Ann Arbor exhibit to feature local and international art made during COVID-19 pandemic

"Work with what's in the room" was the motto Ann Arbor-based performance artist and curator Anya Klapischak learned in her theatrical training. Recently, she applied the principle of using what was available to her — in this case, hashtags and social media — to call for submissions to "What Feels Real: Art in the Time of Impossible Disconnect," a group exhibition of works created during the pandemic. The show, presented by Klapischak's artist residency, The Hosting, runs May 21-22 at StudioStudio, 1946 Packard St. in Ann Arbor. 

"In a lot of the conversations I was having in the beginning stages of quarantine, the idea of 'This doesn't feel real,' what we were collectively enduring, was so surreal," Klapischak says. "I began to wonder what was on the other side of that."

For Klapischak, one-on-one dialogue with artists is a cornerstone of curatorial practice.

"It was clear that the need for in-person connection was dominant. And what better way to experiment with human connection than an experimental, all-mediums art show?" says Klapischak of the conversations she had with the show's applicants.

Viewers of "What Feels Real" will see textiles and sculpture, but Klapischak says they'll also be "confronted with forms they may not be so familiar with — some installed bodies, anonymous dance pieces."

"The most impactful experiences I've had were the ones where I felt transported to a space I'd never seen before," Klapischak says. "I try to encourage that in how I activate spaces when I'm putting on an art show." 

"What Feels Real" incorporates work by 23 artists who are based in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit, as well as international artists hailing from as far away as Germany. 

"The pandemic has helped them realize what's at stake," Klapischak says. "Embodied creative practice over the last 12 months has become such a lifeline for individuals. That's what has become apparent in curating the show: in the stark isolation of quarantine, these artists felt their practice as a necessity to the quality of their life, and not just a fringe luxury."

"What Feels Real: Art in the Time of Impossible Disconnect" runs May 21-22. Click here to purchase tickets for timed viewings. 

For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.

Jeanne Hodesh is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor, where she covers small business, food, and culture. She holds an MFA from Hunter College. Her essays and articles have appeared in Lenny Letter, The Hairpin, and Time Out New York, among other publications.

Images courtesy of Anya Klapischak.
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