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Art, Diversity, and Connection at CultureVerse

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Michigan | 0 comments

On a beautiful Friday, June 9th, I joined Chuck at CultureVerse for the opening reception of “Embracing our Differences.” While Chuck was there to photograph the event, I was fueled by curiosity.


A Night of Art and Diversity and Inclusion at CultureVerse

Curiosity piqued and voice memo ready, I decided to document the experience, the intertwining of art, culture, and diversity. And you, my Dear Reader, are here with me, sharing this journey, your curiosity as evident as mine.



So, you might be scratching your head, thinking, “CultureVerse? What’s that?” In the simplest of terms, CultureVerse is a universe where art and culture intertwine, where opportunities for artists, educators, students, and preservationists expand, and their work is given a platform to inspire and ignite conversations.


Now, you might be wondering how an art exhibit at CultureVerse fits into the realm of “Life In Michigan.” I can see why you’d think that; after all, our usual fare is local life, beer, music, and a bit of travel. But when you look closer, you’ll see the lines blur. Both CultureVerse and Life In Michigan are dedicated to facilitating access to and sharing cultural, artistic, and local experiences. 

We’re storytellers, creating spaces where experiences, knowledge, and stories are shared, be it about the unique charm of Michigan or the global landscape of arts and culture.

While CultureVerse casts a wider net, aiming to support artists, educators, students, and preservationists more broadly, Life In Michigan, our cozy corner of the internet, has a more focused lens on Michigan’s lifestyle and local aspects.

Embracing Our Differences


And what about the exhibit “Embracing Our Difference“? It resonates with a mission that speaks to the heart: “Through the transformative power of the arts, we educate and inspire to create a better world. A world that embraces differences builds respect and celebrates the diversity of the human family.”

Indeed, if you squint a little, you can find overlaps between Life In Michigan and “Embracing our Difference – Michigan.” We’re both platforms celebrating and sharing the diverse experiences of life in Michigan, whether through art and education (EOD Michigan) or life experiences (Life In Michigan).

CultureVerse’s Exhibit

The event at CultureVerse showcases local artists from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in 2022 and 2023. It’s free and open to all until June 18th, making art and diversity accessible to everyone. The exhibits will be on display at Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park and Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park through October, and digital galleries from both years are also available for exploration:

The Event

After a bit of mingling, it was time for the main event. Everyone quieted as CultureVerse’s Executive Director, Aubrey Martinson, took the mic. She thanked their sponsors before sharing some pretty big news: “We are ending our tenure in this physical space in downtown Ann Arbor, and we are going to be a decentralized digital organization. We’re going be roaming around the state of Michigan.”


While the news soaked in, she passed the baton to Shanley Carlton, CultureVerse’s Digital Creative Lead & Solutions Architect, who took over as master of ceremonies. She dove into the details of their two-year partnership with Embracing Our Differences: “This is our second year. We’ve been building virtual galleries to display artwork. This year we actually built a virtual gallery of all students’ submitted artwork.


If you’re unfamiliar with embracing our differences, they have judges that pick artwork that’s submitted around a topic around diversity, and then the artwork gets blown up and put into public parks.

Some student artwork is submitted but not selected. We created a gallery that showcased all students submitted artwork, which is really awesome. The kids really liked it because they got to play with an iPad. We’ve also done some other things that are embracing our differences around creating immersive experiences.” 


The Artists

The attention then shifted to the artists themselves. Terrance Hinton, one of the featured artists, was called upon to share his inspiration: “I wanted to be not just diversified by color but also diversified by size. Look at me. I wanted to look at every type of job aspect. Like the hard workers, the one is overlooked.”


Mahfouz Ilham, another artist, spoke about her piece, touching on the universal theme of relationships: “It could be a friend, a partner, or be family, or any kind of relationship.”


With her husband’s encouragement, Kellye Kozloff shared her piece, “Self Perception.” She eloquently described the concept behind her art, “The top half signifies what we all have within us—all of ourselves. We are full of a spectrum of beliefs, of feelings, of quirks. We have the potential to be anything. But what we are perceived as is what we will share. What other people will see, what other people don’t even see in terms of it. They don’t even register it. And then what they reflect upon us of themselves.”


Her words were met with a hearty round of applause.

Nancy Margolis

Nancy Margolis, the Executive Director of Embracing Our Difference–Michigan, closed out the evening. She thanked everyone for coming and thanked CultureVerse for their partnership. She encouraged us all to schedule a guided tour of the exhibits.


Outdoor Installation 

After the reception at CultureVerse, we were so intrigued we just had to see the outdoor installation. So, on Saturday, we took a leisurely stroll through the exhibit at Gallup Park. The art, the messages, the celebration of diversity – it was all there, laid bare under the open sky. And you can be sure we’ll be checking out the Riverside exhibit soon!


Dear Reader

And so, my Dear Reader, this is the tale of Friday at the CultureVerse. The evening was filled with revelations, inspiration, and a celebration of diversity, art, and human connections. We left with a deeper understanding of the power of art to express, communicate, and inspire and a renewed appreciation for the diverse experiences that shape life in Michigan.


So, here’s to the intersections of art, culture, and life and the shared experiences that make us all uniquely human. Here’s to Embracing our Differences, CultureVerse, and Life In Michigan. I hope this journey has been as enriching for you as it has been for me, and I can’t wait to share more. Until then, keep exploring, keep questioning, and keep embracing our differences!



More pictures from the Cultureverse Embracing Our Differences exhibit are in our gallery. Be sure to visit and let us know what you think.

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