Water is the lifeblood of civilizations, the center of cities, the foundation of creation stories and the connective tissue of culture. Water is a life force, without it humanity will cease to exist. Fresh water is necessary for the survival of all living organisms on Earth. The human body is made up of over 60% water and humanity cannot survive without it. Water is a vital life source that holds (and generates) power. It is nourishing, quenching, and refreshing but has also been commodified, polluted, and politicized.
From the Standing Rock, Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations, to the straits of Mackinac where oil pipelines threaten important waterways, to the polluted Mississippi River and drying Colorado River Basin, to water shutoffs in Detroit, PFAs in Ann Arbor, and the Flint Water crisis (to name just a few), ensuring access to clean water (and the sustainable ecologies it supports) is an ongoing struggle that requires intersectional, intergenerational, and collective knowledge sharing, discussion and action to protect.
Call for Work
Stamps Gallery invites the undergraduate and graduate students of Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design to participate in a poster and video exhibition that responds to the prompt: The care, sustainability, and access to free and clean water is arguably one of the most urgent and challenging issues of our time “What can you do to spread awareness of water issues and conservation measures?”
Eligible students: submit your work using our online form by Friday, August 19, 2022 →
- Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate major in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.
- Eligible students may submit one work (poster or video).
- Time-based work must be submitted as a YouTube/Vimeo link.
- The deadline for submitting work is Friday, August 19, 2022, 5pm, EST.
- A selection committee composed of students, faculty, and Stamps Gallery staff will review submitted work in the weeks following the deadline.
- Students whose works are selected will be notified by September 2, 2022.
- The exhibition will take place from September 15, 2022 — January 14, 2023.
Why posters & videos?
Posters can function as catalysts for change. For generations, posters have served as an effective tool to circulate ideas and messages to the public. Visually striking, and designed to draw attention from passersby, posters can be conversation starters, invite people to pause, reflect, spread the word, get involved. They have been a powerful medium for many conceptual artists and graphic designers to create powerful images and messages that could respond to immediate issues and be distributed widely. Similarly, video art was another exciting immediate medium for conceptual artists in the 1960s and 1970s as the technology became more accessible to the masses. Video art provided an alternative to the dominant broadcasting corporations. Artists made experimental films, recorded performances, and first-person narratives that were then exhibited and screened at galleries, museums, and events. Posters and videos continue to be salient features in the 21st Century to respond to urgent issues and questions facing the present moment.
Stamps Gallery is an incubator and lab for contemporary artists and designers to explore ideas and projects that catalyze positive social change. As the pandemic grips our nation it has exposed the social, political, and economic disparities that have disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The world witnessed in horror and sadness the meaningless loss of African American lives with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, among many others that we will never know. National and international outcries brought people together from multiple races, genders, and generations — on social media and in the streets — to publicly demand an end to police brutality, structural racism, and emphasizing that Black Lives Matter. What is the role of a university gallery in this time of crisis? How can we foster an inclusive platform for the students in our community to voice their ideas and foster a community based on equality, belonging, respect? We launched Respond/Resist/Rethink in the fall 2020 to kick off the fall semester with student work paired with the work of leading artists exhibiting at the Gallery.