The University of Michigan Museum of Art The University of Michigan Museum of Art
Ann Arbor, MI
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The University of Michigan Museum of Art
525 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1354
telephone: 734.764.0395
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Behind the Walls

Curriculum / Collection

Pan-African Pulp: A Commission by Meleko Mokgosi


Behind the Walls

Artist: Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa, Behind the Walls, 2018, Polyester resin and marble dust, 750 x 278 x 310 cm. Museum purchase made possible by J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family. 2020/2.1. Photography by Patrick Young, Michigan Imaging

In this towering sculpture, Spanish artist Jaume Plensa presents a teenage girl shielding her eyes with her hands. The protective gesture evokes different interpretations: is she blocking the world from her view, and thus urging us to recognize our individual responsibility to see what’s around us? Or could she be reminding us of our interior landscape of thoughts and dreams?

Previously installed at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the work is part of a series in which the artist monumentalizes the likenesses of young women in public spaces, calling attention to who is and isn’t represented in large-scale public art. For Plensa, immortalizing a young girl on the precipice of her adult life captures the popular saying that, without doubt, the future is female.

Sometimes, our hands are the biggest walls. They can cover our eyes, and we can blind ourselves to so much of what’s happening around us.

Jaume Plensa

Curriculum / Collection
Through January 2022

David Choberka
Andrew W. Mellon Curator for University Learning and Programs

Explore the Infinite Value of Art In Shaping Our Understanding of … Well, Everything

In Curriculum / Collection, an incredible variety of University of Michigan courses take material form. Collected for each course are objects that address the nature of reality, imagination, and vision in relation to politics, social action, science, mathematics and more.

Working in collaboration with University faculty, the works in this exhibition were selected for their capacity to provoke engagement with the guiding questions and themes of their specific courses, while also offering students material and inspiration for research projects in their areas of study. The exhibition demonstrates some of the diverse and creative ways art plays a central role in learning across the disciplines. It also asks us to consider what we can learn from art objects across an infinite variety of specialties and subject matter.

As classes begin in Fall of 2020, you’ll be able to use this page to explore the collections designed for each course, dive into the works themselves, and hear from the professors and students about how they are engaging with art and objects in new ways. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something surprising along the way, too.

Featured Exhibition Story
Float Away On the Wind of This Tadashi Nakayama Woodcut

Afternoon (Flowers, Girl and Butterfly) is a 1972 woodcut piece by Tadashi Nakayama, and is included in the Florilegium section of Curriculum/Collection. Click through this interactive version to learn more about Tadashi's artistic process, and well as the symbolism of the flowers in his work.

Pan-African Pulp: A Commission by Meleko Mokgosi
August 26, 2019 through fall 2021
Vertical Gallery

In Pan-African Pulp, Botswana-born artist Meleko Mokgosi explores the history of Pan-Africanism, the global movement to unite ethnic groups of sub-Saharan African descent. His Vertical Gallery installation, which inaugurates a new biennial commission program at UMMA, features large-scale panels inspired by African photo novels of the 1960s and ’70s, a mural examining the complexity of blackness, posters from Pan-African movements from around the world, including those founded in Detroit and Africa in the 1960s, and stories from Setswana literature. Pan-African Pulp vividly connects to Detroit’s deep history of activism, where organizations such as Black Nation of Islam, The Republic of New Afrika, Shrine of the Black Madonna (Black Christian Nationalism), Pan-African Congress, and United Negro Improvement Association were founded. The renewed urgency for diversity and civil rights in Detroit, and the country as a whole, heightens the relevance of Mokgosi’s project and reveals the deep connections between these historical movements and those developing today.

Lead support is provided by Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan African Studies Center.

Outdoor Sculpture (locations map)

1. Mark di Suvero
Born in Shanghai, China, to parents of Italian heritage, Mark di Suvero moved to the United States in 1941 and began creating large-scale sculptures in the early 1960s. >>

2. Mark di Suvero
Mark di Suvero, who once described his work as “painting in three dimensions,” draws inspiration from many sources, including mathematics, physics, music, and astronomy, to create large-scale sculptures with a sense of geometry and structure. >>

3. Beverly Pepper
Ternary Marker
In the late 1950’s Beverly Pepper, who had trained as a painter, began to experiment with sculpture. >>

4. Lucas Samaras
Stiff Box No. 12
Lucas Samaras’s diverse oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, photography, and performance. >>

5. Erwin Binder
A veteran of the United States Air Force, Erwin Binder learned to cast metal and work with stone as an employee at his family's jewelry business.

6. Michele Oka Doner
Angry Neptune, Salacia, and Strider
In her recent sculptural work, the artist (and University of Michigan alumna) Michele Oka Doner has returned to making monumental, figural sculptures.

7. Charles Ginnever
Daedalus is one of a series of works Ginnever created during the mid-1970s with titles drawn from classical mythology.

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