The end of the fall semester is near, and Living Arts is excited to present an update on how our community has been encouraging and fostering an interdisciplinary approach to creative pursuits!
This newsletter will recap some of the exciting activities we’ve had in the past semester and will provide insight into thought processes of our current and former students and faculty/staff that assist with our program. This newsletter serves as the medium through which you, our members and supporters, can gain insight into our wonderful community.
Brittany Simmons is a first-year urban planning master’s student from Belleville, MI. She graduated from the University of Michigan’s Residential College (RC) in April 2018 with a BA in Spanish, Social Theory & Practice and Urban Studies. In undergrad, she played trumpet in the Michigan Marching Band and the Michigan Basketball Band, was a university tour guide, and worked in the RC Admissions Office. Brittany continues to play in the basketball band to stay tapped into her musicality… but she also loves Michigan Basketball and John Beilein! (Fun fact: Mark Jones was her trumpet lesson teacher 7 years ago!)
Brittany was recently elected co-president of the Urban Planning Student Association, is an editor for Agora, the urban planning student journal, and is doing research on smart mobility in Benton Harbor, MI. Even though she’s pretty busy, she’s experiencing a smooth transition from undergrad to graduate school and is enjoying working with the mentors as the Living Arts Graduate Intern!
Grace Giordano is a third-year undergraduate student from Kentucky, majoring in Art & Design. She primarily focuses on printmaking, fibers, and painting and is passionate about the role of art as a tool for understanding, healing, and inciting important conversation. Along with her job at Living Arts, Grace works as a designer for a hospital based arts non-profit and is currently creating a coloring book to be distributed to patients and families at Michigan Medicine. She is also beginning work as a mentor and peer advisor for Stamps students.
Grace was a member of Living Arts from 2016-2018 as both a first-year student and then as a mentor. She loved her time in the program and still lives with friends that she met during the Living Arts Ice Cream Social on her first night at Michigan!
October’s All-Community Meeting was titled Fun and Feedback: Making Games and Solving Problems with the Iterative Design Process. Austin Yarger, Game Development Lecturer in Computer Science and Engineering, presented students with a series of game design challenges. Students critiqued and played previously created games, created and improved new games through iteration, and designed games based off chance factors.
In November, our All-Community Meeting focused on TouchDesigner, software that allows for the creation of anything from interactive installations to AR/VR. Simon Alexander-Adams, a Living Arts alumnus, presented the workshop to multidisciplinary teams, each of which created video art using their own digital content. Serving as an introduction to this program, this lecture exposed students to new methods of interdisciplinary creation using technology.
Sara Eskandari is the RA for the women’s hall in Living Arts. As a senior Art & Design major with a computer science minor, her work is centered around video game design. Her interdisciplinary studies led on to her becoming the vice president of Wolverine Soft, a video game development student group, on campus. Her favorite thing about being a Living Arts RA is seeing the various transitions within the community: mentees growing into mentors, and even some mentors becoming RAs.
Mitchell Lawrence is a junior in Taubman College, majoring in Architecture and minoring in Asian Languages and Cultures (with a focus in Japanese). Outside of Living Arts, he’s involved with the Initiative for Inclusive Design, an interdisciplinary student organization that aims to make design that is accessible to all. Mitchell’s favorite part of being a RA is being surrounded by the wonderful energy of Living Arts and helping incoming students start their journey at U of M.
Ben Roth is a junior, majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Material Science. He is the RA for 3rd Rotvig. Ben spends most of his free time preparing and running Dungeons & Dragons for the Living Arts community. During breaks, he enjoys skiing, so much so that he was a member of the University of Michigan Ski Team! Ben’s favorite part about being an RA is being able to expand on his role as a mentor on a larger scale with the Living Arts Community!
Community Member Spotlights
Stephanie Sim – Living Arts Alum
Art & Design
Tess Eschebach – Living Arts First-Year Member
College of Engineering
Tess Eschebach is a freshman in the College of Engineering from Bloomfield Township, MI. She is currently deciding between Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with a focus on sustainable energy. In her free time, she enjoys a multitude of activities: rock climbing, art, drawing, reading, and doing math and science. She is involved in Michigan’s Climbing Club and the MRover project team.
Tess was drawn to the University of Michigan because of the strength of its engineering and art schools. As someone who is naturally drawn to a variety of topics, she didn’t want to give up one interest of hers for another. “I knew that I wanted to pursue engineering as a career, but I was also not willing to give up academically doing art. A lot of the schools that have great engineering programs don’t have strong art programs, and Michigan has both”. She’s enjoying the opportunity to explore all of the courses that the College of Engineering offers as well as the art courses at Stamps.
Living Arts is a great fit for Tess because it gives her the space and the community of like-minded people to explore her many interests and explore topics that she hasn’t yet considered before. “Everyone is so passionate about everything that they do. And everyone is so different, too; they have their own different interests, their own unique skills. It’s really cool to be in the lounge and take a break from your own work and hear what the art students are doing, what the music students are doing. We all have a common love for the arts and a passion for integrating our discipline with another’s.”