The University Record, June 25, 1997

Muralists at work in Media Union

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

An army of artists are scampering amid scaffolding in the lobby of the Media Union. With hammers, scissors, chalk lines, rubber gloves, razor blades, paper towels, sport bottles of red, yellow and blue paint and buckets of water, as well as a few M&Ms, melon slices, cookies, and fruit on the side, the muralists are assisting New York artist Dorothea Rockburne in the creation of her "Euclid's Comet" mural, a work commissioned by the University.

Among the artists assisting Rockburne are Rick and Debby Zuccarini of Detroit and Mark Pomilio, an adjunct assistant professor of art in the School of Art and Design. Pomilio, who painted the new murals in the U-Club at the Michigan Union, says he feels privileged to work with Rockburne. "You can't learn this in a school," he says.

A "practice" wall has been erected for the artists. "Each day conditions are different," Rockburne says. "You need to know how dry the surface is, how thin to mix the paint. You need to get a feel for the paint."

The mural will run from the east escalator to the west escalator, wrapping around the elevators on the way. The artists will be working through July 7 and welcome visitors to watch 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. They break for lunch 1-2 p.m.

Media Union gets high praise in Strings

"The new Media Union at the University of Michigan is probably without parallel in any other higher education institution in the country," writes Nancy Usher in the July/August issue of Strings magazine.

In an article titled "Maverick Schools in the Arts," Usher says that among the hundreds of schools that teach the arts, four stand out as particularly enterprising: the U-M, the California Institute of the Arts, Ohio State University and the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

The U-M and California, she notes, have "a broadly based definition of music and arts, emphasizing collaboration, diversifying degree programs, and stressing the limitless capacity of technology as a critical tool for the 21st-century artist."

The schools she cites in the article "have demonstrated a clear commitment to changing the academic environment---not a popular or easy task in the recalcitrant world of academe. And implicit in each program is the potential to change the way the arts are perceived and experienced by society."

"At each of these maverick institutions, the goal is to graduate what I call `real-world' arts professionals, or interdisciplinary scholars with an arts specialization," says Usher, a professor of music at the University of New Mexico.

Flexible degree plans help students integrate studies in the arts and other disciplines, Usher notes, adding that `the media-based degree plans are even more unusual at a traditional music school like Michigan's."

A bachelor's in music technology was created in the 1980s and two other programs were made official in 1993: a B.F.A. in performing arts technology and a dual degree in music and engineering.