december 2016 newsletter
This semester is about to end and it's crazy how time flies. Living Arts, the incubator for creative pursuits, has become even more diverse and active due to this year's growth of first year students.
This newsletter will recap some of the exciting activities we’ve had in the past few months— The events and workshops organized by our students have inspired everyone to experience cross - disciplinary collaboration, while exploring their own creative process.
I hope everyone enjoyed the time spent with us this semester, and that you have had a wonderful transition from high school to college through this living - learning community. See you next semester when everything is going to be even more hyped up!
Have a great winter break!
Important Community Dates
All-Community Meetings 2016
During the All-community meeting in November, Instructor Leith Campbell, pursuing an MA in Media Arts, inspired students to integrate art and technology by challenging them to experiment with time-based media using Arduinos and LED lights. Students were encouraged to find new ways of using materials such as cardboard, hand mirrors, and wine glasses to project different patterns on to the wall while learning how to edit Arduino code. This experimentation led to some amazing light effects with fabulous colors. One group created a puppet show by playing around with shadows and light effects, while others tried to integrate music in their experimentation. The different backgrounds and knowledge of the Living arts students allowed them to realize the wonderful ways their different disciplinary studies can create connections. The result was enough to elevate their creative practices to a whole new level.
The All-community meeting in December was the last Living Arts workshop for the 2016 fall semester. Planned and organized by Living Arts Resident Advisors (RA) Erica Gavan, Adam Licavoli, and Socrates Papageorgiou, the All-community meeting, themed “Creativity Telephone”, inspired students to realize a transformation through interdisciplinary creativity. During the meeting, an unfamiliar picture was given to each group, and the students were required to manipulate the picture using Photoshop or other software. The manipulated picture was then passed on to the next group. Being completely oblivious about what the original picture was, each group then created a sound file that best represented the manipulated picture. The sound file was then passed to the next group where students were told to write a poem or a creative writing segment for the sound file. The final section of the workshop required each group to make a video based on the poem that was passed down by the previous group. The “Creativity Telephone” project introduced the very concept of collaboration and creativity. It encouraged students to explore the many forms of creativity needed to relay an idea or a concept while building a team spirit between peers. Students indulged their wildest imagination during the process to create photos, songs, poems, and videos that were uniquely creative and interesting.
In addition, we have also started our first live stream on Facebook. Click here and take a look!
Friends giving, organized voluntarily by our first year students right after the Thanksgiving break, was a celebration of friends, food, and other things we can be thankful for. Students who returned from home gathered to spend quality time with their Living Arts family on campus to enjoy delicious food. Raymond Surya who organized this event believed that “Friends Giving would be a success even if just one friend comes”. The goal of the event is to hang out with different people in Living Arts who have not been able to get involved in daily Living Arts socials down in the Creative Lounge.
On Monday, December 5th, a few Living Arts students toured the new Ann Arbor Google office. The students toured the technical, sales, and services departments and saw a glimpse of the unique company culture for which Google is known. It was fascinating to see a creative physical space that mirrors Google’s values of collaboration and teamwork. A major takeaway from the tour was how easy and valuable it is to work across departments in order to learn new perspectives and find creative solutions- very similar to the mission of Living Arts! It was an unforgettable experience that we hope to do again for the future.
2016 Living Arts Bursley Art Competition
The first annual, Bursley-wide art competition hosted by Living Arts with the goal of creating a friendly, competitive environment for various artists within Bursley Hall, to strengthen their portfolios and gain feedback on their current skill set, while also fostering a stronger connection between the local learning community and the residents of the building. The theme for the first Living Arts- Bursley art competition this semester is “Unseen”. Students were encouraged to interpret the theme in different ways, and the submissions were graded on creativity, artistry and communication of concepts. Three winners: Willa Huang, Living Arts; Yangtian Yan, Living Arts; and Natalia Ipince, a non- Living Arts student, were selected to display their artworks permanently in the residential hall. Peer mentor as well as the President of the Bursley Hall Council, Jake Phillips, who proposed and coordinated the competition said that he was "glad to see Living Arts interacting with the bigger community". To compliment his statement, Natalia Ipince, a non-Living Arts student, also expressed her appreciation for this event: “[The competition] provides an opportunity to all students in Bursley Hall to create artworks, regardless what their majors are. As an architecture student, it feels great to explore conceptual ideas and to create fine arts once in a while. The competition also helps build the connection within the community where people [enjoy being] friends with the artists.” The first Living Arts- Bursley competition has spread the ideology of Living Arts and creativity to the bigger community, and we hope to continue organizing such events in the future to influence more people.
