New Student Exhibition in Park Library Celebrates Marginalized Identities in Folk Music 

Did you know that Park Library hosts a student exhibition space on the third floor across from the Writing Center? This area offers a wonderful opportunity for student artists to gain the experience of putting together a professional quality exhibition and display a collection of their work publicly. It can be used for solo exhibitions, group projects, collaborative work, or whole class project displays. 

Do yourself a favor and make sure to check out the wonderful work that is currently on display – an exhibition by artist Gray Reynolds, entitled Grace Notes: A Celebration of Marginalized Identities in American Folk Music. This highly-considered and striking exhibition of embroidered linocut portraits includes not only two-dimensional prints, but a virtual experience where viewers can scan QR codes to listen to the music of each music artist depicted. Gray has created a clean and well-designed website to accompany the work so that the work can be viewed from near and far. If you are local, please come experience these beautiful works in person. 

About the Artist  

Gray Reynolds (they/them) is a queer, disabled printmaker and musician who grew up in the Michigan folk community. They have spent the past 2 decades surrounded by the music, dance, and traditional arts created by the community, and these art forms are a major inspiration in their own work. Currently, they are studying anthropology and art at Central Michigan University, with focuses on cultural anthropology and printmaking, respectively. This project is their Honors Capstone and is their first exhibition. Funding for the project came from the Central Michigan University Honors Program and the Office of Research and Creative Studies. 

About the artwork 

Grace Notes: A Celebration of Marginalized Identities in American Folk Music aims to honor musicians and dancers in the American folk music tradition who hold identities that have been historically marginalized and excluded from the larger narrative of American folk music. It also aims to question what styles of art are considered “true art” and are allowed in gallery and museum spaces by utilizing techniques from the folk-art tradition. This series of linocut and embroidery portraits and their accompanying audio challenge widely held views of the American folk community and its art forms and provides viewers with an opportunity to engage with various aspects of the American folk tradition. This series of portraits draws attention to the contributions that members of these groups have made to American folk music in the past and continue to make in the present and honors the community and its art. Often, when people think of “folk music,” the image that comes to mind is that of a white working man, presumably straight, playing a banjo or a fiddle and situated in a mythic rural past. This version of the American folk both ignores the historical reality and casts it as a dead, archaic tradition. These portraits of active members of the American folk music tradition are a celebration of a living tradition, its evolution, and the joy, diversity, and vibrancy of the American folk experience.  

Find more of Gray’s work at:  

@gray_reynolds on Instagram or on their website Gray Reynolds Art

“About the Artist” and “About the Art” written by Gray Reynolds 

For questions about this exhibition or about the Student Exhibition Space, contact Exhibition Coordinator, Denise Fanning or 989. 774.2165 

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