University of Michigan graduates, students and commencement visitors had the opportunity to take pictures on top of a ground-based anamorphic 3D painting on the Diag on Saturday.
Titled “Michigan Reflections,” the temporary art installation was commissioned as the annual commencement engagement project by U-M Social, the office in charge of handling the University’s social media accounts. In an announcement by the Office of the Vice President for Communications, University Director of Social Media Nikki Sunstrum explained the project aims to inspire graduates to engage in responsible digital citizenship.
“While this year’s installation offers yet another fun, engaging photo opportunity for our students and their families, it is also intended to inspire reflection, both upon their years at the University of Michigan — including what they post online, and what their future impact will be as a graduate of our institution,” Sunstrum wrote. “This messaging is consistent with our ongoing social integrity campaign that promotes online authenticity and digital citizenship, especially in an age when fake news and digital harassment penetrate our social networks and online interactions.”
According to the announcement, the 16’ x 13’ painting features reflections of several University landmarks, like Burton Tower, Rackham Auditorium and the Law Library, in the waters of the Huron River.
“A waterfall forms at the water’s edge, emptying into a 3D ‘Block M’ situated above an aerial view of Michigan Stadium,” the announcement said. “If passersby pose just right, they can appear to be part of the artwork, standing on grass or rocks to avoid ‘falling’ into the water.”
The painting was created by local artists Dave and Shelley Brenner. Shelley Brenner is also an alum of the University, holding two bachelor’s degrees from the University’s Ann Arbor campus and a master’s degree from U-M Flint. Dave Brenner has been the Creative Director of the School of Environment and Sustainability since 2008.
Dave Brenner expressed in the announcement they hope to reflect both the spirit of the University and the natural beauty of the campus in the artwork.
“One of the things that I love about Ann Arbor is the nature aspect,” he said. “I wanted to create a piece that reflected U-M, but also the natural beauty that surrounds the campus. The image of the stadium is emblematic of the university’s energy and team spirit, and the Huron River reflects the delicate balance between the built environment and that of nature.”
MaryCarol Hunter, associate professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability, helped the Brenners choose 19 flowers native to Michigan that bloom in May for the painting. These 19 flowers, positioned around the Big House, represent the University’s 19 schools and colleges, the announcement explained.