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U-M to install 3D interactive painting on Diag for commencement weekend

Mock-up of "Michigan Reflections" by Dave and Shelley Brenner. The anamorphic 3D painting will be installed on U-M's diag during commencement weekend.

ANN ARBOR – During spring commencement weekend each year, the Diag is packed with graduating students getting their picture with the famous "Block M," but this year, there will be something else that students and visitors alike can enjoy.

The university is installing an interactive 3D Michigan waterfall on the north side of the Diag. The painting will cover 16 feet by 36 feet of ground and will be displayed May 3 through 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Local husband-and-wife artist team Dave and Shelley Brenner have created the massive, 3D artwork. The Brenners are known for their large-scale sidewalk illusions and have been featured at street painting festivals around the world. 

The anamorphic 3D painting is titled "Michigan Reflections." 

Besides being members of Ann Arbor's artistic community, the Brenners have several ties to the university. A nurse anesthetist, Shelley Brenner holds two degrees from U-M Ann Arbor and a master's from U-M Flint. Native Alaskan and University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate Dave Brenner is the creative director at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability -- a position he has held for 11 years. 

"One of the things that I love about Ann Arbor is the nature aspect," he said in a statement. "I wanted to create a piece that reflected U-M, but also the natural beauty that surrounds the campus. The image of the stadium is emblematic of the university's energy and team spirit, and the Huron River reflects the delicate balance between the built environment and that of nature."

The painting features several reflections of some of the university's most iconic landmarks, including Rackham Auditorium, Burton Tower and the Law Library. The waters reflecting the building represent the Huron River. At the water's edge, a waterfall forms and empties into a 3D "Block M" located above the Michigan Stadium. 

If passersby stand at just the right point, they appear to be standing on rocks or grass to avoid "falling" into the body of water.

In addition to the landmarks, the Brenners turned to associate professor at SEAS MaryCarol Hunter to identify 19 native flowers to Michigan that bloom in the month of May. The flowers represent U-M's 19 schools and colleges and are painted around Michigan Stadium.

"While this year's installation offers yet another fun, engaging photo opportunity for our students and their families, it is also intended to inspire reflection, both upon their years at the University of Michigan—including what they post online, and what their future impact will be as a graduate of our institution," said Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media at U-M, in a statement. "This messaging is consistent with our ongoing social integrity campaign that promotes online authenticity and digital citizenship, especially in an age when fake news and digital harassment penetrate our social networks and online interactions."

In addition to the installation by U-M Social, visitors will be able to find a large 3D Block M installed by U-M Libary on the south side of the Diag where a professional photographer will be on site to take photos.

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