From vibrant kaleidoscopic botanicals to artistic activism about the war in Ukraine and critical water issues facing the Great Lakes region, the University of Michigan’s campus is now home to plenty of new and exciting art exhibits.
The Michigan Daily spoke to several members of the art community on campus about three unique temporary exhibits on display in Ann Arbor.
In “Inspired by Nature,” artist Hava Gurevich uses striking colors, abstract shapes and intricate patterns in her acrylic paintings to bring botanical forms to life. Gurevich, who graduated from the School of Art & Design in 1990 and is now a professional artist, spoke to The Daily about the exhibition. Having been on display since the beginning of July, it is now nearing the end of its run.
Gurevich said she sees her work as a combination of art and science.
“My colorful abstractions feature botanical, aquatic and microscopic motifs,” Gurevich said. “Blending images from the real world and imagination, my art celebrates nature in all its beauty and complexity.”
Gurevich’s canvases portray dynamic flora and fauna. In one of her paintings, “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” vivid honeycombs and spirals twist around bees. Those same shapes can be found in her more aquatic paintings, such as “Cambrian Explosion,” where long chartreuse tendrils twist around jellyfish-like entities on the cerulean canvas.
A lover of living sciences and biology, Gurevich said her inspiration stems from the way different parts of the natural world are inherently connected. In all her works, Gurevich explores the patterns she observes in nature, bringing them to life in abstract, psychedelic ways.
As a U-M alum, being recognized by the University for her professional art career is especially meaningful to Gurevich.
“It’s a way to see everything (come) full circle,” Gurevich said. “It does feel a little bit like a homecoming.”
To view Gurevich’s art in person, visitors can view the exhibit at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens until September 11. She said the location complements the art — rather than a gallery, the Botanical Gardens provide a place for her pieces to exist alongside nature itself.
“If you’re drawn to the Botanical Gardens, then my work will speak to you,” Gurevich said. “And if you’ve never been to the Botanical Gardens, coming to see my exhibition might be a great opportunity to get to know this gem we have on campus.”
“I have a crisis for you”: Women Artists of Ukraine Respond to War — on display at the Lane Hall Exhibit Space through December 16
Grace Mahoney, Rackham student and Ph.D. candidate in the department of Slavic Languages and Literature, curated the exhibit alongside Dr. Jessica Zychowicz, Ph.D., head of the U.S. Fulbright Program in Ukraine.
“I have a crisis for you” features art created by female artists of Ukraine during the ongoing war with Russia. It is sponsored by several departments within the University, primarily the LSA Women’s and Gender Studies department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG).
Mahoney said she and Zychowicz wanted to bring the work of women artists of Ukraine to Ann Arbor to provide them with an international voice.
“The main idea is to give women artists of Ukraine a platform to share the work they’ve made in response to the war that’s happening in Ukraine right now,” Mahoney said. “We are especially interested in framing (the exhibit) through the lens of gender and their perspectives specifically as women.”
Works featured in the exhibit utilize a variety of mediums to deliver their message. Drawings by Ukrainian artist Kinder Album depict Ukrainian women resisting warfare and citizens undergoing evacuation. Visual artist and curator Oksana Briukhovetska works with textiles, expressing her grief through war rugs that contrast floral patterns with illustrations of cemeteries. The title of the exhibit, “I have a crisis for you,” was inspired by the name of a poem written by contributing poet and documentarian Lyuba Yakimchuk, whose work expresses the emotional complexity that comes with life-altering experiences such as war.
The exhibit is open to the public and aims to make the Ukrainian crisis more tangible, especially for those who have heard about it only in the media and have not been directly impacted. According to the IRWG website, the featured artists were selected because of their prominent exploration of gender issues in their works.
“For the average visitor, Ukraine seems very far away,” Mahoney said. “The idea is to help (visitors) connect and see how critical and devastating this war is … and (to) tell stories that aren’t in the forefront of people’s minds.”
While the exhibit is already on display at the Lane Hall Exhibit Gallery, there will be an opening reception for the exhibit with comments by the curators on September 15. The next day, several of the artists themselves will speak on Zoom at an artists’ roundtable. Both events are open to all members of the U-M community.
Watershed — on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) through October 23
According to the UMMA website, “Watershed” explores the interrelated past, present and future of the Great Lakes region. Jennifer Friess, the associate curator of photography at the UMMA, curated the exhibit, which started its run in one of their rotating exhibit spaces in June. Friess said the goal of the exhibit is to use art to convey the interconnection of the Great Lakes region while contributing to discourse surrounding critical issues in the area.
“The watershed doesn’t obey boundaries — it infiltrates all aspects of life throughout the region,” Friess said.
The exhibit provides an immersive glimpse into the history of the region. Michael Belmore’s sculpture sits centered in the gallery and connects the value of copper and stone in native cultures with contemporary life. “The Gift,” an eye-catching mural by artist Bonnie Devine, was painted directly onto the gallery wall and explores the history of colonial expansion across the Great Lakes region. A time-lapse video of Devine painting the mural lets viewers watch the piece take shape. Friess said many of the works express issues regarding Indigenous displacement, water rights, access to clean water and more that connect ancient artifacts to modern day lived experiences .
“To see the works in person and really be immersed in their textures and colors, you’re just getting so many different perspectives on these issues,” Friess said.
The exhibit features six new works commissioned by the UMMA specifically for “Watershed.”The commissioned works were crafted by different artists, ranging from paintings and sculptures to videos and prints. Friess said the exhibit also features works by several other contemporary artists which she believes makes the exhibit a timely response to issues involving water quality and water security in and around the Great Lakes.
Friess said this is an exhibit everyone can connect to and she encourages anyone who is interested to stop by the museum and immerse themselves in the art.
“No matter where you’re from, you come away from the show having a sense of awareness of water and your relationship to it,” said Friess, “Water is a core element that brings us all together.”
Daily Staff Reporter Natalie Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.