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September 15, 2011 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-15

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4B - Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - Thursday, September iS, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Projects by students of Assistant Professor Beth Diamond currently stand at the He

From Page 1B
Beth Diamond, an associate
professor in the Schools of Art
& Design and Natural Resources
and the Environment, works with
the Heidelberg Project - a two-
block living multi-multi-multi-
media project in the blighted
Black Bottom district of Detroit
that bursts with found objects
from teddy bears to bicycles, as.
well as paint, posters and any-
thing at all that founder and
neighborhood resident Tyree
Guyton could imagine to be art.
As lead designer for the project's
Cultural Village, Diamond deals
with community involvement,
helping the Heidelberg sustain
and support its neighborhood.
Though this is Diamond's
first design venture in inner-city
Detroit, she has worked on simi-
lar projects in other locales, like
Los Angeles and the mountains of
"I would say if you were to track
my interest in general, it's been in
terms of digging deep into mostly
marginalized cultures," Diamond
said. "My approach is really to
collect as much information, as
many stories, to really read oral
histories, to talk to people, to be
'out there' - and then use tmyself

as a filter to get to some of the
goals that these groups might not
have thought about, or thought
were possible."
Where Newell sees an "avail-
able experimenting ground"
for her architecture projects in
Detroit, Diamond holds a dif-
ferent philosophy, stressing that
newcomer artists try to connect
to the local communities.
"Detroit is not just a play-
ground for people to come in
and to do something," she said.
"I think it's great for people to
come in and experiment in terms
of environmental possibilities
and building technologies, and
get off the grid, and make art, but
don't run over the people who are
already there. ... There's a lot of
healing that needs to happen."
Since joining the Heidelberg,
Diamond has seen the recent
upsurge of tourists and artists in
Detroit spark concerns of gentri-
fication on the part of longtime
residents. They worry the outside
visitors will stay in the city and
costs will rise.
"'We're not going to have
any place to live,' " Diamond
described the mindset.
While Diamond doesn't think
that could happen anytime soon,
she sees both fear of gentrifica-
tion and lack of it as all the more
reason to use art as a tool for

discuss Detroit authors, and she
brings in local writers to dis-
cuss their work and insights into
"That gives you a whole differ-
ent perspective on the city than
the facts and the figures and the
politics and the problems, and so
on and so forth," Hernandez said.
"You have to interact with the
city through its creative survivals
(in order to understand it)."
And when her students begin
to interact with Detroit on a cre-
ative level, what do they find?
According to Hernandez, an art
4 scene unlike any other.
"Detroit has always, at least in
my memory, had a gritty side to it
that's inspired writers," she said.
"I always like to say that we're
always influenced by the auto
industry, too. ... There's a kind of
routinization that happens when
ANNA SCHULTE/Daily you're in the plant, and a kind of
idelberg. work ethic, and a kind of ground-
edness with the real world that
social empowerment of Detroit Detroit writers have."
residents. Both Newell and Diamond
"There's no 'magic bullet' com- have also brought their personal
ing back, there's no new industry, interest in Detroit back to the
new corporation that's going to University. Newell taught a stu-
save (Detroit) and 'make all the dio last year in which her stu-
white people come back,' " Dia- dents re-imagined some of the
mond said. "The question is real- city's "derelict spaces," and this
ly, 'How do you create a viable, year she's working with a the-
sustainable and enriching mode sis group on an installation in
of life for the people who are liv- Detroit. Several of Diamond's
ing there?"' graduate students have com-
To Newell, the community pleted design projects in Detroit
value of her work is in its re-use - one of her Ph.D. students is
of previously neglected space. currently working to build ten
"I thinka lot of people appreci- environmental playgrounds in
ated the fact that we took a build- inner-city public schools.
ing that was completely unable "These aren't the students
to be used and very dangerous that are going to become the golf
because it was arsoned, and made course community designers,"
it into something else," she said of Diamond said. "There's kind of
"Salvaged Landscape." a commitment to social justice
overall ... we're in a sense obligat-
Wide-open spaces ed to use our gifts and opportuni-
ties to help others."
Residential College lecturer Diamond relishes the Uni-
Lolita Hernandez uses art to versity's proximity to Detroit as
reconcile the tension between a chance to get involved with a
Detroit's insiders and outsiders key area of the country. Yet at the
and to connect itspeople, new and same time, the University is an
old. A Detroit native and longtime independent educational institu-
auto industry worker whose pub- tion with its own goals and dis-
lished writings center around the ciplines - some of which have
Motor City, Hernandez teaches little, if anything, to do with the
a creative writing course in the Motor City - and her feeling of
University's Semester in Detroit obligation isn't universal.
program. Throughout the course, "Some of the best friends I've
Hernandez's students read and made here came from Boston,

