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April 04, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-04

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 4, 2005

ARTS

Prisoner art
highlights
humanity
of inmates
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer

When walking into the 10th annual exhibition from

FOREST CASEY/Daily

Jon Stewart performs at the Detroit Opera House.

Jon Stewart delights
Detroit audience

the Prison Creative Arts Proj-
ect, the featured artworks' vivid
imagery and sweeping tomes
completely enthrall visitors. The
overriding theme might seem to be
the isolation and seclusion of pris-
ons, but the works span numerous
genres and mediums; one featured
painting shows a brooding Afri-
can-American man draped in an
American flag, apparently bound
by it, while another artist renders
his works entirely on matchbooks,
creating impeccably detailed pic-
tures with a pen through a unique
artistic effect called "pointillism."
Despite diverse methodologies

The 10th
Annual
Exhibition
of Art by
Michigan
Prisoners
Today and Tuesday
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Free
At Duderstadt
Center Gallery on
North Campus

EUGENE ROBERTSON/ Daily
Former inmate India Stewart looks at some of the artwork by Michigan prisoners in the Duderstadt
Center Gallery on North Campus yesterday.

By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Arts Editor

Who can charismatically imitate
a dog eating his own explosive diar-

rhea and a man
fucking a pinata
and still main-
tain the audi-
ence's respect?
At the Detroit
Opera House, Jon

Jon Stewart
Detroit Opera
House

jokes put his act over the top. His tim-
ing was impeccable, and the audience
was often eating, or laughing, right
out of his hands. The political com-
mentary impressed the liberal-leaning
crowd and often seemed to play on his
work from "The Daily Show."
Performing without an opening
act, Stewart looked very comfortable
onstage and immediately launched
into his act without falter. He over-
came a sometimes overbearing audi-
ence that shouted to be included in
his performance.
There were a few instances when
he devoted too much time to these
spectators though; while his respons-
es to them were funny, the comments
from the audience got tiresome. He
also, unfortunately, reused some
tired jokes that have made appear-
ances in his past stand-up acts and
some "Daily Show" episodes.
In the last part of his approxi-

and presentations, a common thread connects all the
works featured: The artists are all incarcerated adults
who create their works entirely inside of Michigan's
prisons.
The art exhibition, which has grown from 77 works.
by 50 prisoners in 16 prisons when it began in 1996 to
300 works by 200 artists in 42 of Michigan's 52 pris-
ons today, is displayed annually through the efforts of
PCAP. The project began in 1990 with the advent of a
theater workshop at a prison in Coldwater, after a Uni-
versity student enrolled in English Prof. Buzz Alexan-
der's English 319 course made contact with two women
in the facility. The women, who were serving life sen-
tences, expressed interest in the course as well.

Alexander, who founded PCAP and now serves as
curator with Art and Design Prof. Janie Paul, frequently
made the 90 minute trip to Coldwater along with several
others, and the project grew from there. "We got to work
with amazing human begins who were very talented and
challenged us," Alexander said. "We just kept going,
and found out that we could call other facilities and say
'we have this to offer to you,' and most of them would
embrace it."
Those working with PCAP are mostly volunteers
recruited from Alexander's English 310 and 319 cours-
es and Paul's Art 454, along with two paid employees
funded through grants and donations. Through hands-
on interaction, the group seeks to bring a unique ele-
ment to the prisoners' lives. "We (believe) people have
a universal right to grow, no matter what they've done
or what's happened to them," Alexander said. Most
proceeds from the show benefit the artists' continued
efforts, providing them with any supplies possible to
enhance their limited resources. "(When the prisoners
are released), they are armed with something we have
given them, which is a trust in their own creativity and
ability to work with others," Alexander said.
The exhibition also aims to dispel stereotypes about
the prisoners. Alexander said that the public often regards
them untalented and subhuman; however, when people

view the gallery, "it's just a huge range of color, and por-
traits, and fantasies, and landscapes and prison themes
and it's very, very rich. People can't think in terms of
those stereotypes anymore."
Because the project is in its 10th year and there are
now so many entries, an especially powerful collection
is on display at this year's exhibition, Rackham student
and PCAP intern/volunteer Emily Harris said. "(Since)
we don't have a huge space, we've had to request that the
artists be more original, work harder and dig deeper in
themselves," Harris said. As a result, she added, "(The
work is) more personal ... It's more intense."
Tomorrow's closing reception, which follows a week
of special events in conjunction with the exhibition, will
provide visitors with an opportunity to meet purchasers of
the art and families of the incarcerated artists. "It's often
very moving to see the families there, looking around the
gallery," Alexander said.
The reception is also a chance for visitors to reflect
on the larger implications and impact of the show,
which Alexander believes to be PCAP's central mis-
sion. "This (show) is recognition that we've incarcerat-
ed so many people ... This is about the country we live
in; it's about social and economic justice." Ultimately,
he said, "This is work that matters because of all the
human beings affected."

