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Mapping the river

Building bridges between the arts and environmental education

March, 2011

Beginning in 2008, an interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan faculty members and students worked collaboratively to create a unique and multilayered performance based upon the element of water entitled Mapping the River.

This year, a two-day colloquium was held Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20 at the Helmut Stern Auditorium inside the University of Michigan Museum of Art to facilitate dialogue about the role of the arts in environmental education and stewardship.

For more information, please visit MAPING THE RIVER

Participants will look at bridges that have been built across the divide of the arts and environment and will imagine others that might be created. The hope is that during the colloquium connections can be made both within the university and with the larger community interested in the arts and the environment. Out of such communication could come new works of art, new ways of understanding environmental issues, and possibly a way of influencing policy. Participation is invited from diverse disciplines–engineers, dancers, designers, painters, photographers, architects, poets, ecologists, film makers, community organizers, climate change scientists, musicians and more.  Keynote speakers David Abram and Jennifer Monson will set the framework for this discussion.

Taking the cycle of water from rain to earth to river to lake to ocean to clouds to rain as its overarching structure, and focusing on our local water source the Huron River as a central narrative, the work  features live music, dance, video, and spoken word.  At the Arts and the Environment colloquium, the team members will present an adaptation of Mapping the River specifically designed for the University of Michigan Museum of Art Apse space.

Mapping the River II music is composed by Professor Evan Chambers (photo right), chair of the Composition Dept. Professor Joseph Gramley, chair of the Percussion Department performs with his students. Writer Keith Taylor, Lecturer in English Language and Literature and author of The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed, contributes text.  Choreographer Jessica Fogel, Professor of Dance (photo left), creates choreography for the work, performed by UM dance majors. Video is conceived by all of the original team members including graphic designer Doug Hesseltine, Associate Professor of Art and Design, and filmed and edited by Emmy Award winning videographer Christie Vedjes. Sara Adlerstein, Associate Research Scientist in the School of Natural Resources and Environment contributes scientific conceptual frameworks, and also her paintings of bodies of water, which are integrated into the video. Lighting design is by Mary Cole, Staging and Lighting Supervisor of the UM Dept. of Dance, with costume designs by Suzanne Young.

Dancers for the performance include Ellen Busch, Jillian Hopper, Isabella Ingels, Madeline Rager, and Kelli Yapp.  Percussionists for the performance include Andrew BahleEvan Laybourn, and Joseph Gramley.

Taking the cycle of water from rain to earth to river to lake to ocean to clouds to rain as its overarching structure, and focusing on our local water source the Huron River as a central narrative, the work  features live music, dance, video, and spoken word.  At the Arts and the Environment colloquium, the team members will present an adaptation of Mapping the River specifically designed for the University of Michigan Museum of Art Apse space.

NOTE: Artwork above, “Headwaters,” by Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez.

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