UMMA Celebrates Second “Feel Good Friday” With Spoken Words and Music; focuses on current African art exhibitions

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) held its second event in the “feel good friday» series of spoken word, poetry and music on March 11. The event was the second in the series, which kicked off last month with a fashion show celebrating diversity in fashion.

In collaboration with the University Department of African American and African Studies (DAAS) and the Washtenaw County African American Historical and Cultural Museum (AACHM), this episode of Feel Good Friday focused on the African Diaspora and African Art History.

UMMA program coordinator Jessica Allie described the importance of this Feel Good Friday for participants and performers.

“This event in particular, we’re highlighting feel-good voices,” Allie said. “We really want to elevate the spoken word (and) poetry, but also the act of remembering and honoring our mentors and the people who really helped us become the people we are today.”

DAAS Program Manager Elizabeth James spoke about the importance of this event to the department and to the UM community.

“I think whenever different groups come together, like the Museum of African American Culture and History, our department, which serves our students on campus, and then also UMMA, which is for our community and our campus community, it’s just a nice mix,” James said.

Among the artworks featured at this event was an ongoing UMMA exhibition titled “We write to you about Africa” and a piece of the late Jon Onye Lockard, a founding faculty member of the University’s DAAS. The event also drew attention to UMMA’s exhibition on the ethics of colonial-era African museum art with a project titled “wish you were Herewhich invites viewers to discover 11 works by unknown artists, as well as films, television clips and documents.

Shira Washington, recruitment coordinator for the College of Engineering, said she was delighted to see the University supporting African art and artists.

“I have never seen anything so profound, yet concise and concise, to represent African art on this scale,” Washington said. “Seeing so many dynamic pieces by up-and-coming artists as well as well-established classic artists…it really warmed my heart to see the University of Michigan dedicated to supporting something like this.”

The night featured a series of spoken word and poetry performances by local artists and members of the UM community, many of whom paid tribute to Lockard. Music, Drama and Dance Senior Jacob Ward performed lyrics expressing how he sees himself and his emotions in Lockard’s work.

“Here before me was the spirit of someone who, like me, needed to express their full range of emotions through something both constructive and destructive at the same time,” Ward said in his post.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Ward described feeling uplifted and moved by the art and artists around him that night.

“Being black at UMich…it’s hard,” Ward said. “And it’s nights like this where I feel like I can do it. I don’t feel weighed down. »

Daily staff reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at

James C. Tibbs