The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, April 2, 2009 - 3B
. Michigan's most creative major
A new interdisciplinary
performance art program
to form at the University
By SARAH CHAVEY
Daily Arts Writer
It's a rainy Sunday evening and libraries
all over campus are filling with students
getting ready to hit the books. But in a
hallway tucked away somewhere on North
Campus, a different kind of study group is
Four students stand behind a table with
miniature costumes draped around their
necks, their hands in shoes placed flat
across the tabletop. Partners duck behind
them, lending their arms to the characters
as a woman sits in front of them all, guiding
their improvisational comedic conversa-
tions. These students are participants in a
performance art workshop, and, beginning
next semester, people interested in this art
form will have a home in the University.
This fall, Interarts will join the Univer-
sity's roster of majors, creating an area of
study for students interested in perfor-
mance art. The program will be a joint
venture between the University's School of
Art & Design and the School of Music, The-
atre & Dance, and it will grant graduates a
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interarts Perfor-
mance. The collaboration between schools
will allow students to take advantage of
both theater and dance training in move-
ment, narrative, set and lighting design as
well as art and design training in visual
language vocabulary, experimental art and
new media technologies.
University professors and members of
the Interarts board Holly Hughes and Mal-
* colm Tulip were inspired to create a pro-
gram in which students could feel free to
develop their artistic voices in new, time-
based work without the constraints of the
more narrowly focused tracts offered by
the two schools.
"A program like this is for those people
who don't want to be forced to decide on a
discipline, but know that they are an artist
and want to use all the skills that they have
at their disposal," Tulip said.
Until now, most performance art cur-
ricula have been limited to graduate pro-
grams, making the new program at the
University one of the first of its kind. Not
only will the major be rare for an under-
graduate program, but it will also follow a
uniquely individualistic approach to educa-
tion. Students will choose from what Tulip
dubbed a "smorgasbord" of classes (like
playwriting, digital studio, costume design,
movement, drawing and acting classes),
and take responsibility for shaping their
own educational experience.
Such broad experience is needed in what
is a truly varied art form. Performance art
can range from monologue performances
to body art and puppetry to flash mobs.
Artists also come from a wide variety of art
backgrounds. Still, Hughes and Tulip wel-
come these challenges.
The smallsize of the program will engen-
der cohesion and allow advisors to keep a
watchful eye on each student's progress
through discussion groups like the weekly
"We'll talk about topics related to per-
formance to give people sort of a sense of,
you know, our own little clubhouse, and to
build a sense of community," Hughes said.
Students can also benefit from visiting
performers and University alumni. Pat
Olesko studied sculpture at the University
in the late '64s and came to performance
art after one particular project made her
The University's Interarts program is one of the few undergraduate performance art concentrations in the country.
realize how useful her body could be in
conveying her ideas.
"I started hanging things on myself and
using that as a way to expand and comment
on things not only'that I was attending but
things that I was creating, as the work itself
would create a performance," Olesko said.
Olesko aims to shed light on what she
perceives as absurd elements of society
using vivid, visual structures and verbal
"I think that art is a fool's tool to ... not
change society, but to illuminate it, and, so,
art is actually the expression that words
ignore and can't reach," she said.
These qualities extend into most art
forms, but it's the "live" aspect of perfor-
mance art that makes it such a dynamic,
interactive art, and one that will no, doubt
make its mark around campus.
"For this kind of program, everywhere is
(a performance space)," Tulip said. Which
means you can expect artistic performers
to become a mainstay around town.
"You know, we'll be invading - through
the correct channels of course!" Tulip said.
"We'll be fighting for space, you know, like
all performance. Once you introduce per-
formance then you're fighting for space ...
but we're tough fighters."
Not only must they toil for physical loca-
tion, but performance artists must also vie
for space in the general public discourse.
about I I
prised if anyone gets taught the history of
this kind of work," Tulip said.
In order to address the obscure history
of performance art, the new major will
also be accompanied by a lecture series
discussing the development of the art
"There are very established people work-
ing and have been working a long time,"
Tulip said. "And I think when they see that
See INTERARTS, Page 4B
HOLY WEEKAT CANTERBURY HOUSE
Sunday, April 5th - The Palm Sunday
Jazz Mass 5:00 p.m. A festive re-
creation of the triumphal entry of Christ
into Jerusalem. We'll have a Jazz parade!
Thursday, April 9th - Agape Supper
5:30 p.m. A simple Mediterranean meal
in conmemoration of The Last Supper.
Thursday, April 9th - For the Bible Tells
Me So 7:30 p.m. Screening of Daniel
Karslake's 2007 documentary that
explores the intersection between
religion and homosexuality in America.
Friday, April 10th -Good Fiday Litury
5:30 p.m. Featuring a reading of the
Passion Gospel by the women of
Saturday, April l1th - The Easter Jazz
Vigil 8:00 p.m. A culmination of the Holy
Week celebration, with fire-juggling and
the re-telling in scripture and music of the
whole salvation story.