Tag Archives: Cranbrook

130 Ash Arder

Born Flint, MI, 1988 / BA,  University of Michigan; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit, MI

Can you grow an apple with an Apple? Can you ever really describe the wind? These are the sort of questions – often at the intersection of culture and agriculture, and at the boundary between the digital and the physical – with which Ash Arder likes to engage. Her investigations are esoteric but allude to something universal. Trained in media studies, Arder uses art, with its essentially undisciplined relationship to knowledge, to explore the world she has been born into.  

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127 Alison Wong

Born: 1982, BFA: Maryland Institute College of Art, MFA: Cranbrook Academy of Art; Lives in Detroit, MI

A painting by Alison Wong typically represents the most ordinary things—a square of tissue and small scraps of crumbled wallpaper (Tissue Tears, 2018), or a dog’s mangled chew toy (Tattered and Torn, 2018). The painting technique is virtuosic, and the materials are the stuff of high art. She applies the paint thinly, layered, wet-into-wet; one delicate, detailed area at a time. The small scale of the works, objects depicted close to their actual size, deny any heroic, monumentalizing impulse. Why, one wonders, does she lavish so much effort on something so ordinary, so insignificant? But this questioning is right where she wants us.

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124 Emmy Bright

Born New Haven, CT, 1977 / BA, University of Chicago / Ed. M, Harvard Graduate School of Education / MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Prints, performances, drawings and zines: Emmy Bright’s work emerges from an organic process of notational delirium. Post-It notes fan out and curl, bridged by scribbled lines, insistent arrows, underlining, highlighting, and circled text fragments—thoughts redacted and reclaimed. The smell of a Sharpie lingers. A palimpsest of equations forms. Pages are taped together to expand space for addenda. Much of Bright’s imagery begins as something she terms “stupids”—diagrammatic jottings that employ slapdash methodology to disrupt normative thinking and jumpstart philosophical inquiry. For her, profundity can reside beneath that which we dismiss as idiocy. When examined, a moment of stupidity may reveal latent, meaningful instincts. With humorous schemata that collide the rational and the irrational, Bright fleshes out the absurdity of the behavioral structures we rely upon to govern our relationships with ourselves and one another.

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118 Iris Eichenberg

Born Gottingen, Germany, 1965 / Graduate degree from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam/ Lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Both comical and strangely melancholic, two small wooden house shapes attached to a wall are topped, incongruously, by sand bags with patches of wooly embroidery. They make an odd couple, like Oscar and Felix: alike yet unalike, dissonant and consonant, together yet separate. At once amusing and serious, they convey a searching spirit that permeates Iris Eichenberg’s work, which often meditates on making home and finding our place in the world. Related in some way to the body, her constructions produce sensorial and emotional effects that stretch conventional boundaries to explore structures of feeling.

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111 William Marcellus Armstrong

Born 1987, Baltimore, Maryland/ BA, Lincoln University, PA; MFA Cranbrook Academy of Art/ Lives in Detroit

Entering the former industrial space of 333 Midland’s Annex Gallery, visitors can make out a magenta and turquoise-lighted dance floor peeking from behind a partition of silvery mylar streamers. Within, participants dance together to techno and ghettotech beneath door frames reminiscent of street stoops, and are encouraged to use the video cameras that interdisciplinary artist William Marcellus Armstrong—inspired by Latin America’s democratic, revolutionary, moviemaking movement known as Third Cinema—has provided. Prizes are awarded to the best dancers, all of whom are children. This live-taped event and performance-cum-social practice video is The 48203 Dance Show (2018). Continue reading

103 Jetshri Bhadviya

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Born 1992, Udaipur, India / BFA, American University in Dubai, UAE / MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Madison Heights, MI

Detroit-based multimedia artist Jetshri Bhadviya is profoundly concerned with technique. She’s lived much of her life steeped in it; entering her studio, you’re confronted by exquisite prints of her photographic work, crystalline recordings of her expansive, layered sound pieces, and (perhaps surprisingly, since she tends not to exhibit them) rows of well-executed oil paintings. Bhadviya grew up studying Kathak, a form of classical Indian dance. She is an avid student of history, religion, science, and gender. She is fluent in Hindi and English, and has studied Sanskrit.

