Alumni Exhibition

Each year, our Alumni exhibition offers an opportunity for Stamps graduates from across the country and internationally to share their current creative work. Held to coincide with Ann Arbor’s expansive summer art fair, the exhibition fills two galleries—Slusser Gallery on U-M’s north campus and Work•Ann Arbor in downtown Ann Arbor. Volunteers are needed to serve on the committee to help plan and execute this all alumni event - if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Amber Connell.

2015: Puzzles, Riddles, and Enigmas

Jurors' Statement

There are mathematical fictions, such as the square root of minus two, that is to say, numbers which are known not to exist and cannot exist, but assuming the existence of which has demonstrable mathematical and real world consequences. Such mathematical fictions may be abstruse for many of us, but there is a realm of thought and sensuous experience where our culture has allowed us deep engagement with the play of fictions, namely, the making of and looking at forms and constructions called art. Puzzles, Riddles, and Enigmas is a selection of works marked by the movement between the fictions of looking and the blurring of the easily assumed distinctions between the oneiric (or dreamlike) and the empirical. Flat abstractions suddenly shift and reveal planes assembling into differing objects and perceptual constructions, whilst the surface of a photograph moves from cloud formation to fissures splitting in the real, looking back at the viewer. In this body diverse works – consisting of fabrics, furniture, jewelry, objects, books, painting, photography and more - the touch of the surréel is found in works of solid construction where mathematically constructed surfaces assume a dreamlike quality. Corners, shadows, and surfaces are treated materially and yet often take on a life of their own, as if such qualities suddenly have the capacity of looking back at their viewers. This ability to sense that a work of art looks back at us – that we can establish a relationship with a work as though it has its own agency – is amongst the most important of the potencies of the fictional forms that we call art and is the core of what it means to be moved. The great critic Adrian Stokes called this capacity – this gift – the invitation in art. Puzzles, Riddles, and Enigmas captures the acceptance of this invitation.

Thomas Berding
Associate Professor (Painting), Art, Art History, and Design, Michigan State University

Michael Stone-Richards
Professor (Critical Theory and Visual Studies) Liberal Arts, College for Creative Studies, Detroit

Grand Prize Winners

  • Peter Crow
  • Julie Johnson
  • Mara Millich

Honorable Mentions

  • Michelle Bien
  • Sally Brogden
  • Sheryl Budnik
  • Ryan Herberholz
  • Megan Hildebrandt
  • Marcia Polenberg
  • David Rubello
  • Robert Sedestrom
  • Russell Thayer
  • Jean Wolff
Exhibition Timeline
  • July 13, 2015: Exhibition Opens
  • July 17, 2015: Opening Reception, Award Ceremony (6 - 8 pm at Slusser Gallery)
  • August 2, 2015: Exhibition Closes
  • August 7-8, 2015: Artwork Pick-up

Submitted Work


Image: Material Fiction
Melis Agabigum

Material Fiction

The fictitious nature of the material and surface treatment, where the object appears to be something that it is not.

Image: Red State/No Boots
John Angell and Louis Lozon

Red State/No Boots

Red State/No Boots is an interstate collaboration that resulted from the enduring, enigmatic friendship of two University of Michigan art school graduates who never met in school, but became good friends in Ann Arbor in the 1970s. Utilizing a free-form artistic process that employed the US Postal Service to bridge the 2,048 miles between Sacramento and Chicago, this work creates a time-slipping, hellish vision that incorporates elements of gridlock, Dresden, and the Joffrey Ballet.

A vote of no confidence, Red State/No Boots references the absurdity of the current state of affairs while extolling the core values of friendship and collaboration. The work abstractly depicts mankind’s collective self-annihilation and layers savage archival imagery from civilization’s barbarous past to transcend the planned obsolescence of everyday life and achieve a shimmering, ephemeral beauty.

If seeing is believing, then perception is meaning.

We are John Angell and Louis Lozon, and we approve this message.

Image: Break the Code ( ..... ------)
Joan M. Beesley

Break the Code ( ..... ------)

Numbers have always intrigued me as graphic designer. I tend to keep my designs simple and to the point for my viewer and at the same time meaningful yet artistic in favor.

Image: Reflection: the creation of alternate perspective. Is one more authentic than the other?
Pamela Martel Bernstein

Reflection: the creation of alternate perspective. Is one more authentic than the other?

The study of graphic design was my primary focus in college and then became my career for the next 30 years. Over the course of my career as an artist, I have especially enjoyed the study of color. In recent years, I have found myself gravitating back to the fine arts, in particular, working with pastels. I often find myself studying an object or nature scene, focusing on it so intently that I can see colors that I never even knew were there at first glance. I love getting lost in the process of placing shadows or darkest colors first and then layering one color on top of another to create the mood, define the object, or create a new unique color. Choosing the right color is intuitive. My hand seems to know what feels right. I find the process of translating a scene or object into a two dimensional piece of art to be a gratifying and therapeutic experience.

Image: Pieces of Goodness
Suzanne Beutler

Pieces of Goodness

One of my methods for organizing my thinking for a painting is starting with a major idea and adding additional ideas that fit together to tell a story. These ideas are like pieces of a puzzle that fit together to make a complete picture. In this painting, I started with Christ’s transfiguration. As I read about Gandhi, I saw his involvement with light and freedom just like the transfiguration. Seeing how much Martin Luther King was influenced by Gandhi fit with my ideas of the transfiguration. These ideas were opportunities to learn a better road in life. Why is the road so tough? Why do we choose to stay in the same place rejecting the freedom for all and refusing to change? Where is our courage? Instead we are left with prejudice, terrorism, hatred and violence in our cities, and wars around the world.