ics)," J
their cr
come h
But t
sort of
world -
sion as
it, is in
world h
days ah
its mult
of wha
about a
the reso
make a
one pla
live in c
to con
Run by
have a
of Detri
ven Sch
ed for t
the Uni
sively o
or both
that foc
ia," exp.
I have
to Belle
do high
sity an
emy, w

husetts to study (econom- of Art & Design's Detroit Con-
anes said. "To be fair, in nections class. Sewn, painted and
edit, there's not a lot in sometimes draped with Mardi
for them, and they didn't Gras beads or pipe cleaner jewelry,
ere for Detroit." the elephants have personalities
Diamond sees Detroit as a and backstories fashioned by their
beacon for the rest of the child artists. In October, another
- that we look to Detroit Work Detroit exhibit will feature
this time of global reces- group projects created by some of
a city that's been through Diamond's students to stand at the
it and could show the Heidelberg.
ow to get past the tough In a corner of Schudlich's Work
ead. And the University, a " Detroit office leans a piece he
ouse in research and edu- made. Called "Ghost," it's a car-
is obliged to keep up its toonish drawing of Michigan Cen-
and communications with tral Station. The abandoned train
ifaceted neighbor, station's look of majestic decay has
take on the issues of made it one of the main subjects
is really to take leadership of a voyeuristic form of outsider
t's happening in a lot of Detroit art that focuses on scenes
' Diamond said. "To think of industrial destruction and fall-
nd to use the power and en splendor: "ruin porn."
urces of the University to "I've got photographs of my
difference, not just in this father in (Michigan Central) as a
ce, but ... to the way people child, getting on trains. I mean, it
ities, period." really was a beautiful building,"
Schudlich said. "It's been allowed
Theties to place to go sallow, and it just stands
there and it's just this constant
Work - Detroit gallery was reminder of the city's inability or
d with a similar mission: lack of desire to ... rectify the visu-
nect the University with al signals that go out to the world."
and the world beyond. The faade of Schudlich's sta-
the School of Art & Design, tion forms a face, which grimaces
Detroit is located in the from the canvas as if wary of its
ity's Detroit Center, the ruinous associations.
,n locus for most of its Alone against a muted back-
ions with the city. ground, "Ghost" contrasts sharply
vas very, very vital that with the assaulting brightness of
away (Work " Detroit) the Heidelberg Project; the bold,
connectivity to the city of unexpected nature of Newell's
and then beyond the city work and the youthful engage-
oit, beyond even the United ment and questioning of self and
said gallery director Ste- city that characterize "Zug."
udlich. "We never intend- "Anyone who really wants to
his space to be some place can certainly relate to Detroit in a
we were just goingto pump meaningful way - you don't have
versity of Michigan down to be from there," Janes said. But
throats." he deplores the fact that for many,
er than focusing exclu- ruins and ruin porn are the extent
n the city, the University of their interactions with the city.
, most of Work - Detroit's If the University's Detroit-
s feature pieces from minded artists have anything in
i and international artists common, it's that desire to have a
us on the same theme. The meaningful relationship with the
s current show, "Topophil- city, and to see it for what it is, the
lores spiritual or emotional good and the bad.
tions to geographic place. Hernandez spoke of the chang-
certainly not Detroit- ing perception city residents
but I think that there are hold of Semester in Detroit, and
who could say, 'Wow, yeah, the University's involvement in
a topophilic responsibility Detroit more generally. At first
Isle, because I grew up people were wary of the program,
Schudlich said. she said, but after seeing the stu-
Work - Detroit exhibits dents work and connect with the
light the gallery's Univer- city, they've come to respect it.
d Detroit connections. A "I'm like, 'Come on with it"
how, "The Gathering ofthe " Hernandez said, and laughed.
ncluded 20 baby elephants "Come on, and meet the people
cted by fifth-graders from of Detroit, and help break some of
's Marcus Garvey Acad- these barriers down - you know,
ith help from the School come on and interact with us."
w to Get Involved in Detroit
at: Spend a semester Iivinglearing and wvorkig in
Detroit with other 'U students
How: Apply online at Isa urnich edu/Sid

Detroit's Zug Island is strictly forbidden to public access.

