Wayne State University Professor Marilyn Zimmerwoman shares her thoughts on the recent Temporary Contemporary Undergrad Exhibit.
Took place at Wayne State University
42 W Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
The following is a commentary by Professor Marilyn Zimmerwoman
“This was the most joy-filled undergraduate opening with students and their friends, family and alumni. This was the first semester in my several decades of teaching where the students eagerly asked at the end of the semester; “What’s next?” Many said that this was their most memorable classroom experience. What created the difference was that they were given from the beginning this collective collaborative commitment: to design, build and manage a portable sustainable gallery and exhibition.
This exhbit was to showcase the best photographs created by the students during this semester of darkroom practices. Students with natural management and problem solving brainstorming abilities came forward to lead. Wej-dan Be-Arma, Angelique Harrison, and Jena Smoyer were appointed to be the supervisory team. Wej-dan said that this class taught her a new model for her of constellating community in the classroom, of straight across communication and collegial mutual respect and cooperation among classmates replacing competition and hierarchical positioning.
I have known Aaron Timlin for several years, and our idea and commitment to a collaboration of a student designed, created and managed portable sustainable gallery that takes the art to the people was anchored in Chicago. We met at the Chicago EXPO (THE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION OF CONTEMPORARY & MODERN ART at Navy Pier) in the fall of 2014 and wanted to collaborate and this was what we decided upon.
Knowing Aaron is such a gift, as he has demonstrated for decades a commitment to this creative community, thinking outside the box, and facilitating collective collaborative efforts. This experience builds tools and ways of being of leadership, creating a supportive environment of allowing everyone to be in their expression of excellence. This is a unique kind of leadership where one is in service to others, and not acting from top down hierarchial leadership. Aaron and I share a history of collaborative creation and share an ideology of leadership through service. There is an Inuit word for leadership that simultaneously means follower, and that is “Maliktuk”. Thus a leader is someone who serves the people, who is sensitive to the needs of others and is a voice for the people. In leading Aaron and I were empowering the students to manifest their own leadership, innovative design, and creation of this now student run sustainable gallery. I credit and thank Aaron for this amazing experience and could not have manifested it without his vision which has forged so many other galleries in this community.
I had such a positive experience with the core group of these students in the fall with the first darkroom practices photography class that I knew I could continue with them on this venture. There was such camaraderie among them. I have studied and read a lot about leadership over the years and one of the means of leadership is to create an environment where everyone may come from their excellence. One provides a positive, supportive, enriching atmosphere was it is egalitarian and everyone is acknowledged straight across. Each person is encouraged to assist, explain, teach one another and no one is elevated above another. Our cultural shadow is narcissism, and sometimes that can get in the way.
With a cooperative collaborative atmosphere nurturing the collective spirit over the competitive, more is shared and a synergy of the best from each is ignited. There was so much support, encouragement, shared enthusiasm it slowly ignited the spirit and momentum of everyone. The means of having classes is primarily for the connection and conversation, and having an effect upon one another, being changed through the shared experience of exploration into the unknown. As our own revolutionary elder of social justice and progressive transformative evolutionary change reminds us, we do not become ourselves by ourselves.
To create this environment there was a natural law of attraction of those who were invested in this means of community as they were exposed to it from taking prior classes with me. And in reading about leadership it is wise to eliminate the negative; those who we not invested in knowing their classmates nor invested in personal growth as a means to cultural transformation. Wise leaders of social reform from MKL Jr. to bell hooks including Grace Lee Boggs have taught and reminded us of the two-fold means of cultural change–that is, personal growth leading to an effect socially around you.
One strives to become evermore conscious as a leading force empowering positive change which includes thinking beyond oneself and of the collective, which leads to incremental cultural change. This project taught not only the tools of expressing oneself through the visual communication of photography, it also inducted each student into increased personal confidence, potentiating leadership and tools for problem solving in collaborative creation. Through being involved in something larger than themselves alone, this collaborative project offered a more exciting process, a greater risk, a stronger compulsion for stretching into greater accomplishment and higher expectations of what was possible from themselves and of their classmates.” – Wayne State University Professor Marilyn Zimmerwoman
Thank you Professor Marilyn for sharing your commentary with zoomdune.com The following is a list of students who participated in the exhibit.
There were twenty-one photographer that participated in the exhibit: Ruwaida Ba-arma, Nicole Cieślik, Patrick Densmore, Miles Grandstaff, Angelique Harrison, Alaina Hatherley, Wejdan W. Ba-Arma, Scott Hinson, Alvin Holguin, Andrea Hull, Rola Kadi, Demetrius Mahone, Sean McQueeney, Idrees Mutahr, Angélica Pfluck, Jena Smoyer, Mhiles Tecson, Kaylah Thomas, Chris Washington, Pat White, and Tom White.
Please click on the featured video to view photographs from the event. For additional information please click on the hyperlinks/highlighted words contained with this article.