Image: untitled (see cover symbol), or Sacred Geometry, Universal Mathematics, Infinite Perfection
Michelle Bien

untitled (see cover symbol) or: Sacred Geometry, Universal Mathematics, Infinite Perfection

This sculptural "artist book" compiles symbols from the most mathematically complex of crop circles of unexplained origins that have appeared around the world throughout history. The book is composed based on the interpretation of the universal geometric structure of the symbols, i.e. the symbols are placed within similar contexts of each other to provoke within the viewer a sense of connection between the symbols - however far apart they may have actually occurred in space and time - and a conclusion that might be simultaneously meaningful and open-ended.

Carisa Bledsoe


My work is inspired by the performance of life through color, texture, time, and space. I am drawn to beauty, but I am constantly curious about my instincts. I find nature to be a source of answers--how be them answers that in many ways ask even larger questions.

Nureyev: HIV
Gabriella Boros

Nureyev: HIV

The outbreak of Ebola this year greatly alarmed me because it was caused by a virus. When people get sick you always hear them say "Oh, its just a virus."

My series Going Viral creates a visual connection between people and the deadly virus that killed them. The enigma is how could such a microscopic and visually elegant microbe be fatal? How did these worthy individuals die from "just a virus"?

Dr. Sheik Humair Khan was in the forefront of Ebola research when he died of the disease. Liewise, Rudolf Nureyev was in the forefront of dance when he died of AIDS. The puzzle of prevention remains.

Jill Brandwein


I am fascinated by the recontextualizing of objects on small scale. It doesn't take fireworks, just a twist slight enough to interrupt and capture our attention. Here is a play on form and on our relationship with these objects which we would never normally associate. Here we see them striking the same pose. Leaving them to play side by side in this blank context, somehow the teapot becomes animated while the boxer becomes more of an object and they almost lose their identities in this empty space.

untitled 14-9
Sally Brogden

untitled 14-9

My work focuses on simple abstract form. I am fascinated with the associations that we make as we interpret the world around us, and I hope to create objects with broad and ambiguous references, forms that are perplexing due to their many allusions. My works draw on references to human form, to nature, and to mass-produced objects. By embracing the plumpness of anatomical form, as well as the symmetrical rigidity of machine-tooled objects, I strive to heighten potential readings.

Nancy Brooks


We all experience waiting for something at some point in our life. Maybe it's a special moment, a much anticipated experience, or just what seems an ordinary event to most of us but not everyone.The puzzle here is what or who are these children waiting for?

Mary Ethyl Palmer Brown Photographing her Mother's homestead in North Dakota where she was born in a sod shack in 1915.
Donald Brown

Mary Ethyl Palmer Brown Photographing her Mother's homestead in North Dakota where she was born in a sod shack in 1915.

Mary Ethyl Palmer Brown was a private Michigan photographer from 1935 until her death in 2014.

micro-measles 1
Paula Brown-Gray

micro-measles 1

I was inspired by the microscopic level of measles for this exhibition because I find it to be a puzzle, riddle and enigma that such a beautiful organism can be so highly contagious and dangerous.

Image: Gossip
Chica Brunsvold (née Mary Sue Willey)


Begun non-objectively with watercolor on Yupo, figures appeared amid the stampings and textures. They seemed to fit the idea of gossip, complete with "a little bird."

Geiger House
Jennifer Buckley

Geiger House

A nuclear family,
A house they hold dear,
love keeps them here,
when the rest disappear,
but the number is wrong,
and the suits are too many,
what ever happened to
Uncle Ben and Aunt Penny?

Can you guess what happened?

Image: Circus Trick - Halo
Sheryl Budnik

Circus Trick - Halo

Solving a puzzle in our life or making a hard decision sometimes can come down to what seems like two or more equal solutions. We then juggle our facts, our feelings and others' opinions. My solution is to make a 'leap of faith' or 'take a free-fall' and see where I land. A 'leap' often solves the enigma of Who I Am? and What Do I Want In My Life? As an artist, I do this all the time. In front of a canvas, I let go of the 'tree branch' and 'make a leap' - I trust my intuition and 'listen' to the paint. The painting knows what it wants.

Image: Inner Narative
Robin Bukovina (Khym)

Inner Narative

Wooden blocks covered with a silvery iridescent sheen hang loosely on ordinary hardware screws. The blocks can be easily removed and rearranged. Shadowy words are imprinted on them. Some are lightly smudged. Some can be made out. Words of doubt, worry, inspiration, fear, longing-. Words that are whispering in my head. Like these puzzle pieces, I can rearrange them daily- but the pattern never really changes.

Image: Ducks on the Wheel
Richard Burd

Ducks on the Wheel

Ducks on the Wheel Go round and round All through the town Amsterdam bicycle culture 2014

Image: Mobile with Arm Balance
Richard Burns

Mobile with Arm Balance

The world is always in motion. I make sculptures that highlight motion and respond to the touch or air currents.

Image: Prairie Mandala
Carrie Carlson

Prairie Mandala

The bumblebee enigma is twofold. There still exists the timeless mystery of the unlikely aerodynamics of bumblebee flight and study of their wing kinesiology continues to inspire innovation in mechanical engineering. Conversely, hive collapse is a recent, urgent, puzzle. "Innovations" in modern agricultural practices may be the culprit. Ironically, our attempts to improve crop yield may irreparably devastate the very populations that underpin essential pollination.

Image: Hamtramck Disneyland?
Alicia Chiaravalli

Hamtramck Disneyland?

Photographed on 35mm color film and printed on kodak color paper. An exploration of the wonder of a handmade Disneyland in Dmytro Szylak's backyard in Hamtramck Michigan.

Image: Untitled II
Theresa Choe

Untitled II

I am an artist who works in a variety of media. By studying sign processes and communication, I make work that generates diverse meanings. Associations and meanings collide. Space becomes time and language becomes image. My artworks are inspired by the intersection of science and personal narratives-visions that reflect the randomness of existence combined with subtle details of odd, humorous or eccentric elements. My works question the appearance of an image in the context of contemporary visual culture in which images, representations and ideas operate operate with mixed and misled messages.

