Monthly Archives: November 2014

Helicon Art Exhibit

The books that sit on our proverbial nightstands seem to leer at us and constantly remind us that we should read them, eventually. Or have I just had too much coffee? Anyway, here’s an obvious statement: It’s hard to read for leisure as a student. It’s also hard to read for leisure as a “young person” generally; millions of things seem to be competing for our attention as we try to learn how to prioritize and multitask. We’re on our phones, running from one place to another. Maybe we’re even running into each other. Amidst the chaos, I often find myself worryingly thinking about all the books that I’m missing out on, all the issues I’m not aware of, and all the conversations I can’t be apart of as a result of not having the time to read certain books.

Here’s another obvious statement: It’s also hard to see art as a student. There’s as much visual art out there as there are books. We know it’s out there, and we know we should see it, eventually. But seeing art, like reading, takes effort. It also requires you to put down your binders, your notebooks, your cell phone, your trombone, and whatever else you might have in your hands, so that you can really see what’s in front of you. I did this on Friday to see the “Luminosity” exhibition sponsored by the undergraduate organization Helicon. In short, the experience amazed me. I was amazed by the work of my peers and by the atmosphere of everyone appreciating the work around them. It also expanded my horizons on the meanings and interpretations of the theme of “luminosity.”

So sure, we all have our own stacks of books waiting to be read and we have all made mental notes to read more often. When I left the exhibition, however, I made a different kind of mental note: Go to more art exhibitions. You might argue that if you can view so much art on the internet, why bother seeing it in person? But it’s worth it to actually seeing art in person. Art, realistically, connotes many different things, but most of all it connotes tangible and material objects, and experiencing the tangibleness and the materialness of the art means that you should probably be in the same room as it. Also, many artists, and especially fledgling artists, may not have websites or even have their work on the internet at all.

I’ll end with this statement, which is perhaps depressing but which is also most likely true: Realistically, when we graduate we probably won’t magically have all the time in the world to read and to see art. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we can always count on full schedules and hectic lives. I just know that for me, and probably for many of you, reading and seeing art will make it a whole lot more enjoyable and meaningful, not to mention expand our minds.

Here are some upcoming exhibitions in Ann Arbor:

WSG Gallery

“WSG Holiday Show”

December 2, 2014- January 3, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, December 5, 7pm

Ann Arbor Art Center

“A Celebration of Local Architecture and Design”

November 21, 2014- December 7, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, November 21, 6pm

“Art Off the Wall”

December 12, 2014- January 4th, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, December 12, 6pm

“Allegorical Space”

January 9, 2015- February 22, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, January 9, 6pm

Ann Arbor District Library Downtown

“Ann Arbor Women Artists”

Now through November 24, 2014

“Seemingly Unrelated: Paintings by the Saline Painters Guild”

December 2, 2014- January 14, 2015

“New Prints from the AADL Collection”

December 2, 2014- January 14, 2015

 

–Kara Krause, Senior, English Major, Xylem Submissions Chair

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Storytelling

As an English major, I am lucky that most of my classes require me to read really good books. A few weeks before this semester, I stumbled upon a class called “Memoir and Social Crisis.” The professor was well liked and it fit into my schedule, so I enrolled. As the weeks go by, the assigned texts have become permanently stacked on my nightstand and I find myself staying up late into the night because I simply can’t stop reading. What I’ve discovered is that I personally cannot get enough of memoirs because to me, they are the lifeblood of literature.

If there were one memoir I would recommend to anyone, it would be “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. According to the author, this work is fiction, but that in no way discredits the reasons why I love it so much or why I think everyone should read it. “The Things They Carried” is a book that most students have encountered in a high school English class. Because it’s about O’Brien’s experience serving in the Vietnam War, the book is heavy (almost painfully) and not for people looking for a neat, fast-paced plot or steamy romance story. In high school, I can shamefully admit that I remember using SparkNotes to know enough of the plot to pass weekly quizzes. That was that. I never even opened it.

I read “The Things They Carried” over the summer during a six-week program called the New England Literature Program. It was a book that I chose to read in addition to assigned texts like Emily Dickinson or Thoreau, and I can honestly say that late in the night I could be found in my sleeping bag, headlight dimmed low, reading “The Things They Carried.” I kept thinking how much of a fool I was for not reading the book back in high school. At the same time, I wasn’t ready for it. During NELP, my boyfriend was serving his second tour in Afghanistan. As I was studying classic New England Literature in the middle of the woods, he was fighting in a war. The book was something that I carried in my own backpack, up into the White Mountains of New Hampshire, to Acadia National Park in Maine, and along the shores of Lake Winnipesauke. Because I knew nothing about the war my boyfriend was fighting, I turned to O’Brien and learned about his. I read about soldiers, their hopes and moments of courage, their cruelty. I positioned myself so O’Brien was talking to me, telling me how war is hell and there is no moral, so stop looking for one.

I cannot put to words what “The Things They Carried” has meant to me over the past year. Re-reading it for “Memoir and Social Crisis” has proved to be equally as rewarding as it was at NELP, even though my boyfriend is back in the U.S. and I’m no longer out in the woods. The lessons have stayed. Even if my own circumstances have caused me to place this book in my permanent “back pocket,” everyone who writes should read this book. O’Brien wrote to save others and to save himself. I write to navigate the complexity of college, to keep my head from going under. When college is over, what will remain will be what was written. Everyday that motivated me to put my stories on paper. That way, other people can carry them with me.

–Hannah Bates, Junior, English major, Xylem Editing chair

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