UMMA Art In Your Inbox - Archive

Works of art featured in past editions of UMMA's email series Art In Your inbox

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Black and white image of a child looking out a window with white wings superimposed on her back and a white insect watching her. 
Joanne Leonard
Winged Ones
gelatin silver print on paper
20 x 23 3/4 in. (50.8 x 60.33 cm)
Gift of the artist
A color photograph of a group of children and a cat at a table. Each child engages with something in the room, which is in an organized disarray. Egg shells fall from the table to the floor, toys are strewn about, and an infant and cat sit in the middle of the table.
Julie Blackmon
Birds at Home
inkjet pigment print paper
22 in x 22 in (55.88 cm x 55.88 cm)
Gift from the Collection of David S. Rosen MD, MPH

False Narrative

Alvin Smith, 2019

Acrylic, Dimensions: 31.5in X 42.5in

Artist statement: “When I’m moved to create a piece, I find that listening to that inner voice always leads to something creative, fun, and sometimes challenging for viewers. But I’m always true to my own vision.” - Alvin Smith

Smith, who is currently incarcerated, has been a practicing artist for many years. As a boy, his father encouraged him to be creative, tinkering with bicycle parts and other ordinary things to come up with personalized objects. His father’s help inspired him to mentor young men in prison. His own body of work is varied, and he often calls attention to the history of structural racism in the United States, using inventive metaphors and images from popular culture, presented from his unique point of view.

Reflection Prompts:
How does Smith play with the unexpected, leaving the viewer to question what they’re seeing in the painting?
What narratives about present-day American racism does Smith seem to be responding to and critiquing?

This mixed media collage consists of a long skein of yarn of varying colors attached at point A at the top of the print, creating a jumbled mass of yarn below and exiting at point C, also at the top of the canvas.
Buky Schwartz
Line A-C
mixed media, wool on canvas
28 1/4 in x 20 1/4 in (71.76 cm x 51.44 cm)
Gift in honor of Dr. E. Bryce and Harriet Alpern, by their children
This collage depicts the torso and head of a figure consuming the majority of the composition. The left, handless, arm is raised up at a 90 degree angle in salute. The skin and hair is green, eyes are large white circles with small pupils, and the mouth is a white oval. The black and grey background has a pattern of elaborate floral wallpaper and the figures clothing, resembling a military uniform, is made of colorful splotches with a row of medals across the chest. 
Enrico Baj
mixed media
4 ft. 3 3/8 in. x 38 1/4 in. (130.4 x 97.1 cm);4 ft. 3 13/16 in. x 38 13/16 in. x 1 5/16 in. (131.45 x 98.43 x 3.18 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Gosman

Moonlit Two-step
Alan Compo
2019, acrylic

Artist statement:
“Most days I feel lost in this transition of self-correction. Feelings that pour out puddles of thick paint on canvas touching dry anxious days. Thoughts found swooshing graphite across paper, pushing light into dark, sounds of shading stumps and fingers sliding back and forth, forth and back….Meditation, prayers...escape. Dreams and 13-year-old memories mixing with the taste of tingy eraser tops of bristles of brushes rinsed almost clean in tinted cloudy water. Looking for forgiveness...finding art...sometimes. Lost in the smells of old paint kept moist on a lid with a wet paper towel, of new paper, of pencil shavings...wondering what ifs, if onlys, and I can’t wait! With an emotion that occasionally showed its face on paper or canvas where others may see my feelings of self-correction while lost in transition…” – Alan Compo
Alan Compo returned home in 2018 and has been continuing his art practice full time. While incarcerated, he gained a deeper connection to his Native identity, and his paintings are often tributes to the Anishinaabe people and elements of Native culture.

Reflection Prompts:
How does Compo use geometric stylistic choices to tell a story about the interconnectedness of its figures?
Does Compo’s painting make you think of an image that represents your heritage? What similarities exist between that image and Compo’s?