Image: The Tragedy of Phaethon
Sean Clancy

The Tragedy of Phaethon

Inspired by classical literature and the neo classical painters, the legend of Phaethon is the subject of this work. The son of a god who strove to achieve greatness, overreaching and perishing in the attempt. I have tried to create a mysterious and timeless quality to this painting.

Image: Edvard Why?
Augustine Cofrancesco

Edvard Why?

Expressing and sharing ideas and feelings through art in interesting ways is the spark of life.

Image: Alan Turing's Clippers
Gretchen Comai

Alan Turing's Clippers

This painting is an enigmatic representation of Alan Turing's fascination with Fibonacci phyllo taxis.

William Crosby


Abstract landscapes, my paintings are motivated by the natural landscape... sometimes with a degree of representation and often times more abstraction.

Image: Untitled #2, Red
Peter Crow

Untitled #2, Red

This is a drawing about making and feelings. The process of making is labor intensive, involving all of my physical attributes, especially my arms and hands. The feelings are more complex, of course, but inextricably a part of this piece. This drawing is also autobiographical, as it is based on an earlier piece from five years ago. So this is a reworking of the past, bringing the past into the present. It's also about the power of the artist to say something personal.

Image: Twined 2
Kathryn Darnell

Twined 2

Twined 1 and Twined 2 are part of a long and ongoing drawing exploration of stones, wrapped in an interest in Celtic design. Continuous interlace and knot-work have always represented a puzzle of sorts, demanding that our imaginations follow edges and account for ends. The idea of enclosing stones inside woven strips of grass or reed was irresistible. Looping strands of imagined fibers around solid stone surfaces and the resulting interplay of light, shadow and texture is much of what interested me about this subject, but I also like the idea of story. My work has always included an element of mysterious and ambiguous narrative. Why do I draw these stones? What do they mean? You may be able to follow a laced length of fiber until it ends or meets itself, but I love the notion of a mystery behind the presence of this artifact.

Image: Black & White & Read Allover
J Michael Davison

Black & White & Read Allover

Always trying new media and techniques helps keep my eye fresh.

Image: 340-9-1
Nicole DesChamps-Benke


Nicole DesChamps-Benke's interests are deeply rooted in environmental preservation, global sustainability, and on the social influences that impact the choices we make for nutrition and health. In her studio practice, Nicole creates wearable pieces that raise the awareness of materials by exploiting the dichotomy between precious and nonprecious metals. Specifically, aluminum soda cans with colorful surface printings are paired with silver to either heighten the awareness of the value added by aluminum as a versatile resource or amplify the complex health issues associated with their contents. As critical survivability on earth, maintaining our health and protecting our environment are issues of global proportions.

Image: Fall
Barbara Dinneweth


Fall was designed and created to be an interactive artwork. The cubes are removable and moveable. The viewer is able to puzzle out a visual solution that fits their aesthetic vision. I have been creating interactive artwork for over a decade now and of all of the work I create, it is the body of work which creates the most interest. It generates a lot of conversation and if the work is in a venue which allows for interaction, most people cannot help but be drawn to touch the work and move the cubes around. The work is very tactile and begs to be touched.

Image: Huron Reeds
Susan Finley

Huron Reeds

This photograph of reeds on the shores of the Huron River has been deconstructed digitally, and altered to appear as a pattern of colors and shapes, while maintaining the integrity of the original visual image. I overlaid the original print with pastel to enhance and define the shapes, design and color.

Image: #876, Puzzle Series
Thomas Frank

#876, Puzzle Series

Relief layers in each panel give clues to puzzle panel arrangements/connections for various hanging options. How many can you find?

Image: A History of Toil:  The Roost
Helen Geglio

A History of Toil: The Roost

A home-sewn, full-coverage blue apron, worn and badly stained, discovered in a basement rag pile. Who made it? Who wore it? And why, curiously, was the border of dancing Highland children, complete with bagpipes and Scotty dog, applied to the bottom edge upside-down? This mysterious garment appears at the center of this quilt. A small section of the border can be seen near the upper left corner.

Image: Magnificent Mile
Ken Giles

Magnificent Mile

My interest in photography did not begin with a burning desire to see the world through a camera. It evolved through a fascination with creating photographs that capture our surrounding environments. The photograph offers me the ability to suspend the world in fragments of time and space, and express how multiple visual narratives are the essential ability of photography to reveal the enigma of a perpetual present. For me, the photograph is more than just a fleeting moment of still visual documentation, it is an arrested phenomenon – a collapsing fragment of light patterns coming together to form a larger perceptual understanding of our world that surrounds us.

Image: Guarded
Clara Giles


Guarded: An invisible layer of self protection. An emotional and physical safe guard.

Image: The Chess Players
Walter Griggs

The Chess Players

Puzzles, riddles, and enigmas - chess ! ....

Image: Falling papers
Debra Golden

Falling papers

Messages are misunderstood as papers fall with the leaves and the writing disappears. What did he/she mean by that....the words were lost.
Communication is a recurring theme in my work, and it also one of many ways I share and communicate with the arts.
Art can perhaps help translate our deeper meanings.

Image: Stormy's Objects
Liz Guilmet

Stormy's Objects

Image: Shimmer
M. Sedestrom Guthrie


The path ahead.

Samuel Harper


A TOUR of AMAZVILLE." (Seat Belts Optional.)
I love letter forms. In my early art-director days, we had to design ads and draw illustrations. Once I hired a professional lettering artist to design a unique alphabet for Ford Trucks ads, and Mr. Isbell named it "Harper."
Now, within my painting are sections and pieces of letters and numbers, among other things. In an intuitive sense, simply putting this together has been rather amazing and lots of fun!
An influence for my painting is Stuart Davis. Interestingly, Davis started his career as an advertising illustrator. I can relate to that.
Take a close or far-away look. And enjoy your Amazville "fly-over" Tour.

