The Ypsilanti Art Incubator of 76 Huron Street held a PechaKucha Friday, as it does the first Friday of every month. PechaKucha is a Japanese phrase meaning “chit-chat.” Developed by a Tokyo-based architecture firm in the 1960s, it’s a rapid-fire format for giving talks in public that are entertaining and efficient. Being adaptable to almost every format, the Ypsilanti Art Incubator decided to use it to have five artists from the Ypsilanti area, most of whom are current or former
Eastern Michigan University art majors, present and talk about their art.
“It provides a bridge from academic life to the real world,” Ilana Houten said. She is the treasurer at the Art Incubator and graduated from EMU last spring with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. “We try to attract fresh young artists. People who are relatable and try to help people learn a bit about art and enrich their lives. Something different, off the beaten path, which I think is really healthy to broaden your mind.”
The Ypsilanti Art Incubator itself began last winter and is something of a cooperative venture, dedicated to developing the artistic community of Ypsilanti. By pooling resources and providing a platform to step out of the academic world and into the art world at large, the Incubator intends to be a good stepping-stone for artists from EMU to move on as professional artists. These artists include Alexa Dietz, a sculpture major who will be graduating from EMU at the end of this semester.
“The Art Incubator started as a critique group for artists,” said Dietz, “because they have a new BSA program now and a capstone class, which is like a resume builder. However, since I first began going in 2008, there hasn’t been a group to get feedback from other artists after you graduate. So the Incubator itself is an incubator for other artists.”
This PechaKucha was the third such show the Art Incubator has held, attracting 40-50 people. This particular PechaKucha featured works by six artists, some of whom came to explain their works.
“I’ve always felt there’s been a big disconnect between Eastern and the City of Ypsilanti,” Dietz said.
“So I’m trying to bridge that gap. We all are.”
Eli Stevick said that his works involved something called Roy meat and bean beer. To best understand his art, you’d have to read the backstory he came up with, involving a post-nuclear escape from Earth and how the surviving humans treat a race of people they find on Neptune.
Romanian-born artist Lavinia Hanachiuc is a sculptor and photographer. Her art is heavily influenced by her early life, as she grew up under an Eastern European dictatorship, a life where everyone had to develop several personalities. At home, you could be yourself with people you trusted, and in public, where the authorities were watching you at all times, you had to conform just to go unnoticed.
The only performance artist of the night was Joan Newberry. She makes short films, most of which can be found on her YouTube channel. The films take words or phrases, superimposes them onscreen and then repeats them over and over while Newberry over exaggerates the stereotypes related to it to the point of absurdity. By doing this she tries to explore the reasons behind them and to see if there is any logic there.
“What we want to offer to the art students is a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.” Jessica Tenbush, the treasurer of The Art Incubator, who is studying for a Master of Fine Arts at EMU.
“When you graduate, your art community doesn’t end. You have a place to go to continue that education.”
The Ypsilanti Art Incubator is currently applying to be a nonprofit. With the assistance of the Riverside Art Center, which provided their current location at a very reasonable price, the art incubator got up and running three months ago. With about 25 members, it has been growing steadily. It costs artists $25 a year to be a member.
“We’re getting new members all the time.” Tenbusch said.
If you are an art student interested in joining the Ypsilanti Art Incubator, you can visit the website, ypsiartinc.org. Or if you just love art, you can go to the Ypsilanti Art Incubator itself at 76 Huron Street.
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