Artist Unknown
Three Women and One Man
photograph on paper
3 1/2 in. x 2 5/8 in. ( 8.89 cm x 6.67 cm )
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis
A still life of a vase of peonies. The image is tightly cropped and droplets of water are visible on the petals of the flowers. 
John Dugdale
Cornwall Peonies
albumen silver print on paper
15 15/16 in x 13 1/2 in (40.48 cm x 34.29 cm);16 in x 13 7/16 in x 1 3/8 in (40.64 cm x 34.13 cm x 3.49 cm)
Museum Purchase made possible by the Harry Denham Trust
A black and white photograph of masked, helmeted, armed troops, several of whom grab a person and lift him from the ground, his shirt pulled up over his head. An officer, hat off and held, looks out toward the viewer. Several look towards the conflict from the foreground.
Danny Lyon
Clifford Vaughs, another SNCC photographer, is arrested by the National Guard
gelatin silver print on paper
11 in x 14 in (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm);8 ¾ in x 12 ⅞ in (22.23 cm x 32.7 cm)
Gift of Thomas Wilson '79 and Jill Garling '80

Samantha Bachynski
Crocheted Motorcycle
yarn, acrylic
Media Source: Local file upload
All Rights Reserved

Artist statement:
“At this point in my life, my artwork gives me something I can be proud of. I have developed a bit of a reputation as, 'The Crochet Lady.' I intend to challenge myself each year to live up to that reputation. I also paint and with each painting, I grow. I create something new and different. There is not much that I can say I am proud of in my life outside of what I have accomplished with both performance and material art. I have accomplished so much and have grown in many ways through art. Not only am I proud of myself, I know others are proud of me as well, and that adds so much meaning to my life. Without art, I would be lost.” – Samantha Bachyski

Samantha Bachynski is a long-time participant in PCAP’s Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. In addition to crocheting, Bachynski spent much time researching each of the motorcycle’s constitutive parts to better her work, using books and magazines to learn about the bike’s structure. In order to assemble this large piece, she crocheted each part of the motorcycle separately and then sewed the pieces together.

Reflection Prompts:
Crochet is often thought of as women’s work and motorcycles as a more masculine hobby. How does artist Samantha Bachynski challenge our expectations, bringing together the masculine and the feminine in her crocheted motorcycle?
How might you use research at home to improve your creative practice?

This woodblock print depicts a man in trousers and a jacket compacted into the space of the print. The man is kneeling on his left knee while his right foot is raised and pushed up against a surface on the left of the image. Both of his arms are raised, with the left jutting out towards the viewer and the palm of his hand is fully visible. The numbered and print is signed (l.c.) "3 Pepe Ortega" in pencil.
José Ortega
El bache
woodblock print on paper
7 1/8 in x 5 1/8 in (18.1 cm x 13.02 cm)
Museum Purchase

Susan Brown
2020, beadwork, dimensions: 21in x 26in x 12in

Artist statement
Susan Brown’s statement is written in response to her selection as part of the Prison Creative Art Project’s 25th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners (postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“This is my 17th year incarcerated. Until I can physically be free I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to express my personal freedom of art with all of you. Each piece that gets selected for the U of M art show gives me hope that someone will be touched by my creations. This is the 25th exhibit for PCAP, and I hope my work represents just how honored I am to be a participant. To my beautiful children; it is an honor to be a part of your lives. I love you so very much!”
– Susan Brown
Over the course of six months’ time, some of which she spent in segregation, Susan Brown created Redeemed. The armature and structure are constructed out of toilet paper and glue, common materials for incarcerated artists to work with. Brown placed each of the work’s 347,929 beads individually. She originally began honing her craft with two-dimensional, small-scale, intricate beadwork, and then began creating more structural pieces like this one. Of its significance, Brown says, “This piece started out as a symbolic reference to how often society discards things by removing life, as it does with deer that are taken and hunted for sport or pleasure, and how often individuals are taken or removed, whether by their own actions or others’, from society by harsh sentencing. Both are discarded, and the numbers of each, each year, are greatly increasing with little or no positive change. I have been blessed to create this piece. It was above and beyond my wildest dreams.”
Reflection Prompts:
How might we view each bead as a comment on the importance of acting and creating with intention?
Have you ever thought about things or people who are unnecessarily discarded? How might you bring attention to them, as Brown did?
Notice how Brown brought out the symmetry of the Buck with her colorful designs. What else if nature and in our built environment is symmetrical. How could you enhance its beauty with your own design?


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Last Updated

January 14, 2021 3:37 p.m.


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