The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 3B
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, September19, 2013 - 3B
Tree Town grows with
new art installation
chosen to spearhead
latest AAPC project
By ANNA SADOVSKAYA
Naturally garnished with big
burrs and ornamental oaks, Ann
Arbor's "Tree Town" nickname
is appropriate, given the nearly
50,000 trees lining its streets.
Struck by the vast presence of
mature trees within Nichols Arbo-
retum and throughout the rest of
Ann Arbor, artist Catherine Widg-
ery designed an art installation set
to decorate the East Stadium Bou-
levard bridges and underpass.
The search for an artist was
conducted through the Ann Arbor
Public Arts Committee, which
sanctioned a set budget for the
"Usually what happens is (the
committee) sends out a call to art-
ists when we have a project idea or
alocation in which the commission
has selected to put an art project
in," said Public Art Administra-
tor Aaron Seagraves. "We review
them based on the criteria of the
project goals, evaluate the artists
based on qualifications."
From there, three or four art-
ists' concept designs are chosen
as finalists and after interviews
and closer inspections of design
attributes, one artist is selected.
The committee, made up of stake-
holders and community members,
elected Massachusetts designer
Catherine Widgery to undertake
"I think with this particular
proposal, it used a lot of the area
that we were hoping to place art-
work in," Seagraves said. "The
theme of using imagery of trees
and placing them in a transpar-
ent background, on glass, using
acrylic, so it's see-through, I
think it was the theme that really
Having completed close to 40
public art installations across the
United States and Canada, Wid-
gery is no newcomer to the art
scene. Her interest in environ-
mental sculptures and infusing
nature into art led her to a career
involving public installations.
"Public art puts art in the pub-
lic spaces and in an environment
where it's not a museum," Sea-
graves said. "It can be enjoyed
by a lot more people, viewed by
a wider audience. What I think
public art does, when it's really
successful, is identify a particu-
lar spot or area, and lends an
identity to an area."
Along with lending an iden-
tity, public art creates a common
culture for the community and
distinguishes a city from others.
The Rock, on the corner of Hill
Street and Washtenaw Avenue,
is a notable Ann Arbor landmark
that unites the city's inhabitants
through a paint-based tradition.
"It's not public art in the sense
that it's an art sculpture, but it's a
participatory type of art project,"
Though arts funding has
been kept up in Ann Arbor, many
municipalities and institutions in
the United States have seen cuts
and decreases in their resources.
But Widgery calls to mind success-
ful art installations that gave pur-
pose and notability to an area, like
Millenium Park in Chicago.
"I think people underestimate
the financial as well as the aes-
thetic aspect of art," Widgery said.
"I'm a great believer that it really
contributes to the quality of life in
Her own project, "Arbor
Winds," aims to do just that.
Without giving too much away,
Widgery explained that it will be
situated on the East Stadium Bou-
levard bridges and feature tree-
inspired prints on pieces of glass
and a larger, more immersive
installation at the passageway.
"There's the underpass and
then the raised elements that
will be all along the bridge, so
that when people drive over
them there will be colorful
points of animation across the
bridge, and a larger work right
at the entrance," Widgery said.
"It's still in development, but
it's exciting to feel there's this
exchange based on all the public
feedback that there was."
Though the feedback allows
for the project to grow, it also
makes pinning down an exact
design difficult. Widgery
believes it is this aspect of col-
laboration that gives artists
their work edge.
"When you first come to an
idea, it still has the possibility of
evolving into something better,"
Widgery said. "I don't even know
myself how the creative process
works, except that I am very
open; I keep the blinders off."
Too much input could lead to
difficulties for the finished prod-
uct, as taggers and graffiti artists'
input could come in the form of
an art installation of their own
covering the "Arbor Winds." But
Widgery is not afraid of this out-
come - she believes that her art
will coincide with what graffiti
artists are attempting to do.
"The community has to
embrace the work, and by involv-
ing the public in every step of the
progress, there's a sense of own-
ership. Art should be considered
like everything else: It needs care
and some maintenance," Widg-
ery said. "(Graffiti artists) respect
fellow artists' work."
Despite having visited Ann
Arbor only twice, Widgery seems
to have a grasp of the city's feel.