Image: Bondage Jigsaw
Susan Hensel

Bondage Jigsaw

Bondage Jigsaw is a part of a larger body of work about the ways in which we, in our culture, assign value to people based on their numerical statistics: height, girth, weight, age, income. These measurements are often seen as evidence of moral uprightness or moral turpitude. This tryannous insistence on a homogenous ideal is especially felt by women in regard to weight and beauty. The confusion of statistics with human value creates a personal and economic minefield, tied up with measuring tape.

Image: Kitchen Wall; North End
Ryan Herberholz

Kitchen Wall; North End

As Detroit changes the landscape of the city changes. Some neighborhoods continue to become depopulated while others are rebuilt and repaired. This dilapidated wall is part of a structure that will be demolished soon.

Image: Shattered Winter
Kelley Hersey

Shattered Winter

I am interested in finding and recording that precise place in the world where the manufactured and the natural converge in the imagination of the viewer. To locate that spot, I search for elusive suggestions of the natural world in the manufactured object, imposing and juxtaposing these visual nuances into the natural world to create a new landscape.

Image: Intersection I
Abner Hershberger

Intersection I

Images of North Dakota and the Midwest flatland are always with me. These are the fields I plowed in my youth and well into adulthood. The stark markings of furrowed land, patterns of irrigation, and stubble fields have a poetic quality, and in them I find a rich and meaningful source for visual expression. Abstracted, their imprint seems even bolder, representing colorful independent sections that coexist peacefully despite their diversity. I left the North Dakota farm to explore the greener pastures of artistic pursuits, only to be pulled back to the fields.

Image: The Problem of a Hand
Megan Hildebrandt

The Problem of a Hand

I document the process of teaching my child to name her world. Her fine motor skills are bewildering to watch develop; her language teeters between simple and difficult problems.

Image: Troll
Trevor Hoey


I have published a handful of New Yorker cartoons over the years and submitted this last week. At the time of my submission to Stamps Alumni show this has not YET been rejected.

Interdependent Opposites, no. 25
Ryan Hoover

Interdependent Opposites, no. 25

At a distance, this piece might be perceived as a flat, homogenous texture of static or noise. Closer inspection, however, reveals thousands of individual layers and fibers of paper, seen on end and receding into space. This illusion of depth and complexity contradicts the fact that the image is printed onto a single, flat sheet of paper. This piece contemplates the combinatory and generative nature of language - not only spoken and written, but also the universal mathematical language of computer binary code that employs the most elemental of signs (0s or 1s) to represent "on" or "off" states. Similarly, this work utilizes the parameters of diametrically opposed concepts (light/dark; addition/subtraction; under/over; horizontal/vertical; hidden/exposed; physical/virtual) as its creative inspiration. Its basic compositional elements consist of specified sections of four rotated, but otherwise identical, digitized sheets of paper ( the traditional physical medium for written language), precisely aligned to produce the illusory appearance of an intricately interwoven pattern.

Image: Caesar's Cipher and the Enigma of Time
Ruth Howell

Caesar's Cipher and the Enigma of Time

This piece refers to time and the many ways that one thinks and speaks about it.
The text is a Caesar cipher that, when decoded, will expose some thoughts on time.
Clue: Zosk=Time

Image: The Akashic Records
DuWaine Hoy Jr

The Akashic Records

The Akashic Records refer to a database of every word, thought or action that is stored energetically and encoded in a non-physical plane of existence in the fourth dimension. They are said to contain the information of every Soul or Being in the cosmos. The Records are continually updated, with each new thought, word or action that every Soul or Entity makes.
Pronunciation: a-kaw-sheek

Image: Neuroplacticity
Kerry Huver


The human mind is an enigma. This piece is an expression of the mysteries of my own mind accumulated through life’s journeys and unforeseen roads. Each photograph or image was created in a separate moment of time and then pieced together to become a representational whole. The collective images triggered strong emotional and physiological responses of anxious energy. The anxiety is contained in each image and then transformed through the art making process as the pieces were put together and photographed in a new form. The plasticity of the brain and cellular structure are able to change and new neural pathways are created through this creative and transformative process. Through art making, overall feelings of wellbeing and improved mental health functioning can occur.

As a creative art therapist, I continually work on my own process as this is what I ask others to do in our work together as I walk alongside them in their process. This is a cathartic and reflective piece for me as I learn to manage my own anxieties which have taken on a new form through the creative transitions and the interplay of relationships in my life. The neuroplasticity of the brain has aided me in this transformation.

Image: The Problem of a Hand
Helen Jacobson (Goldstein)

Thinking, Dreaming?

Presently pursuing painting and printmaking in my studio at Waltham Mills, MA. Intrigued still by shapes in human figures, how they relate to each other and the spaces around them. Use my figure drawings to print, paste on and add depth to my canvases.
Studied art with Friso Ten Holt in Amsterdam, Edward Corbett at U C Santa Barbara. Course work at MFA, Castle Hill, Provincetown Art Association Museum. Exhibited in local libraries, schools, Open Studios and at PAAM member's exhibitions.
Grew up in Europe and Latin America, always interested in diverse cultures and their artistic expressions.

Image: Villa Al Bahar
Amy Jeffries

Villa Al Bahar

Time, identity, and influences collide in the interior design of the Villa Al Bahar, Kuwait City, Kuwait. The result of the collaboration of Amy Depew Jeffries and Minta Bell of Minta Bell Design Group and Kenneth Hobgood of Hobgood Architects. The living room is remarkable in scale at 900 square feet within a 22,000 square foot villa. The project reflects the exploration of culture and historical design influences. The process wound through the significance of religion, beauty, hierarchy, social interaction, the unfolding of expectations and roles and the symbolism of opulence, materials, motif, ritual, and customs. The project is a representation of the passage of ten years from the inception of the project until the initial installation. The house continues to evolve as new requirements are revealed.

