|The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) recently announced a partnership with renowned nonprofit public art and history studio Monument Lab.
The partnership will examine the role of historic structures at the University of Michigan (U-M) in upholding social and cultural systems and narratives. The initiative will include new research and the development of a newly commissioned art installation. There will be several opportunities for community engagement along the way, and community input will be essential in shaping the outcomes of the project.
The collaboration will be led by Dr. Paul Farber, director and co-founder of Monument Lab, and Ozi Uduma, UMMA’s Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art, both graduates of U-M.
According to UMMA’s website, UMMA Director, Christina Olsen stated, “We are thrilled to be working with Monument Lab and Dr. Farber to bring a project of this scale and importance to UMMA and the University of Michigan. Interrogating our past and being honest about our history is the only way we can make sure our Museum is truly able to make good on its promise to build a more just future. This initiative will serve as a source of great collective dialogue for years to come, and we hope to support new models of engagement between cultural institutions and the public.”
Uduma said, “The darker stories and histories of our structures and monuments can often be covered up by their facades. What we’re trying to do in partnership with Monument Lab is reveal and unsettle these histories. It’s our duty as a free, public museum to tell more complex and more honest stories about the choices made by artists or by builders or by university administrations because those choices often have direct impacts on our communities. To move forward, we must unpack this past.”
In conjunction with this partnership, Dr. Farber will also serve as the University of Michigan Arts Initiative’s first-ever Curator-in-Residence. According to UMMA’s website, “The Curator-in-Residence is a pilot for an ongoing role on campus, which aims to integrate current thinking about public art in the U-M curriculum, catalyze the capacity of public art to weave together various campus communities around relevant topical issues, and showcase the opportunity to leverage art as a bridge between U-M and the SE Michigan community.”
The partnership between UMMA and Monument Lab supports critical dialogues about the responsibilities of public institutions as cultural history makers and stewards, and is part of UMMA’s ongoing efforts to challenge its own history and approaches in order to create an institution more reflective of its community and honest in its explorations of art, culture, and society.
Learn more about this project and what to expect on UMMA’s website.