Pop-up art exhibit uses past to examine U-M’s future

March 29, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Exploring the future aspirations of the U-M community means also understanding challenges from U-M’s past.

Some of these moments will be featured the week of April 3-8 with “Stumbling Blocks,” a series of pop-up art installations planned for Central and North campuses. The exhibit is timed to coincide with the U-M Bicentennial Spring Festival.

Seven installations will draw attention to chapters from U-M’s history: the Native American land gift of 1817; diversity of the student body; the role of women; nuclear research; student protest; biomedical research in a global context; and the role of staff.

The displays will be prominent and provocative — asking everyone at the university to redefine the community, recalibrate goals, and set out new aspirations that are informed by the past.

Stumbling Blocks has three goals. First is the need to bring the bicentennial to everyday campus life. Rather than wait for community members to enter auditoriums, seminars rooms or lecture halls, Stumbling Blocks brings questions about the future to public spaces. There, muted chapters in U-M’s history become more visible.

Second is conveying a sense of the university’s robust capacity as a community to examine and learn from difficult chapters from the past.

Third, Stumbling Blocks reflects upon U-M’s contribution to national debates about how colleges and universities should approach the marking of history and tributes to past leaders. On some campuses, this has led to protracted debate and unrest. Here, U-M has the opportunity to open up and invite that debate through creative work.

Here are the seven installations and where you can find them:

  • Native Americans: Michigan’s Foundation: A reinstallation of the existing Native American land gift marker on Ingalls Mall, adjacent to the original
  • Remembering Students Missing After Proposal 2: 950 maize and blue chairs on the Diag and Ingalls Mall
  • Equity for Women and Gender on Campus: A ticker tape scrolling across screens mounted above the entrance to the Michigan Union
  • Remaking Nuclear Research: The front section of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project will be wrapped in a banner reflecting the atomic energy symbol and Earth
  • Student Protest: Historical images of student protests will be projected from the Bentley Library onto the facade of Angell Hall from dusk until dawn
  • New Approaches to the Ethics of Biomedical Research: Two flagpoles will be installed in Kresge Park. One will have the Block M, the other will display a symbol of the university’s research partner, Brazil
  • Quantifying the Role of Staff: A new building sign reading “The 33,616 Staff Building” will be installed next to the existing Fleming Administration Building sign, reflecting the number of staff members at the university.

For more information on upcoming bicentennial events, click here.


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