HIC SVNT LEONES (Here Are Lions)
Julie Johnson

HIC SVNT LEONES (Here Are Lions)

HIC SVNT LEONES (Here Are Lions) explores the latest upward redistribution of wealth in the United States. The installation-s title derives from the Latin, -HIC SVNT LEONES,- often inscribed on medieval maps to indicate uncharted territory; it remains appropriate when imagining future economic effects and cultural consequences brought about by the redistribution of capital.
HIC SVNT LEONES (Here Are Lions) is a mixed media installation that uses steel, glass and gold as the primary materials. Cut, welded and rusted steel elements are utilized to reference industrial labor, the working class, and those unemployed through the relocation of manufacturing centers. The glass portion of the piece represents the middle-class, made possible and fueled by post World War II policy followed by a booming U.S. economy. The manufactured glass blocks echo the concept of the middle class as a historically recent construction, now in a state of erosion. Gold is used in the installation to represent the uppermost echelon of American wealth and power. Its display speaks not only to the care and support, political and otherwise, required to preserve this wealth, but also to its social containment and isolation within the larger whole. The size, condition and proximity of each mound suggest their neglect as drivers of domestic economic policy, and also highlight the flux and precariousness between these class divisions as representative of socio-economic levels.

Image: Cravings
Patricia Johnson


The greatest puzzle on earth is the human brain.

Image: Museu Morandi
Charles (Kel) Keller

Museu Morandi

Inspired at the Museo Morandi, Bologna.

Image: equation
Ken Kleppert


The revelation of digital beauty.

Image: Cravings
Jennifer Krause Chapeau


Vincent 1 to 10" depicts the same boy at age one, and ten, gazing out through a glass window. The viewer looking at the painting sees both; into the interior, and the exterior landscape reflected in the glass. The result is a visual puzzle that interweaves the interior space with the external environment. Are we seeing in, out, or both?

Showing the subject as both a baby and an older boy forcing us to contemplate the passing of time and its inevitable effects upon us.

Image: Liberty 511
Anita Lamour

Liberty 511

Moveable type made life easier, right? Perhaps, perhaps not. We define ourselves with letters. Our lives are shaped by letters. Letters can stand for many things. These letters make my life meaningful.

Image: Icarus Ascending
Jack Lardis

Icarus Ascending

The Greek mythical Icarus challenged the sun, Helios, by flying too close with his wings of wax, feathers, and string, causing the beeswax to melt, and thereby plunge the exuberant lad into the Aegean Sea. The mystery is, why did Icarus defy his father’s orders to avoid flying too close to the sun that eventually led to his son’s demise?

Donna Fustagno
Antonietta Leeds

Donna Fustagno

My earliest memories of "art appreciation" were listening to my Mom explaining "fustagno" to admirers of the art work hanging on the walls of our home. "My sister in Italy made them," she would say. "The process is called 'pirografia'." "She burns the fabric with an alcohol heated tool." "The fabric has to have a nap, like cotton velvet or fine corduroy, because it is the nap that is burned away or scorched." "Beautiful, isn't it?” Once a popular art form, Fustagno, pyrography on natural fibers, met its nemesis with the introduction of miracle fibers that melt under a heated tool.

Image: Elegy I (Tetrad)
David Littell

Elegy I (Tetrad)

It is not for me to tell you what you should see, but I control it.

Image: Dreams
Janet Lorch


Throughout our lives, many objects, events, people and feelings stay with us and sometimes invoke change. Very often passed down through generations, it is not always. clear how they affected us and why we have become who we are. Reflection sometimes (but more often not) reveals the mystery behind these representations of moments in time that make up the complexity of the person we have become. These moments make us who we are - sometimes dark, sometimes full of light - all necessary in a rich, complex life.

Image: The Nightmare In The Cut
Craig Maki

The Nightmare In The Cut

Detroit's Dequindre Cut, a former below-grade freight train route now turned public park, reaches from Atwater Street to Eastern Market. Last summer, the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum installed a reproduction of Henry Fuseli's 1781 painting 'The Nightmare' on a pockmarked and scratched wall covered with layers of street art. Fuseli's framed work, previously displayed on a museum wall among other paintings of its era, looks as if it is removed from the interiors of Mies Van Der Rohe's Lafayette Tower, rising in the upper part of the picture, obscured by overgrown vegetation. Two posters to the right of 'The Nightmare' present similarly exaggerated, otherworldly depictions of human forms. The posters, their weathered material suggesting they were hung before 'The Nightmare,' could have been removed from apartments as well. A seam in the concrete wall extends the linear path of a corner of the tower into the Cut, slicing in half a billboard-sized painted rectangle that covers up what might have been the most explosive expression of the entire scene.

Image: Delicate Arch
Leslie Masters

Delicate Arch

When I painted in Arches National Park, I marveled at the puzzle of this arch. How did it form so perfectly? Why doesn't it collapse? I know the formation is a fleeting moment in earth time, but to me it is timeless!

Image: Declaration
Ian Matchett


This piece explores the moment of Fidel Castro's announcement that Cuba would align with the Soviet Union. I attempted to capture a moment emblematic of the the Cuban revolution's efforts to secure a future in the face of US hostility. This was a decision stamped by the contradictions of switching from one patron state to another while still maintaining the island's independence.

Image: Self Portrait 6.0
Janet McClintock

Self Portrait 6.0

Each moment, each year, each decade creates our so called "life". A puzzle indeed.