From Page 3B
flyer and then turned around and
trashed it.
Right. In. Front. Of. Me.
So I can sympathize with the
dancers, activists, Harry Potter
enthusiasts and the lame Uni-
versity-sponsored booths try-
ing to draw people in with their
S.W.A.G. in order to strengthen
their numbers, raise awareness
and so on. But Festifall has long
since lost its sheen, congesting the
Diag and its adjoining extremities,
its flyers littering the ground and
students trying to out-shout each
other. So I decided to find a real
freshman and try to recapture my
own excitement for Festifall.
Unfortunately, I don't know
any freshmen and I'm not espe-
cially adept at spotting them. So
I decided to track one down. I
sauntered up to booths, trying to
separate one of these vulnerable
minors from the herd. I awk-
wardly peered behind one young
man as I watched him scribble
down "first year" on a clipboard.
When I asked if he would like
to be interviewed by a member

of one of the best college news-
papers in the country, he gave
me the same wild-eyed, trapped
look that had been my default
face since I entered the fray that
is Festifall. "Uh, no thanks,"
he said before scudding away. I
guess I deserved that.
I enlisted a few friends I met
up with to help me find a fresh-
man eager to give his or her take
on Festifall and all of its bountiful
offerings. Are they intimidated?
Awe-struck by this exotic display?
Are they here to collect some free
stuff? Are they here to sign up
for as many clubs as possible and
find their niche in this vast world?
What are their motives?
Standing at the edge of the
Diag with a friend, I smiled - in
what I imagined was an inviting
way - at random people, tape
recorder in hand, ready to col-
lect hard data for my debut eth-
nographic work. People hurried
past us. We got frustrated. So
we took to politely asking (read:
shouting) at random groups
asking for freshmen. Shock-
ingly, this was not an effective
technique. Apparently, if you
innocently, inquire if someone
is a freshman this is taken as
an insult. One pair looked at my

helpless friend, dragged into my
research project because I emo-
tionally blackmailed her, and
sneered, "Uh no, we're alumni."
Touche. Turns out, no one will
actually admit to being a fresh-
man and if you imply that an
upperclassman is one (blasphe-
my!), he or she will try to make
you cry for your honest mistake.
And I realized this was my
problem. Beinga freshman implies
you're young, innocent and wide-
eyed. Instead of marveling at the
sheer vastness of opportunities
(and stickers ... so many stick-
ers!) the University of Michigan
student body has to offer, I grum-
bled about how inconvenient it is,
instead of remembering how won-
derful and mysterious the Univer-
sity used to be. I glowered at the
crowds like a townie trying to
navigate Fart Fair - I mean, Art
Fair. When I finally snapped out
of my prematurely cynical funk,
I realized Festifall is really a cool,
quirky thing.
The Quidditch team was
recreating a rousing match by
having a guy don some gold
American Apparel spandex and
run around like a snitch. The
blaring music from all direc-
tions is actually kind of uplifting

if you take out your headphones. groups like the College Social- onto the Diag. My friends and I
And you have to admire the dedi- ists and the College Libertarians munched on free Jimmy John's
cation of students braving the existed side-by-side in harmony, sandwiches and actually consid-
rain and soggy sign-up sheets no treading on anyone. ered going to the Notre Dame pep@
to promote their club or cause. And as Festifall participants rally. I think my heart grew three
Plus, the camaraderie created by and their devotees started to sizes larger that day. Sorry for
such an atmosphere meant that pack up, the sun finally streamed ever doubting you, Festifall.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail could keep away the freshmen ... at least, not rain.


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