But from this vast, rich education, Bhadviya has arrived at an understanding of technique’s dead end. Just as she’s hopped continents in pursuit of higher education and career, so has she sought to transcend the foundations of technical mastery to create a language, a practice, that is entirely hers. Bhadviya arranges archives of everyday sounds into staggering sonic maps, meticulously arranges signs in her still images to awaken ideas about gender, identity and place while uncannily canceling them out, and cloaks herself in swaths of confining fabrics for her performance work, crafting a balance between sophisticated and primordial, sensual and asexual, observant and blind.

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89 Sophie Eisner

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Born​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​NY,​ ​1985​ ​/​ ​BA​, ​Carleton​ ​College​ ​/​ ​MFA,​ ​Cranbrook​ ​Academy​ ​of​ ​Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI ​/​ ​Lives​ ​in​ ​Detroit

Sophie​ ​Eisner​ ​is​ ​not​ ​from​ ​Detroit,​ ​and​ ​does​ ​not​ ​put​ ​on​ ​airs​ ​about​ ​it.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​young​ ​artist​ ​who moved​ ​to​ ​the​ ​area​ ​in​ ​2013​ ​and​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Motor​ ​City​ ​in​ ​2015,​ ​she​ ​thinks​ ​it’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​do​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of listening.​ ​Eisner​ travels ​extensively,​ having ​just​ ​recently​ returned, for instance, ​from Mongolia.​ ​Wherever​ ​she​ ​goes​ ​and​ ​whatever​ ​she​ ​makes​ ​there,​ ​she​ ​brings​ ​elements​ ​from​ ​her childhood​ ​home​ in ​New​ ​York​ ​City​ with ​her.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ notable ​qualities of​ ​Eisner’s practice​ ​is​ ​her​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​take​ ​a​ ​familiar​ ​object​ ​in​ ​a​ ​familiar​ ​place,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​the​ ​pink tiles​ ​in​ ​the​ ​bathroom​ ​of​ ​her​ ​studio,​ ​and​ use ​materials​, such as pigmented silicone, ​to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​the​ object ​from​ ​a​ ​different perspective. By presenting this same object with different materials and shape, Eisner invites the viewer to recall that they have seen this object somewhere before, and to wonder where. Eisner’s work gives viewers a fuzzy feeling of familiarity.

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86 Laith Karmo

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Born Royal Oak, MI, 1980 / BFA, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI / Lives in Bloomfield Hills, MI

Unpacking the practice of ceramist Laith Karmo is perhaps best expedited by focusing on the polar goals of his aesthetic evolution over the last decade and a half. First up are the brash, jazzy, chromatically shiny abstract sculptures presented in his first solo show in 2008, and then, post-2009, the gradual embrace over the next several years of the proverbial, evergreen forms (pots, bowls, ewers) and muted tonalities of his “objects of utility and contemplation.”

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81 Lauren Semivan

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Born Detroit, 1981/BA, Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin/MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan/Lives in Hamtramck, Michigan

Lauren Semivan’s enigmatic, tour de force black and white photographs—no color, no digital—are shot with an early 20th century, large-format, tripod-mounted camera. The realization of her mystifying tableaus entails sheets of film, reams of negatives, and even the use of a home darkroom. Semivan’s retardataire, hands-on practice is akin to other recent throwbacks that captivate millennials and boomers alike, including old fashioned acoustic instruments, vinyl, and flip phones.

Semivan’s images are, however, quintessentially contemporary inventions. Despite the cumbersome, antique equipment, her interdisciplinary mosaics of abstraction, process and performative procedures, staged (or set-up) scenes, and her pictorial perception of the oft thrumming tensions between conscious and subconscious states of mind, yield psychodramas at once rational and irrational. Her artist statements, albeit tinged with surrealist overtones, reiterate the unease aroused by her photographs: “The images often contain something of the everyday to ground them, juxtaposed with something extraordinary or out of the world to set them free from the realm of the everyday. I use my own body within the work to anchor the images within a place of dreams and personal emotions.” Decidedly not the lingo of a straight or “decisive moment” photographer. Her teachers at Wisconsin’s Lawrence University, Julie Lindemann and John Shimon, plus critic Lyle Rexer (The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, 2009), were particularly influential on the evolution of Semivan’s sensibility.

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75 Tiff Massey

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Born Detroit, 1982 / BS, Eastern Michigan University; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Tiff Massey is an artist whose explanations for her work often defy your overeducated readings. The recurring motifs of head-wearables and hair, for example, are not something the artist relates to Carrie Mae Weems, but rather Massey’s wide-ranging experiences of Detroit.  After a few of these negated readings, you learn to keep inferences to yourself, rather than risk being corrected.

Massey wears many of her own pieces. Her Cranbrook Academy training as a metalsmith includes the craft of a fine jeweler. While out at Detroit galleries and in her signature videos for her 2015 Kresge Arts in Detroit fellowship and the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Massey can be seen wearing a large brass ring on her right hand. The ring looks a bit like an architectural model of a skyscraper. The Joe Louis fist and the Renaissance Center skyline—two metonyms for the city of Detroit—now dialogue with each other in my mind

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74 Andrew Thompson

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Born Kansas City, MO 1981 / BFA, Kansas City Art Institute; MFA, Cranbrook / Lives in Detroit

Andrew Thompson considers art to be his “life organizing principle.” It is, for example, how he researches topics that interest him, how he collaborates with people he likes, how he remains untroubled by the question of what to do with surplus funds, and even how he investigates traumatic events from his past. Thompson believes there is no inherent meaning in life, and hence we must all create meaning for ourselves and those around us. It is a philosophy that propels him along a creative path of his own design, free from the careerist moves often considered essential in the game of being an artist. Continue reading

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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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

26 Shanna Merola

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Born Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1980 / BFA Virginia Commonwealth University, MFA Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Hamtramck, Michigan

It is a foundational concern of Shanna Merola’s that all of her work be firmly embedded in its historical context. Observance and urgent communication of moments of injustice are the center of her personal, professional, and artistic life. Continue reading

18 Elizabeth Youngblood

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Born Detroit, 1952 / BFA, University of Michigan; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Elizabeth Youngblood’s work combines great personality and remarkable restraint. Typically starting from a monochrome palette and the repeated graphical element of the line, she has utilized her dexterity with fiber, wire, ceramics, drawing, and paper to quietly produce a visually coherent body of work that has continued to evolve over a period of several decades.

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14 Susan Goethel Campbell

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Born Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1956 / BFA, Alma College;  MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Huntington Woods, Michigan

Field Guide was the name of a recent show at Oakland University by Susan Goethel Campbell that included selections from several major bodies of work, spanning an array of media, including video, prints, and sculpture, and more than a decade of artistic efforts. The show’s title is fitting in many respects. First, a field guide acts as an index for the natural world, introducing the viewer to flora, fauna, and other recognizable patterns in a specific environment—which is the general subject of Campbell’s work. With various “movements” concerning air, pollen, turf, and leaf samples—to name a few—Campbell meticulously tracks the natural world at work.

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07 Corine Vermeulen

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Born Gouda, the Netherlands, 1977 / BFA, The Design Academy, Eindhoven; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Photographer Corine Vermeulen’s meticulously constructed projects, such as Your Town Tomorrow (Detroit, 2007–12), The Walk-in Portrait Studio (Detroit, 2009–14), and Obscura Primavera (Medelin, Colombia, 2009–14), reflect an artist willing to devote significant periods of time to, and seriously immerse herself in, her subject. Her works display an exemplary combination of empathy for their subjects and a very European sense of distance. The resulting images are instantly recognizable while remaining constantly surprising in their freshness.

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