UM students call on performance artist Tim Miller for interdisciplinary residency


Internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller will be in residence at the University of Michigan the week of September 12 due to high demand for the BFA among interarts performance students.

Interarts Performance is a unique interdisciplinary undergraduate degree offered jointly by the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design and the Departments of Theater and Theater and Dance and Performing Arts Technology of the School of Music, Theater & Dancing.

Miller is known for using performance-making techniques to foster civic dialogue and build community around issues of bodily autonomy and sexual and racial identity. After discovering his work in a previous interarts course, students identified Miller as an artist they collectively felt could have the greatest impact on their education experience – with an added eagerness to explore ideas of bodily autonomy in this particular moment of cultural significance.

“He said so many things that I thought myself but never said out loud, and he got his audience to engage with him in a way we’re almost taught not to. do,” said interarts performance scholar Elle Schwiderson after discovering Miller’s work. “Overall, for me, it was to see a queer artist being so strong and passionate about his homosexuality, and how there is so much pain, love, joy, tenderness and anger that you teaches us to keep in our body what we are not ‘allowed’ to let out.

Interarts Performance Teacher Holly Hughes heard her students and took action. Part of what Hughes loves most about this interdisciplinary course work is that students can “create their own curriculum from performing arts and visual arts, and combine it to create something new” .

While it’s common for artists to work across these disciplines, it’s rare for universities to offer this blended experience at the undergraduate level, she said.

“I had brought him a long time ago for a conference in Michigan and thought, ‘Maybe I can arrange a residency where he can actually work with classes and help students develop their work,'” said Hughes, a longtime friend and admirer. by Miller.

Which she did.

Students will create original works inspired by Miller’s that address some of the most challenging social issues of our time. The artist will guide students in exploring how to transform their own experiences and ideas into compelling performance art and catalysts for conversation and change.

“What I love doing with this class is just exposing them to a lot of people who are finding different ways to combine their interests in performing arts and visual arts,” Hughes said. “We have this popular musical theater program, for example, which could mean students have agents right out of college. With interarts on the other hand, there is not such a direct career path, but there are so many possibilities. Through these residencies, I want students to be inspired by different people developing their own path.

Miller has taught performance at NYU and UCLA, and performed at Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and dozens of other universities across the country. He received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts during his career, including an NEA Solo Performer Fellowship in 1990 which was canceled under political pressure from the Bush White House due to gay themes in Miller’s work. .

Miller and three other artists successfully sued the federal government with the help of the ACLU for violating their First Amendment rights and won a settlement in which the government paid them the amount of the unfunded grants and all costs of righteousness. Although the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1998 to overturn part of the Miller case and determined that “standards of decency” were a constitutional criterion for federal arts funding, Miller vows “to continue to fight for free speech for fierce and diverse voices”.

The UM residency will conclude with a “performance, talk and diatribe” with Miller and a short work created by interarts students at 6:00 p.m. on September 16 at Studio 3 of the Dance Building on North Campus . Miller will discuss how live performances can embolden communities, challenge injustice and connect people with each other.

Presented by Stamps, EXCEL Lab, Roman J. Witt Residency, Arts at Michigan and the Center for World Performance Studies, the event is free and open to the public.


About Author

Comments are closed.