Curriculum / Collection: Arts & Resistance

Curriculum / Collection

Arts & Resistance

On View: August 2 - December 17, 2023
David Choberka, Mellon Foundation Curator for University Learning and Programs / Curated in partnership with University Faculty

Presented as part of the Fall 2023 Theme Semester:

Arts & Resistance Logo

The capacity of the arts to challenge dominant regimes and ideologies, resist oppression, and envision pathways of change is at the center of the University of Michigan’s Fall 2023 Theme Semester: Arts & Resistance. A theme semester is a university-wide effort to engage with a subject of importance to learning across the disciplines and to public life and informed citizenship. 

More than 100 classes are being taught this semester that engage with the theme, ranging from a political history of hula dance in American Culture to a class about carbon-climate interactions in the College of Engineering. All of the classes consider art’s potential to communicate with power and complexity about questions of justice.

In the Curriculum / Collection series, the guiding themes and questions of U-M courses take material form in installations of art curated from UMMA’s collection. For the Arts & Resistance theme semester, we asked fifteen faculty to choose artworks for their students to work with. 

Their selections address histories of injustice and of social and political transformation. They invite us into questions of identity and representation within historical and present-day processes of exclusion and inclusion. They enable us to think about all the ways that art resists, from formal qualities like materials, color, and shape, to the identities of makers, subjects, and viewers. And they demonstrate the diverse and creative ways in which art can play a central role in learning across the disciplines. 

Select Objects In This Exhibition

Participating Courses


Celebrating the Curtis Collection

Museum collections can also be a site of resistance and desegregation. Several artworks on view as part of this exhibition are from the collection of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis, one of UMMA’s largest single acquisitions of African and African American art. The Curtis Collection counters the predominately white identity of UMMA’s collection of American art and has been crucial to the Museum’s antiracist commitment. 

On the occasion of the Fall 2023 Theme Semester, we wanted to spotlight the story of the Curtises as advocates for social justice with a legacy of art and resistance at the university and beyond. 

Organized by AunRika Tucker-Shabazz, James L. and Vivian A. Curtis African Art Intern at UMMA, we invite you to join us in celebrating the Curtises for their dedication to social justice and change at the university and for their indispensable contributions to the museum’s collection by writing a note of thanks below. Recognition and gratitude for trailblazers of justice and inclusivity are a site of resistance too.


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the U-M Office of the Provost, the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the U-M Arts Initiative, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, Erica Gervais Pappendick and Ted Pappendick, the Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker Endowment Fund, and the Oakriver Foundation.

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