Kathy McDonough-Lemery

"In Answer to Puzzles, Riddles, and Enigmas"

In choosing a design to comply with this theme of Puzzles, Riddles and Enigmas, I went directly to spirituality which means so very much to me. Life and religion are so filled with endless puzzlings, riddles and enigmas (mysteries) that I found it interesting and fun to give a visual representation to these concepts. The pastel colors suggest optimism, while the detail--some childlike in structure (the shapes)--and some sophisticated (the gradation of pencil)--explain the whimsical yet difficult challenges of life. This piece was a joy to do. My 7-year-old granddaughter, Aubrie, influences me a lot with her brushstrokes. Having been a U of M student influenced me by challenging me to represent my art--not in just photo-realism--but in abstraction. Peace to you.

Image: Move. Change.
Marcia McMillen

Move. Change.

Move. Change.- 2015 Acrylic on canvas by Marcia McMillen. This painting's fluid movement and energy morphs and changes from the smallest to the largest in the world of nature..

Image: Interior with Sunlight I
Margaret Meade-Turnbull

"Interior with Sunlight I"

Is it sunlight or figure or drapery?

Image: Samsara
Judith Meyer


The cycle of samsara is a mystery to us all.

Image: Tripthycon
Melita Miculs


The enigma of the workings of the human mind and that of human nature.

Image: Unending
Jill Christine Miller


My work examines an autobiographical understanding of depression and the emotional reactions inherent to these states of consciousness. With depression feelings can often be masked and turned inward, and this hidden quality produces a melancholy outward reaction to internal turmoil. Studying the figure in psychological and conflicted states translated into physical form through body language is expressed through visual metaphors of stripes, shadows and distortions within my work. The background surrounding the figure is also considered as a response to the buildup of psychological tension, whether as a physical space or as a metaphorical state hovering between the mental and physical. The gesture of hands can imply and communicate ideas. This painting examines stripes in comparison to the unending, twisting and enigmatic symptoms of depression. The surrounding areas are conceptualized whether considered as negative or abstract space through interaction with the hand and stripes. Bringing the idea of human emotion into physical, cohesive visual representation through paint is the aim of the work.

Mara Millich

"3 Forks Ranch, #1"

This photograph was taken at a ranch outside Steamboat, CO just as a storm rolled over the mountains. The moment itself felt as if it was staged by some sort of ethereal being. The wind stopped, the birds quit singing, and the clouds exhaled this perfect ray of light above a bend in the river.

Image: Dream Series: Cauldron 2
Paul Mindell

Dream Series: Cauldron 2

This photo is part of a series of eight images. What is the swimming figure in the cauldron about to confront as she nears pool's edge?

Image: Yes we can!
Paul Montie

Yes we can!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has an annual breakfast to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme for this particular year was "achieving diversity through leadership." The image of MLK is a composite of images of american civil rights leaders that came before and after King. It's a collage of civil rights leadership in the face of the movements most celebrated figure.

Image: Tomatina
John Murrel


Participants in Spain's Tomatina Festival become interlocking pieces in this human puzzle like image.

Image: Whoo are youu
Dale Newman

Whoo are youu

2015 Puzzles, Riddles, and Enigmas is so 2nd grade

Image: Heraclitus' Heart
Lily (Elizabeth) Niederpruem

Heraclitus' Heart

Sit and mingle with me
Play with the thumping beat
Just gaze
Just gaze
Ever-changing time and self
Sit and mingle with me
Play with the thumping beat

Image: Domestic Markings
Kelly Jean Ohl

Domestic Markings

Kelly Jean utilizes a surprising array of household objects and tools to create her work, from antique kitchen utensils to intricate handmade textiles. These provide the foundation for many of her striking and detailed patterns. Each piece is then hand carved, burnished, sanded, washed and waxed. After the building process is completed, Kelly Jean hand paints them with oxides and fires them multiple times in the kiln to achieve her trademark rich, textural and tactile finish.

Image: DIarry of a Vampire Princess
Keith Pakkala

DIarry of a Vampire Princess

DIarry of a vampire princess is inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween. This painting meshes the slasher genre, personal narrative, and childhood nastslgia. I take the role of a director and stage the character(s) with props to create a painted mise en scene. Watching numerous horror flicks, scrapped together family photos, and going out observing the local goth club scene inspire my work. I am interested in depicting the pathos of the character(s).

Image: Sycamore
Sheila Partington


This bowl began as my puzzle, cutting and assembling glass, but through heat work and glass chemistry it became it's own enigma. Like the bark of the Sycamore tree it has a pattern unique to itself which can not be reproduced.

Image: Who? What? Why?...
Beverly Peller Henson

Who? What? Why?...

As visual artists we can express our point of view or tell stories. We can also present a visual work to show others so they will respond and tell their stories.

Image: Holiday Chaos
Marcia Polenberg

Holiday Chaos

Family dynamics at holiday times can be fraught with hurt feelings and insensitivity. The puzzle is how to make a satisfying occasion with personalities that seem to share little in common.

Image: Seed Puzzle: Falling to the Ground
Sharron Pollack

Seed Puzzle: Falling to the Ground

Puzzle pieces resemble fleeting transient flower forms falling to the ground. The "helicopter" seed pods are stratified and have the potential to germinate some time in the future.

Image: Have you entered into the treasures of the snow...? II  Job 38:22 K.J.V.
Charles Powers

Have you entered into the treasures of the snow...? II Job 38:22 K.J.V.


Image: untitled
Laurel Prafke


I saw the sculpture of a distorted animal and imagined it rising. The soul of the animal.

Image: Lightplay 1-9
Elton Robinson

Lightplay 1-9

Called as a witness in any courtroom, you will be sworn to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"; yet photographs are routinely admitted as factual evidence, and they can not be relied upon to obey any of those requirements. Here, for instance, are nine photographs of precisely the same simple subject, from precisely the same viewpoint, all in available ambient light, yet each frame tells a different story. This piece won 3rd place in the 62nd annual Art of the Northeast exhibition, an all-media juried exhibition at the Silvermine Arts Center in Connecticut.

Image: Saint John The Baptist
Andy Ross

Saint John The Baptist

I've always really liked shadow boxes.

Image: Poetry of Space #110
David Rubello

Poetry of Space #110

The works by David Rubello express the wonder of human perception. the compositions explore interrelationships of clear geometric planes and volumes in space, In all cases the viewer tends to 'read' the geometric shapes as if they were 'pictures' of sculptural three-dimensional shapes. The poetry of space and the energy of the compositions lie in varying ways Rubello sets up tension between the possible three-dimensional existence and the reality of optical illusion.

Diane Kirkpatrick
Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

Image: Do Fish Jump For Joy?
Cynthia Rusnak

Do Fish Jump For Joy?

Pose the question to anyone who has ever fished if there is a secret to successful fishing and their response would probably be that fish, a wonder of our underwater world, are in themselves puzzles, riddles and enigmas. Fish are fluid, fast, muscular and instinctive. However, why a fish jumps out of the water in a majestic, graceful arc will always be a mystery.
I sculpt in stone, an ancient material, using only hammer, chisels and sandpaper. Stone itself holds mysteries that as an artist I seek to understand. I try to adapt my image to the shape of the stone, and this piece of limestone had broken off in a triangular shape leading me to the fluid, curved, powerful image of a fish.
The development of the earth, its materials and creatures are puzzles to us and we behold it all with wonder. While we can never truly understand a species different from our own, we are grateful that their beauty and diversity inhabits our world.

Image: Obscure View
Virginia Russell-Sheldon

Obscure View

Vision can be misleading and focus uncertain

Image: Windows Within Windows
Jeff Schuster

Windows Within Windows

Recognizable objects and places are combined to create a dreamlike non- linear reality, capturing the enigma within. The story within the story.

Image: House of Soul Reliquary, a gift for Tyree
J. Amadeaus Scott

House of Soul Reliquary, a gift for Tyree

In November of 2013, fire destroyed the House of Soul, a part of the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. This was just one in a series of arsons targeting the Project. It's an enigma why someone would want to do this, and what they hoped to gain.

This piece is a reliquary for the House of Soul, a miniature memorial crafted from bronze and affixed with tiny copper records - holding a piece of charred wood. Tyree Guyton, the artist behind the Heidelberg Project has begun rebuilding out of the ashes - creating new work on Heidelberg Street rising up from the basements and foundations of the burned houses. This reliquary is a gift for him.

Image: 26.G85
Robert Sedestrom


I draw, creating small, eccentrically playful results - although actual drawing is a minor part of the final effort. I use materials such as paper, string, cloth, wire, wax paper, cardboard, bubble wrap, and any produced image that is at hand. Previous work is not immune from piracy. I will cut and paste available passages from a previous work to fill a new need. The drawings are typically 3- x 5-, sometimes 5- x 5-, and then cut down to size, bypassing the need to work within a given format resulting in this case as "26.G85".

Image: Urban  Planning
Mark Sedgeman

Urban Planning

My work speaks for itself.

Camille Serre


A simple enigma… it is what it is.

Image: AbsoluteNothing
Richard Shanks


As a graphic designer who graduated from UM School of Art, I find beauty in letterforms and poetry in wordplay. This custom art piece, created just for the UM Alumni Show based on your theme, creates a verbal conundrum using the words "Absolute Nothing" and "Near Perfect Failure". The outline, shading and boldness of the lettering emphasizes certain words in the composition, further manipulating perception and meaning.

Image: Schoolgirls on Vindhyagiri Hill
Alexander Sobolev

Schoolgirls on Vindhyagiri Hill

Shoes are not allowed at historic sites in India. So I climbed Vindhyagiri Hill barefoot. Snaking up the enormous granite mound were thousands of awkwardly angled hand-carved stairs. This ascent peaks at an ancient Buddhist temple. Like the mountain itself, the temple was made entirely of stone, the dim caverns lit only with candles and what little light sneaked in through the entrance. Stepping back into the sun I couldn't help but reflect on life and my time in India. While looking at little details carved into the walls and the larger landscape stretching out far below, I stumbled across a schoolboy perched on a ledge. Out of habit I took his photo. The click of the shutter drew gazes from his classmates nearby, and they sprinted up to ask for their portraits as well. At the front of the crowd, swooning with excitement to be photographed by an unexpected foreigner, were these three girls.

Image: Multiple Personalitea
Betsy Statman Besl

Multiple Personalitea

I spy... the interdigitating dilemma, riveting riddle, and perplexing puzzle of the - Multiple Personalitea!

Image: In My Backyard
Sandra Steed

In My Backyard

Creating the composition for “In My Backyard” was like figuring out a design for a puzzle. I wanted to incorporate positive shapes in black and white and negative areas that were black and white. So the top half was developed with black leaves and white negative area and the bottom was designed with white ferns and a black negative surround.

Image: Maury
Jennifer Stefanek


The subject of two of the earliest riddles we learn as children is the humble chicken: 'Why did the chicken cross the road?' and 'What came first the chicken or the egg?' Two unanswerable questions that spark much playground debate and hilarity. I bring into focus the chicken but reduced down to just the beauty of a single chicken feather blown up larger than life. Ordered from an Etsy shop from an ecovillage in Missouri, a collection of about 25 feathers came packaged in a Ziploc bag, arrived via USPS First Class Mail and was labeled simply with a sharpie, - Maury."

Damsel In Distress
Lynn Stephenson

Damsel In Distress

I am a colored pencil artist that literally draws from nature. If you look closely, you will find the answer to many riddles there.
Where can you still find a actual Damsel In Distress? Right under your nose!
I love the precision of line and color saturation that can be achieved, the portability, the non-toxic nature, and the convenience of working with colored pencils.
I draw on paper and drafting film and always work from my own photographic references.

Image: 32 degrees F (melting or freezing?)
Julie Strabel

32 degrees F (melting or freezing?)

Abstraction of ice moving on the water.

Image: Snow Bull
Martha Sullivan

Snow Bull

Always the enigma in nature, when gazing at clouds, snow or water, recognizable shapes appear, like this shape of a bull I saw in a pile of freshly plowed snow. Natural collages appear to me, ongoing, in the natural setting in which my home rests. This is what I most enjoy contemplating and reporting in pastel colors.

Image: Retirement Speech
Phyllis Swonk

Retirement Speech

Unintended Consequences: The surprise kiss TOTALLY shocked the colleague in the middle. All three were giving speeches to their colleagues at that moment, and I had been primed to expect something interested while it happened.

Image: Dialogue: His
Russell Thayer

Dialogue: His

These chairs are not designed to be comfortable, although they are not bad at all. They are essentially sculptures.

Dancing Clouds
Mary Tobin

Dancing Clouds

If you've ever seen a flock of starlings (called a murmuration) fly together, it is like watching a shape-shifting cloud... a single swirling mass... moving in wildly unpredictable formations in the sky. How hundreds, or thousands, of birds swiftly coordinate flight in these networked patterns remains an enigmatic phenomenon of nature. (By contrast, my hand-stitched design did not take shape NEARLY as quickly.)

Image: Impact/Fracture
Marjorie Tomchuk


The viewer is presented with the concept of Impact/Fracture in a visual form. The next question would be, "What kind of fracture is this?"-" The image becomes a puzzle. Is the artist dealing with an abstraction of change or of destruction or division? Is it cellular or cosmic?
The art is created on archival artist made paper. A collagraph is used to achieve a deep embossing. The plate is run through an etching press and then hand colored with an airbrush using fiber dyes.

Image: Flight 370
Barbara Trupp

[Flight 370] "Good night. Malaysian three seven zero."

The most compelling enigma today is the location of the remains of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared over the Indian Ocean on 8 March 2014, after departing from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members on board. In spite of extensive multi-national searches, no trace of the plane has been found. The incident remains under investigation. The pilot's last communication was "Good night. Malaysian three seven zero.

Image: Escape
Maria Tsiros


I made Escape using acrylic on canvas. It was a work in progress for about a year. Working on this painting was very therapeutic me. I was in a dark place feeling sad and alone. I was depressed. I look back at this painting and I am happy to know that I am a stronger person because of what I have been through and now I feel invincible.

Image: Lemons
Mary Wahr


I am fascinated with fractals and have developed a method so I can create fractal artwork by hand. Each piece begins using a process called decalcomania: pressing paint between two smooth surfaces. When the surfaces are separated the resulting image contains many fractal patterns. I enhance these fractals using colored pencil, erasers and paint. My desired outcome is that the viewer will become entranced by the beauty of fractals.

Image: Not the End of Summer but Beginning of Fall
Stephanie Warburg

Not the End of Summer but Beginning of Fall

Fantasy coupled with a plethora of color is what interests me. I paint imaginary environments... landscapes, sections of a garden... into which the viewer may enter for a moment. For this reason, I never include figures in my paintings, I ask the viewer to be that figure. I believe paintings should be a respite for the viewer... a place to reflect, to reminisce, to escape... to find joy.

Image: Anonymity
Robin Weiss


My work often explores the ambiguity of images. I am interested in exploring how viewers respond and interpret images which elicit different meanings. This work evolved from some older drawings I had done. The images of the figures got me thinking about relationships and communication, and how our interpersonal relationships have been evolving in our age of digital communication.

Image: Sherbert Sky
Denise Willing-Booher

Sherbert Sky

Willing-Booher transforms unflattering, inanimate and living subjects into dynamic watercolor paintings. Taking our human perception of nature further into simple expressive shapes and line. Using creative composition, stroke and color to make the commonplace captivating. Her images challenge societies view of what is considered beautiful.

Image: Saga  of the Ice People
Elizabeth Willis

Saga of the Ice People

Spin me around now, can you see? little ice people wild and free! they want to swim but they can not dare. can you find the danger there? evil ice gator, see his head? the ice people threw ice chunks and he fled. see his bumpy tail as he goes! now it's safe everybody knows. they all jump in, the coast is clear, they laugh and swim, and disappear. but don't be sad, it is not tragic. next winter they will all be back, like magic.

Image: RingWorld's Topographical Enigma
Robin Wilt

RingWorld's Topographical Enigma

Creating a world is magic ...

Image: Muscle Torso
Ellen Wilt

Muscle Torso

A no-brainer

Orange Painting 1 10_12_14
Jean Wolff

Orange Painting 1 10_12_14

My interest in systems and structure within a grid format is a systematic exploration of a structure and its subsequent construction and deconstruction. The repeated manipulation of the space within the edges of the painting's surface allows that the work is not just an image but becomes a support or object unto itself as well. Each painting expresses a great deal with limited means, testifying to the power of the formal language within the surface plane. These works are built on an evolving set of inter-relations, rather than just a system of theme and variations. It is a meditation on more than just the formal exercise - not planned, but with each work created in response to a previous work and as a series of a whole. Although abstracted and set out in formal terms/language - these works have a systematic mathematical quality (referred to in the titles and the date of completion). Beyond the rigors of the geometry, the various media or materials activate the surface, differentiating each painting from another, as well.

Image: Deli Adrift
Cynthia Yates

Deli Adrift

A brilliant mid winter morning transformed the Onion Roll Deli on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak. The closed eatery made a colorful subject for the puzzle of perspective.

Image: Manhattan
Don ZanFagna


Image: Down Yonder (Blue)
Matthew Zivich

Down Yonder (Blue)

Down Yonder (Blue) is a painting that belongs to a series of paintings, drawings, and collages that depict American political history. The art works in the series combine related imagery that refer to actual historical events but do not literally illustrate those events.