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Art & Soul: How Ypsi Art Center Director Deals With A Pandemic After Just A Few Months On The Job

Riverside Arts Center
Riverside Arts Center

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the local visual arts scene.  WEMU's Lisa Barry is joined by Omari Rush, executive director of CultureSource and Chair of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.  They talk with Elisa Guyton, executive director of the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, who has been working hard to keep the center connected to the community during a pandemic which began just a few months after she took over the job.

Elisa Guyton
Credit Riverside Arts Center /
Elisa Guyton, executive director of the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti.

Lisa, Omari, and Elisa talk about the healing elements of the arts and the importance of keeping connected during the current global health crisis.  Elisa details many efforts they have put online as the center remains closed during the pandemic.  She says there are several opportunities for artists to learn and create on the center website.  Guyton says they are working on plans on how to reopen safely but couldn't give an exact date on when that will be yet.


  • Riverside Arts Center
    Credit Riverside Arts Center /
    "Present: An Online Exhibit"
    "Present: An Online Exhibit"-- Artist or not, this exhibit is for everyone!  It is unjuried, and all submissions will be included.  We are seeking photographs of creative activities that people are doing to stay Present during this sudden and unsettling change of times. 

  • "Made in 60 Minutes" -- Features the work of 6 artists who shared a piece of art they created in just one hour, using common tools or supplies.  The artists were featured in a live, virtual event and viewers are invited to try the artists’ techniques at home.  All of the works are available for sale with all proceeds going to support Riverside Arts Center.

  • "Fly Creativity Toolkit" -- With this virus that has kept us feeling isolated, RAC would like to make our FLY Creativity Toolkit available to all who need a daily dose of creative inspiration, motivation, or just a little break!


  • "Explorer and Collector: Merging Art and Your Everyday Environment" -- Delve into art making within your everyday environment, by using the natural environment and materials within your home as the primary inspiration for creative activity. Consider becoming an explorer and collector to develop skills in not only creating art but also becoming more in touch with your surroundings.  Learn how to manipulate found objects, both artificial and natural to make multi-layered works of art.


  • "Powerful Portraits: Expressing Your Internal Reality" -- Discover new ways to create powerful portraits by exploring different methods of expressing your own internal reality.  Through a variety of mixed media, we will engage with local and regional artists to gain a deeper understanding of their creative processes.  This series will allow for artistic progress by building upon each previous project’s techniques and concepts.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
Omari Rush has a continually expanding role of service as both an artistic administrator and community leader, in part through his work as curator of public programs at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
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