You Are Here

You Are Here


Curator: Jennifer M. Friess, Associate Curator of Photography | On View: Through Summer 2023

Welcome back to the museum. We’ve missed you.

On March 16, 2020, we closed our doors, just six days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We didn’t know for how long. At that point there were twelve confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washtenaw County. We weren’t wearing masks because we didn’t fully understand how the virus is transmitted. We reopened to the public 488 days later, on June 17, 2021. While it is exciting to be together again and to see the world slowly reopen, we are also deeply impacted by what we’ve been through. This exhibition holds both of those feelings.

The works of art in this show were selected because you really need to experience them in person, to be immersed in their textures, patterns, colors, and ideas. The exhibition is designed to remind visitors to be present where they are: to look and feel and be at UMMA, in person at the museum. It also reminds visitors where they aren’t: at home, isolated, connecting with each other virtually.

The centerpiece of the exhibition—Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Keshawn Warren standing in front of a vibrant floral background—exemplifies the idea of being present in oneself. Elsewhere you’ll find experiences for all of your senses. Come visit and play the Harry Bertoia sound sculpture to announce your presence in the gallery. After all, you are here.

Jennifer M. Friess
Associate Curator of Photography

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Featured in the center of UMMA’s iconic Apse is a portrait by Kehinde Wiley

Wiley’s work challenges us to reconsider what and who contemporary portraiture can and should represent. He invites everyday people of color to select poses from historic paintings of kings, queens, gods, and saints. For this portrait, Wiley’s model—a young man named Keshawn Warren—chose the stance of Saint Francis in Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert (pictured here). Warren’s open arms and upward glance mimic the Christian saint’s posture, but in Wiley’s reinterpretation, a lush and vibrant floral background wraps around Warren as he claims his space.

Kehinde Wiley
Saint Francis of Assisi
oil wash and graphite on paper, in artist's frame. 
© Kehinde Wiley
Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

Watch UMMA Transform

Over the course of several weeks in September 2021, UMMA’s Apse transformed into a technicolor spectacular. Watch the space transform before your eyes in this timelapse video.

Watch on Youtube

Select Works in this Exhibition

(best seen in person)

You Are Here Musical Labels

There’s a new way to experience the art on display as part of the You Are Here exhibition—you can listen to it. 

Working with Chamber Music Department Chair Matt Albert and assistant professor of composition Roshanne Etezady, nearly 40 students in the U-M School of Music, Theatre, & Dance recorded musical pieces inspired by the artworks in this exhibition.

Listen Here

Photos by Peter Matthews

Come be here

Come experience You Are Here in person. All welcome, always free!

Plan Your Visit


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch and the University of Michigan Office of the Provost.

UMMA - Feel Free. New Look. New Website. New Experience. Coming January 2024.

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