All posts by Essay'd

52 Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope

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Gina Reichert, Born Cincinnati, OH, 1974 / BArch, Tulane University, MArch, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Mitch Cope, Born Detroit, 1973 /  BA, Center for Creative Studies; MFA, Washington State University /  Lives in Detroit

There are effectively two periods in the recent history of Detroit art: before and after the publication of “For Sale: The $100 House,” the now infamous 2009 New York Times article that extolled the creative possibilities of minimally priced Detroit real-estate by relating the experiences of Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope, the couple behind art/architecture practice Design 99, and the artist-run, neighborhood-based nonprofit Power House Productions. After the article was published the pair were deluged with interview requests, and with e-mails from artists around the world requesting information on how to move to Detroit and participate. They decided that for a period of two months they would try to answer every media approach they received. At the end of that period their lives were irreversibly changed, and if the truth be told, so was the narrative of Detroit art. Continue reading

49 Marcelyn Bennett-Carpenter

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Born Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971/BA, Wheaton College, Illinois; BFA, University of Colorado at Denver; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art/Lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Marcelyn Bennett-Carpenter would like for you, the viewer, to be involved. Engagement with her work, ideally, goes beyond aesthetic appreciation; her pieces are designed for physical interaction: wearing, blowing, navigating, and especially stretching. Tension is the fundamental quality of weaving; as a fiber artist, accomplished weaver, and instructor at Cranbrook’s Kingswood Weaving and Fiber Art Studio, Bennett-Carpenter’s work is fraught with a baseline tension that is belied at first blush by soft palettes and inviting surfaces.

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48 Jason Murphy

 

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Born Detroit, 1976 / BA, Bennington College; MFA, Columbia University / Lives in Hamtramck

There is a chrysalis-like flux in the recent artworks of Jason Murphy. You feel it in the roughness of his constructions, as if we’ve interrupted a process, caught something between stages, or found artwork paused mid-construction. You find it in the vacillation of materials, a bit precarious and unstable, with histories and symbolism referencing building, but also breakdown, negligence, and accident. This is artwork precise and unstable, beautiful but a bit unsettling. Continue reading

46 Megan Heeres

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Born Battle Creek, MI, 1979 / BA, University of Michigan; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Megan Heeres’s Invasive Paper Project is, in principle, quite simple: participants take vegetable matter from invasive plants, such as Phragmites, Honeysuckle, and Garlic Mustard, and use it to create paper. Continue reading

44 Addie Langford

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Born Louisville, Kentucky, 1974/BFA, Rhode Island School of Design; MFA, Cranbrook/Lives in Detroit

Four years into an architectural program at RISD, Addie Langford found herself confronting a hard truth: she missed making things. All the theoretical design emphasis in her formal studies could not replace the importance of the hands-on process of creation that had always been a fundamental part of her practice.

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42 Jessica Frelinghuysen

 

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Born Bryn Mawr, Pa, 1980 / BFA, Rhode Island School of Design; MArch, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Hamtramck

Art, it’s been said, is often about taking something small, and making a really big deal out of it. For Jessica Frelinghuysen, that initial seed is the minutiae of social interaction – the tiny events that individually are of little consequence, but that collectively make up the fabric of any society. Continue reading

40 Greg Fadell

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Born Detroit, 1970 / BA, University of Michigan / Lives in Clarkston, Michigan

Greg Fadell’s work and his persona can be seen as a series of deliberate choices. The work of some artists begins and ends within the frame, but for Fadell, wall, lighting, surfaces, and gallery are just as important as the pieces he brings to hang…and all that before his attention to the forces that shape the art world itself. Every aspect of Fadell’s practice is deeply considered, even those that might read as casual or irreverent vestiges of his early pro-skater career and personal aesthetic. His body of work draws in the viewer with its ostensible simplicity, but ask an informed question and be astonished by the volubility and the substance of his answer.

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39 Olayami Dabls

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Born Canton, MS, 1948 / Studies in Mechanical Engineering and Art, Wayne State University / Lives in Detroit

Olayami Dabls’ sprawling outdoor installation at Grand River and West Grand Boulevard verges on a world where America rushes by, cocooned in tons of rusting metal – in other words it overlooks Interstate 96. Dabls knows that world. He trained as a mechanical engineer, and worked as a draftsman for Chevrolet Motors. Then in 1975 he had a serious car accident that hospitalized him for three years. During that time he turned to painting (his minor in college) as an escape from the constant physical and psychic pain. He left the hospital and never looked back, taking stints with the original African-American museum, and various theater companies, before eventually founding a gallery with his wife. Around 1998 he moved to the present location, starting the African Bead Museum that carries his name, and transitioning from an artist/gallerist to an educator/storyteller. Continue reading

38 Patrick Burton

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Born Detroit / BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; MLS University of Detroit / Lives in Detroit

“perchance,” “we two,” “yesterdays,” and “wouldja wouldja” are a few of the words that embellish and echo across Patrick Burton’s richly ornate paintings. Their plaintive and conditional overtones urge a viewer—albeit in low key, lower case font—to wonder: “perchance” what? “we two” who? “wouldja wouldja” do what? Nestled here and there (center top or bottom, lower or upper right) and incised or raised slightly above the surface, these messages are of a piece with the soft, silvery pastels and three dimensional blossoms, hearts, leaves, fronds, and vines that proliferate across Burton’s low relief compositions. Continue reading

36 Ben Hall

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Born Detroit, 1977 BFA, Bennington College; MFA, Columbia University Lives in Hamtramck, Michigan

I am trying the least-hard to be an artist of anyone you’ve met,” says Ben Hall, by way of contextualizing art in the diverse constellation of his interests and responsibilities. Like most things Hall says, there are varying degrees of truth to this complicated matter. Fanatical about language, obsessive about details, and meticulous in his planning, Hall is clearly moving toward something with great determination—and that something includes receiving an MFA from one of the country’s most prestigious universities. But a deeper look at the projects and lifestyle infrastructure that Hall has constructed indicate that he is not, as he says, trying to “be an artist,” and especially not trying to make things that “look like art.” Rather, art is just one of a number of mechanisms—one with which, it must be noted, he manipulates with dexterity—that he’s using to drive toward bigger priorities. Continue reading