spike
Lee's Do the Right Thing, Dan
Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy), and
two-time Oscar winner Marlon
Brando for A Dry White Season. The
last time Brando won, in 1972 fot
The Godfather, he refused to accept
the award.
Enemies, A Love Story, a com-
edy about a man who marries three
survivors of the Holocaust, produced
two nominees for the Best Support,
ing Actress honors. Anjelica Hustor
and Lena Olin will be up against Ju~
lia Roberts (Steel Magnolias),
Brenda Flicker (My Left Foot), and
Dianne Wiest (Parenthood).

0

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