Curious what impact the COVID-19 epidemic was having on significant artists around the state, the University of Michigan's Institute for the Humanities launched a streaming service with interviews, all of which are archived on its YouTube page.

(Just search for "University of Michigan Institute of Humanities.")

"House Calls: Virtual Studio Visits in a Pandemic" takes us into the homes of 10 artists statewide to chat about life, loss, lockdown and artistic production in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.

"As a team," said Institute Curator Amanda Krugliak, "we wondered what we could do that would bring us together when we're all so disconnected."

The resulting video interviews, funded with part of a three-year, $1.5 million Mellon Foundation grant underwriting the Institute's exhibitions and programming, range widely and give a nice peek into the zeitgeist of the creative class under extraordinary circumstances.

Each artist was paid $1,000 for the interviews, doubtless appreciated in these times of growing economic precariousness.

Krugliak calls the conversations, which run 30-45 minutes, "deconstructed gallery visits." Three institute staffers participate in every conversation, though sensibly limit their remarks and questions so the artists enjoy the limelight.

In addition to Krugliak, "House Calls" features Collaboration and Outreach Manager Angela Abiodun, and Juliet Hinely, the Institute's arts production coordinator.

Artists already interviewed include Sarah Rose Sharp, Sajeev Visweswaran, Judy Bowman, Mandy Cano Villalobos, Lavinia Hanachiuc, Rashaun Rucker, Yen Azzaro and Ricky Weaver. Yet to come Wednesday at 4 p.m. will be Ijania Cortez, and at the same time a week later on June 17, Levon Kafafian

The results so far, says Krugliak, have been delightfully surprising.

"Each artist lands on something you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to share, all about safety, security and hunkering down," she said.

Among other surprises, Detroit artist and writer Sharp, featured in the first episode, confessed that she "collects emergency-landing instruction cards from airplanes," Krugliak said. "She also talked about how much she valued saber-toothed tigers."

In the second installment, Ann Arbor artist Sajeev Visweswaran compared how he was doing to friends back in India, while Judy Bowman in Romulus detailed issues relating to her 93-year-old mother.

"The conversations," Krugliak said, "turned out to be much more about intimacy than we expected."

(313) 815-6410

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

Read or Share this story: