Leah O’Donnell is a writer, choreographer and dancer. She has contributed articles and reviews to Dance Spirit Magazine, Detroit Metro Times, Ann Arbor Observer, DancePulp, and The University of Michigan’s Confucius Institute. As a dancer, Leah performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Saturday Night Live, Beyoncé, and more. She has created choreographic works for The Michigan Opera, Wayne State University, NewDANCEfest, and the ACDA Northeast conference gala.
Mariwyn Curtin explores cities extensively on bike or on foot and documents the experiences in artists’ books or abstractly as “industrial embroidery” assembled from ephemera found along the way. An author and editor primarily in educational publishing and testing, she is happiest writing about art. She previously interviewed ten award-winning photographers about their craft to write the copy for Hasselblad Masters. Vol. 2 Emotion.
LaToya Cross is an arts and culture writer and producer whose work has been featured by WDET 101.9FM – Detroit’s NPR Station, Essay’d, EBONY, JET, SouthSideWeekly.com, and blkcreatives.com She is passionate about highlighting creatives using their platform to shift, shape and analyze culture through an artistic lens.
Vince Carducci is a cultural critic and publisher of the blog Motown Review of Art. He has written on a range of subjects, from the visual and literary arts to popular and consumer culture, politics, and the media for the academic and trade press. In 2010, he received a Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Arts Fellowship. He currently serves as Dean of Undergraduate Studies at College for Creative Studies in Detroit.
Ryan Standfest is an artist, arts writer, and the editor and publisher of Rotland Press, which presents satirical publications of a culturally relevant nature. His publications and prints are in numerous major collections, and his work has been exhibited widely, both in the United States and abroad. Standfest has penned articles for the Detroit arts and culture journal Infinite Mile, contributed an essay on the artist Jim Chatelain for the book Cass Corridor: Connecting Times, and currently writes for the online website Detroit Art Review.
Saylor Soinski is an educator in Southwest Detroit. She is interested in the intersection of arts and advocacy, especially as a means for elevating youth voices. She teaches high school English and coaches a spoken word poetry team made up of exceptionally kind and clever students.
Felix Rucker is studying philosophy and science-fiction literature at the University of Michigan. She is interested in the various ways in which technology and humans can merge, and has been published in the arts magazine Contemporary And (C&).
Olivia Gilmore is a Detroit-based arts writer on leave from the city to pursue her master’s degree in History and Philosophy of Art at the University of Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture. She holds an undergraduate degree in photography. Her interests lie in the interstices between art, philosophy, urban design, and social engagement. In addition to writing for Essay’d, her work has been published in Detroit Art Review, Contemporary And (C&), and TagTagTag Mag.
Timothy van Laar is a Detroit visual artist and writer. The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Illinois State Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art have collected his work. He has co-authored four books, including Artworld Prestige: Arguing Cultural Value. Fulbright, Yaddo, the Howard Foundation, and the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft are among the institutions that have supported his creative activities. He received his MFA degree from Wayne State University, is Professor of Art Emeritus at the University of Illinois, and more recently served as Chair of Fine Arts at the College for Creative Studies.
Poet, essayist, and educator Dr. Terry Blackhawk is the founding director (1995-2015) of InsideOut Literary Arts Project. A former blogger for Detroit Huffington Post, Blackhawk’s eight poetry titles include the John Ciardi prize-winner Escape Artist (BkMk Press, 2003), The Light Between (Wayne State University Press, 2012), and two chapbooks from Ridgeway Press. Kirkus Reviews named her One Less River (Mayapple Press, 2019) a Best Indie Poetry book of the year. She is a 2013 Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellow and currently divides her time between Detroit and her family in Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Nancy J. Rodwan
Jonathan Rajewski is an artist and writer. He received a BA in Philosophy from Michigan State University and is a 2021 MFA Candidate in Painting at the Yale School of Art. Select exhibitions include Marlborough (New York), Jack Hanley (New York) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. His writing has appeared in Mousse Magazine, The Exhibitionist (MIT Press), and Essay’d. He is the co-founder of the Hamtramck Free School and co-facilitates writing and visual art workshops in prisons throughout Michigan. He lives between Hamtramck, Michigan and New Haven, Connecticut.
Gary Freeman has long enjoyed the output of local Detroit artists and the galleries that show them. He has written for English-language news publications in Thailand, appeared in and helped produce local low-budget indie flicks such as After the Blood Rush and The Amazing Cynicalman, has written a satirical novel on the funeral industry as well as numerous short stories and “minicomics,” the latter of which he encourages everyone, especially kids, to do because everyone encounters something interesting or funny every day and everyone can draw well enough for a minicomic.
Nadja Rottner is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University in 2009. She writes in the fields of American and Latin American art after 1945, with an emphasis on the intersections between the visual and the performing arts of music, theater, dance, and film. She has written for journals such as Oxford Art Journal, Modern Drama, Konsthistorisk Tidskrift: Journal of Art History, Artforum International, and others. She is currently at work on a book on the intermedia poetry, performances, sculptures, and films of Claes Oldenburg.
Allegra Rosenbaum is a creative non-fiction writer. She has written for a variety of publications including the Asymptote Blog, Essay’d, and others. She enjoys writing about French literature, 19th century and contemporary art, and public transit. Allegra currently works in digital marketing, but is also working on a longer-form memoir.
Xavier S. Talvela is a life-figure and photography model who employs story-telling elements and a knowledge of classical art in his practice. He holds a BA in Communications, an MA in Philosophy and an MA in Art History. In addition to modeling, he has worked in a psychiatric hospital and as a personal trainer, and has a deep interest in art’s therapeutic value when dealing with grief and loss. A member of the Naturist Society Foundation, he advocates body positivity and an end to body shaming. Photo credit: Lights On Studio, Lansing, MI
Heather Earnley has taught art and design at over 50 schools and community centers in Detroit, and organized art exhibitions at numerous local galleries and institutions, She currently works for a local theatre group designing all of their promotional material. In her leisure time, Heather writes, makes art, and watches movies.
Morgan Meis writes about art and culture for such magazines as The New Yorker, n+1, Harper’s Magazine, and Slate. He founded an arts collective in New York City called Flux Factory, was the editor of the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal at The New School, and is currently an editor at 3Quarksdaily. He was critic-at-large for The Smart Set from 2007-2015 and is a contributor at The New Yorker. He taught classes on art and philosophy of art at Drexel University and Moore College of Art and Design and at CCS currently.
Dora Apel is a cultural critic, arts writer, and art historian who has written about traumatic imagery and memory, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, cities and ruins. She is the author of six books, including Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline (2015) and Calling Memory into Place (fall 2020).She is the W. Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary Art History in the Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University.
Shirley Woodson is an artist, art educator, curator, collector and a founding member of the National Conference of Artists Michigan. She is a MacDowell Colony and ConFaba Fellow, and held art residencies at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, as well as the Brandywine Printmaking Workshop and Archives in Philadelphia. Her writings have appeared in the International Review of African American Art, MidMarch Arts Press, along with the publications of Morgan State University, Marygrove College, NCA Michigan and others. Woodson also served as an illustrator for Broadside Press. Current projects include preparation of an exhibition of her abstract drawings.
V. Mitch McEwen is an assistant professor of Architecture at Princeton University. She is the co-founder of A(n) Office, an architecture collaborative of studios in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. A(n) Office projects have been commissioned by the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. McEwen’s projects in Detroit have produced a series of operations on houses previously owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. These include a strategy for 100 houses selected by the City of Detroit to densify the neighborhood of Fitzgerald, and an award-winning repurposing of a balloon-frame house titled House Opera.