Visitors Invited To Watch Artist Paint Mural Directly On Gallery Wall for Latest Exhibition at U–M Museum of Art

Visitors Invited To Watch Artist Paint Mural Directly On Gallery Wall for Latest Exhibition at U–M Museum of Art

Anishinaabe-Ojibway artist Bonnie Devine will be on-site starting July 6 to paint map of the Great Lakes 

The wall where Bonnie Devine will paint The Gift

Visitors to the University of Michigan Museum of Art are in for a special in-person experience this summer when artist Bonnie Devine will paint a new mural directly on the gallery wall in UMMA’s current exhibition Watershed

The mural, titled The Gift, will depict a brightly colored map of the Great Lakes region looking out at a highway overlaid across the land. It will examine violent accounts of colonial expansion across the Great Lakes watershed.

Devine will paint the mural in public during gallery hours, while visitors watch and interact with her. Work will begin on July 6 and is expected to last through July 15. All museum visitors will be able to watch during regular gallery hours. Admission to the Museum is always free.

Devine, who is Canadian Anishinaabe-Ojibway, roots her artistic practice of installation art, painting, and writing in a commitment to storytelling and pictorial traditions that are core to Anishinaabe culture. 

Mural mockup courtesy of Bonnie Devine

"We're very excited to have Bonnie create this mural while the exhibition is open so our visitors can experience the creation of this work in real time. That's not something we're able to do often and I think it will be really wonderful for our visitors," said Jennifer Friess, associate curator of photography and the curator for the Watershed exhibition. 

For Devine, the in-person nature of the project is a unique opportunity to connect with museum guests in an intimate way. “I think it’s one of the most fun parts of it, actually, is being able to talk to people as they come in and have a look at what you’re doing and ask questions or offer suggestions, or, like, why did you paint that blue?” Devine said. “These are things that artists live for, is the possibility of communicating. That’s why we do what we do, and to be able to communicate right in the gallery is a wonderful gift. Usually you make something and then you walk away and you never, ever imagine what other people are thinking or responding to in it. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Watershed is open from now through October 23, 2022. The exhibition explores critical environmental and socio-political issues relating to water through the complex history and current experience of the Great Lakes, and features the work of 15 contemporary artists. In addition to Devine’s mural, other commissions include work by Khaled Al-Saa’i, Michael Belmore, Andrea Carlson & Rozalinda Borcilă, Kate Levy, and Meghann Riepenhoff. There are also new and recent installations and works by Dawoud Bey, Matthew Brandt, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Doug Fogelson, Cai Guo-Qiang, Shanna Merola, Pope.L, and Senghor Reid. 

Watershed surfaces the impact of water scarcity, pollution, and economic and cultural displacement on the communities of the Great Lakes region, past and present, while also highlighting how those same challenges affect populations across the country. 

Lead support for Watershed is provided by the U-M Office of the Provost, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, Susan and Richard Gutow, and the U-M Institute for the Humanities. Additional generous support is provided by the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, Graham Sustainability Institute, and the Department of English Language and Literature. Special thanks to Margaret Noodin and Michael Zimmerman, Jr. for translating the gallery texts into Anishinaabemowin. 


Watershed brings recent work from fifteen contemporary artists to UMMA for an exhibition that immerses visitors in the interconnected histories, present lives, and imagined futures of the Great Lakes region.

View Exhibition