Living Arts Spotlights
Living Arts Mentee
As a first- year Living Arts student from Central Ohio, Sylvia Sinsabaugh is thrilled to explore multidisciplinary approaches while pursuing mechanical engineering as a major and art as a minor at University of Michigan. She believes that Living Arts is the perfect place for students to step outside of the box and to understand their own exploratory process that leads to creativity. “I cannot imagine where I will be in college without Living Arts. Living Arts is the family I’ve built. Everyone in Living Arts is incredibly talented in so many different ways that you don’t realize when you first met them.” She explained how an engineering student from Living Arts could also be really good at singing and drawing, and an art student could be very knowledgeable in programing. She felt like her boundaries have been pushed to another level, where she was encouraged to open herself and try new things.
For example, the Movement workshop at the beginning of the semester has become one of her favorites because the students were encouraged to move their bodies to express ideas that she had never thought that she could convey through body gestures as an engineering student. “I am glad that I decided to join Living Arts… [It provides a] great opportunity for students to broaden horizons and enhance collaboration with other people.” Sylvia hopes to study 3D modeling in the future and become a product designer who combines both arts and engineering within a project. She is excited about her next semester in Living Arts, and will hopefully return as a peer mentor for the second year.
Graduate Student Intern
Born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, Kelly Wright received a BA in English Education from Purdue University. She is currently a second year master’s student in U of M’s higher Education Administration program, concentrating on student’s access and success. She is interested in student’s higher education including the reasons for students’ college decisions as well as the support system that is in place in college. Kelly has been working in the Living Arts office as a graduate student intern since the beginning of the last school year, and this is the last semester for her to study at Michigan. By utilizing what she has learned in class about how to design a learning community, Kelly has improved the Living Arts mentorship program and helped students develop team-working as well as leadership. She has led several workshops and fun activities that tailored to the very essence of Living Arts with the peer mentors to spread awareness of interaction with people. Peer mentors who have built connections with Kelly feel comfortable to open up their minds, and share goals, interests as well as challenges they have faced during the peer mentor meetings. Meanwhile, by talking to peer mentors, Kelly has learned a lot about how to facilitate a dialogue or a discussion and even redefined what it is like to be a peer mentor— “it is more about being collaborative, and giving back to the community by building relationships with the first year students”.
Kelly said that while working at Living Arts, her definition of creativity has also changed, and that “it doesn’t have to be the projects that [one does], but more so how [one] can think of creative ways to keep [students with interdisciplinary interests] engaged, and encourage them to become Peer Mentors that are able to lead.” Kelly loves working in a learning community like Living Arts, and hopes to continue to direct community activities like what she has been doing for Living Arts. “I think [joining Living Arts] is such a good way for incoming students to help with transition in college and to make them feel like they belong to this community within this huge university. I also love the interdisciplinary aspects of Living Arts… where students learn from each other in different study fields to become creative and contribute in a unique way doing the first year of college.” We are glad to have Kelly as a student intern working in the office. Living Arts has become more open and active because of her contributions to the Living Arts Peer Mentor program.
Originally from Highland Park, California, Giovanni "Gio" Martinez is a Living Arts alumnus from last year. He is currently studying Architecture at Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning.
1. What does creativity mean to you? How has Living Arts influenced that definition?
“Creativity means making a mark on the world through your unique perspective of it. All our lives, we're educated on the distant past, the recent past, the present - so many images of what's perceived begin to influence us in ways that we may not comprehend at the moment. But ultimately, it's the way you see the world and the way you want to change or progress it that defines your creativity and re-defines others' perception of it. We all have unique backgrounds - no person is the same, so why not use them? Living Arts has influenced my perception of creativity through showing me that there's no one single approach to problem solving. For this very reason, it's important to interweave multiple perspectives and techniques with the goal of defining your personal creative process. Once you define and understand your creative process, you control your creativity and its unraveling.”
2. What advice to you give to either first year or peer mentors currently in Living Arts?
"To all first-year Living Artists, I say enjoy the community and make the most of it while you have the opportunity! Your Peer Mentors have obviously returned to Living Arts because it was the community that helped shaped their experience here at the University of Michigan in a unique way. So have late-night hang-outs in the Creative Suite, explore North + Central Campus...Yes, we're students first, but there's more to education than simply what's taught in the classroom. We also learn by living and meeting people, by traveling and gaining insight into different cultures. So create an experience that you'll hold dear to yourself for years to come because time passes quickly and you can never get it back."