Though local artists were also
considered for the project, ulti-
mately Widgery believes that
her outside perspective can add
"I try to come to a place with
no preconceptions. I don't come
with any visual ideas in mind,"
Widgery said. "I've been back
now twice (to Ann Arbor), two
different visits. There's a lot
of physical beauty because of
the trees and the nature every-
where, and I think that it has
a youthful energy that people
respond to. My use of the imag-
ery of wind in relation to the
energy of trees has the embodi-
ment of that intangible, but pres-
ent, energy in the town."
s I contemplate the based on the number of"friends"
themes I want to explore theyhave.
this year with my health But if we're spending so much
ness column, I've decided time building our online social net-
a new approach to the workand caring about our collec-
t of tionofdigital connections, arewe
h" and then sacrificing our efforts to form,
more strengthen and maintainlegitimate
itlyon relationships?Ivalueand derive
ntal far more esteem from an enjoyable
- conversation in person at a coffee
going shop than froma Facebook chat
de sessionwhilesittingathome onmy
pivotal CARLY couch. Let's not fool ourselves; the
dictat- KEYES latter scenario still demonstrates
at's isolative behavior.And nomat-
ning ter how many Facebook friends
outside. At least, I know it I have, ifI'mnot participatingin
r me. my life outsidethe cyber world, I'd
s week, I want to talk about become depressed.
logy. More specifically, I Playing devil's advocate, I'llpose
o talk about social network- that it's not the vehicle that births
ventions ostensibly provide theconsequences,it'showaperson
al number of benefits and uses it: Gunsadon't kill people, peo-
ents: The movie camera ple kill people; junk food is never
tionized the entertainment forced downourthroats,etc. The
ry and provides millions of key for me is to "Facebook respon-
d opportunities for artistic sibly." I needtorecognizewhenit's
sion, but it also encourages appropriate to pay attention to my
ntary lifestyle. The car, the phone and when it's important to
the train ... these allowed pay attention to mycompany.
pansion of our country and Atthe end ofthis pastasummer,
s get from place to place to I went up north with my family
r loved ones, do business to fill my tank with as much R&R
cation. But the widespread asspossible before the semester
d heavy reliance on these kicked off, and we stayed at a beau-
ds of transportation is now tiful cabin on the water. My main
our environment. concern: Is there Wi-Fi? I couldn't
ial networking offers a notrtake my laptop. I didn't have
rbenefit in that it's created homeworktodo,obviously.,ididn't
ustry and helps us stay con- have a specific reason for bringing
to individuals across the it other than the fact that, without
with the click of a mouse; my laptop, a device Iuse every
re just a few of the posi- day, I feel... odd. That experience
lut in a recent study on the forced me to evaluate my behavior,
nship between Facebook butI didn't feel inclined to change
pression, it appears that it quite yet.
stime can foster a severe As soon as I admitted that
vc impact on our mental tehnology possesses some level
happening. Recently, avideo went
viral called, "IForgot My Phone,"
Live in the which depicts personal scenarios
where the need to "capture the
moment. moment"on a phone prevents
*individuals from capturing the
moment inherently, andI found
myself saying, "Yup, I do that, too."
May2013 studytitled, "Is At ascomedy showI attended
ok creating'iDisorders?,' at DTE Energy Music Theatre,
ornia State University despite the fact that copious
chers tested whether the signs stated, "No photography,"
pecific technologies or I instinctively whipped out my
(including certain types of phone to film segments from
ok use) would predict clini- our sixth-row, center seats - not
nptoms ofsix personality because I wanted to relive the
ers (schizoid, narcissistic, experience later, but because I
ial, compulsive, paranoid wanted to show off the killer view
strionic) and three mood to my friends who were sitting on
ers (major depression, dys- the lawn in cheap seats.
iand bipolar-mania). But the clincher occurred last
ns, young adults and adults Friday when I went to seeYellow-
ted an anonymous, online card, one of my favorite bands of
innaire that addressed these all-time. At the start of the show,
ns. Based on their testimo- the lead singer made a serious
searchers found that simply announcement: "Take all your
mber of friends had bya pictures and videos, and send
ok user has a significant your tweets now, because I do not
on mental health. Having want to be looking atcthe backs of
'acebook friends predicted your phones the entire night."
linical symptoms of bipolar- I put my phone in my pocket,
,narcissism and histrionic and from now on, I'mleaving it in
ality disorderbut fewer mycar.
IT'S PILOT SEASON! APPLY TO
THE DAILY ARTS TV BEAT.
ly.Com to request
oms of dysthymia and schiz-
sonalitydisorder. In simpler
cillate fromhigh to low
Keyes is going phoneless.
To suppoert her, e-mail
' SINGLE REVIEW
Thump, thump, thump. The
club-banger brews its beat,
melting all genre-ambiguity
and gentle- A-
men, Britney -
Spears has Work Bitch
another Britney Spears
dance track ve
Bitch" builds progressively
while straying from excess.
The beat is mighty, yet built
over a single, dominant kick.
The synth is single-layered
and dirty, but nothing short of
an adrenaline rush.
The pop princess also car-
ries some "Scream and Shout"
aftershock. The recent #will- Despite will.i.am's posi- for a fresh, contemporary
power collaboration, and this tion as executive producer for accent to his production, mak-
debut track from Spears's Spears's new record, "Work ing him the foremost choice
eighth studio album, suggests Bitch" is said to be the only for the cutting-edge trendset-
some curious new trends for track on the album that he will ter that Spears has proven to
Brit - specifically that she pointedly produce. The former be.
still sounds like a Brit. Black Eyed Peas rapper strives -GREGORYHICKS