Riverside Art Centers (RAC), May 2019 exhibition titled “Language” is/was a huge success.  Now running in the lower gallery until the end of May and featuring many of the area’s most noteworthy artists.   The opening reception was held in both the gallery and the Off Center adjacent space where there were performances from “Pure Dance Ensemble,” which was followed by a poetic performance art piece of “Type Writer Instrumentalists,” “Hannah Cut in,” by Carla Harryman.  

Pure Dance Ensemble is led by Dancer/Choreographer Gina Danene Thompson.  Hip Hop and Jazz dance pieces were performed by Pure Dance Ensemble, which was heavily influenced by Haitian dance choreography with open palms and performed to a song by Ludacris.  Performers from Pure Dance Ensemble that performed at the opening reception were: Celia, Lucy, Maxine, Fern, and Scott. Their piece was called “Same Love.” What is unique about Pure Dance Ensemble is their extensive range from jazz and hip hop, to modern, African and ballet.  They performed a second impressive performance on Family Day in the Gallery which takes place on First Saturday’s each month, with 3 dancers to hip hop and a marvelous Rag Timepiece with chairs. They will be performing in “Beau Monde” this spring. Pure Dance Ensemble includes 8th and up-Pure Teen, and Pure Youth- 3rd-6th, and Pure Kids- lower elementary.  Teacher and performer, Gina Danene Thompson is a rare gem for this area, placements in her classes are sought after as children and teens gain advanced skills in a variety of dance moves and frequent performance.  Many go on to degrees in dance. In the gallery there are images included in the exhibition for sale of Pure Dance Ensemble in lyrical positions where dancers are grouped bent over in sequence and a second spiritual photograph which featured dancers, reaching up and reaching out.  Both photos represent the collector’s items for fans.

The Typewriter Instrumentalists had two narrators reciting poetry and 5 seated at typewriters which were used as instruments.  Many were reciting phrases and typing in sequence to create rhythms which were a truly amazing cacophony of sound. Some of the most amazing poetry/performance to ever arrive RAC.  The piece represented a “narrative collage,” with a sea of voices, almost paranoid sounding, in unison at times and reflecting on futurologists, behaviors, or the sound of happiness or progression and procession.

Some of RAC’s gallery exhibitors included Margaret Parker, who showed a long white organza coat decorated with images of her artwork done as a “walking retrospective.”  The piece was originally a performance art piece shown in a Manchester Gallery and is reminiscent of gypsies who carried or wore all their belongings. Secondly, the piece paid homage to the afterlife.  Looking into the piece or retrospective was a wonderful Kali sculpture made of cut t-shirts with many arms of the shredded t-shirt.

Ryan Molloy, former head of EMU’s Art Dept. exhibited 3 color risographs, “Knowing Loving,” “Countless Things,” “Sometimes the End.”  The 3 prints where primarily vintage looking neon pinks and blues and interesting colors that perhaps can only be achieved from a risograph.  They were stacked cubes that built both words and ideas.

An artist called Elijah Bobo, exhibited 3 letterpress prints, etched with cut type.  One piece was “Mulatto Round Up,” another was “Tragic Boy,” and a third was “Rebel Breed.”

Steven Driscoll Hixson showed 3 pieces that included text and movement.  One piece was a black and white contrast quilt with excellent craftsmanship.  Pieces showed obstruction and fragmentation using text and movement of walking imagery.

Ava Ansari presented a highly successful performance art piece titled, “The Subway.”  Ansari is an Iran and New York, Ypsilanti transplant who featured herself in video dancing in a New York City’s subway station.  The subway traffic and continuous coming and goings of the subway juxtaposed with the dancing of Ms. Ansari were very beautiful. Her hands, like two birds, floating and winding, as if in Middle Eastern or belly dancing positions.  The juxtaposition against the subway was very graceful, often watching her dance through the windows of a passing train. She danced as if a song played in her head, or some kind of “freedom demonstration” or even” to dance with the subway.”  She was ecstatic, swinging her head and letting down her hair, hanging from a ceiling rail upside down and then simple, peaceful, extraordinarily graceful. It represents “man and machine,” man’s movement, and machines movement. Ms. Ansari’s work has dealt a lot with issues of space.  

Barbara Nevi presented a Quadtych mixed media piece that included children running and children playing with toy guns.  Some figures were colorized features in newspaper print outs. All 4 pieces exhibited each a word Who-Are-These-Men? One print featured images from a Bosnian war, others in military camo.  It was a juxtaposition of youth playing with guns who later become these future men of war.

Golsa Yoshovbi presented 3 portraits of women with Arabic text.  All three were very fine oil paintings which highlighted a distinction between oil and acrylic qualities.  The women were shown wearing headdress, turbans or scarves. Colors were rich, eyes were thoughtful.

Ypsilanti children were included on podiums in the exhibition and created animated emoji artworks. Some emoji were completed by Girl Scout Troup 40602 and Ypsilanti Community Schools as well as children from Weiss Elementary International Baccalaureate.   The cut paper artworks represent the influence of technology on the youth of today. The children attempted to design their own original emoji, animate their expressions, creating loving ones with heart pupils or angry ones with slanted eyebrows or even devilish ones with horns.  Attention to technological imagery by youth can be noted as well as their ability to extend it and design their own original pieces with Emoji animated styling.