I
4
I
I
I

Stewart performed in front of what
he described as his "most perverse
audience," yet afterward, women
were still screaming that they want-
ed to have his children.
Topics ranged from the giant
Uniroyal tire welcoming visitors to
Detroit, to the media circus, "suck-
ing the tit of human misery" in the
Schiavo case.

Strong cast propels formulaic medical drama

Stewart hypnotized the crowd mately hour-and-a-half set, Stewart
with his sometimes lewd but always drank a beer and discussed drugs,
down-to-earth humor. Stewart didn't alcohol, school shootings and the
pigeonhole himself into "Daily tensions that seem to erupt between
Show" topics and catered to the different religious views, blaming
Detroit crowd in the first minutes of arrogance for many of the problems.
his show, making cracks about local He managed, much like his work on
issues such as the condition of the "The Daily Show," to wrap pointed
city and the roads. political commentary within his
He seemed happy to interact with quick comedic wit.
the audience, sometimes oie on one, Overall Stewart was very rel-
and was forced to commqpt on the evant and incredibly entertaining;
outcome of the Michigan State game he charmed the audience with his
during the 10 p.m. show after people laid-back performance. Afterward,
started yelling about the loss. Stew- he even ran back onstage to answer
art actul sung, "Tomorrow" from audience questions and in auto-
"Annie in response to the overre- graphs. It was clear "y Stewart's
acting crowd's disappointment. enthusiasm that his heart was in his
Suprisingly, Stewart's ability to work, and that he enjoyed perform-
inctrnf-1e- physical humor into his ing foratie crowd. ""

By Samantha Force
Daily Arts Writer

Television has become increasingly
obsessed with the medical community

in recent years;
shows like "ER"
and "Scrubs"
prove that a hos-
pital can be fertile
ground for drama
and comedy.
ABC's new drama
"Grey's Anatomy"

Grey's
Anatomy
Sundays at 10 p.m.
ABC
aims, without any

Each episode of "Grey's Anatomy"
covers the 48-hour shift of 20 interns
vying for a few coveted positions in
Seattle Grace Hospital.
In their grueling first shift, every-
thing that could go wrong does, as they
are swept up in an omotional ride of
drama and competition. The pilot pri-
marily follows Meredith Grey (Ellen
Pompeo, "Old School") as she deals
with the post-coital awkwardness of
a romance with her attending doctor,
Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey,
"Iron Jawed Angels") and bonds with
fellow interns George O'Malley (T.R.
Knight) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh,
"Sideways").
From "ER," "Grey's Anatomy" loots
the heightened drama of surgical scenes

and the tenuous bonds of personal rela-
tionships forged in such a high-stress
workplace. It also steals heavily from
"Scrubs," employing voice-over narra-
tion from the insightful and funny lead,
What sets "Grey's Anatomy" apart
is its impeccable fusion of both drama
and comedy. It is a series that does
not take itself too seriously but shows
sincerity and realism when necessary.
This can be attributed to the diverse
and talented cast. Though the storyline
focuses on Meredith, "Grey's Anat-
omy" is truly an ensemble show that
demonstrates the depth and range of all
of its members.
Each character is different, with
weaknesses and strengths that emerge
as the show progresses. Pompeo and

Oh are the potential breakout stars of
"Grey's Anatomy," creating indepen-
dent and strong characters who are able
to let their vulnerability seep through
as they learn from each other.
Modern and subtle cinematogra-
phy gives "Grey's Anatomy" a unique
look and feel, rejecting the cokl and
sterile look of the stereotypical s-
pital. With a talented and promis-
ing cast, "Grey's Anatomy" has the
potential to be yet another drama hit
for the ABC network. Following in
the footsteps of other successful med-
ical shows, "Grey's Anatomy" blurs
the line between fiction and reality,
comedy and drama, and allows view-
ers a fresh look at the world of scrubs
and syringes.

4

higher ambition, to capitalize on the
success of these shows by mimicking
their model and filling their mold.

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