170 Jerdein Kirkland

Born Detroit, 1952 / Lives in Oak Park, MI

Jerdein Kirkland has the swag of Detroit-raised women who work hard and play hard, fedora cocked ace-deuce. She is a reflection of her art: a single loc, wrapped with sequined beads, dips past her knees, loops back up, tucks into a back pocket. Her clothes and jewelry are similarly embellished, with bespangled trim suggestive of craft stores, urban boutiques and hair shows—apropos, for in fact, she spent years selling her jewelry, and is a long-time hairdresser. Her collage paintings (her “Baby Girl” series, not pictured here) sparkle with bling, reminiscent of assemblage artist David Philpot (the late husband of this writer, and the subject of Essay’d installment #50); her “outsider” presence in the arts is reminiscent of him, too.

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169 Amy Fisher Price

Born New York City, NY, 1980 / BFA, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago / Lives in Detroit

When you’re playing bass in a Bikini Kill cover band in high school, you need the right outfits to complete the sound. Amy Fisher Price didn’t know where to buy matching leopard-skin fits for the band, so she made them herself. Since that punk rock origin story, the sewing machine has never been far from her side. It’s an attitude and ethos that runs throughout her work to this day.

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168 Paul Verdell

Born in Long Beach, CA, 1991/ BA, Bowling Green State University/ Lives in Detroit

In “All Falls Down,” arguably one of the best singles Ye has released, he raps, “We tryna buy back our 40 acres…” Thematically, the song is about a plethora of issues, such as the inherent sadness of loss, the false promise of the “American dream,” insecurities faced by Black people, and Eurocentric ideas of beauty. But in that simple line, derived from General Sherman’s 1865 Field Order that formerly enslaved people would receive 40 acres of confiscated Confederate land and a mule, Ye focuses on potential, and a desire to rebuild. In doing so, he touches upon the importance of hope and making space for speculative fictions, for narratives to unfold, and for people to dream.

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167 Suraj Bhamra

Born Windsor, ON, 1989 / BA, MA, PhD (Electrical Engineering), Oakland University / Lives in Pontiac, MI

It’s easy, in the age of deepfakes, algorithm-driven advertising, and compulsive, desensitized scrolling, to wonder if photography is dead. Or perhaps the right word is undead, as in drained of life, reanimated, and enlisted in the daily struggle for the priceless commodity of our attention.

But if the situation looks grim through the smudged screens of our mobile devices, all it takes is a real-world encounter with photographs like Suraj Bhamra’s to remember that the 200-year-old art form is not only alive and well, it’s doing essential work in our troubled times. Bhamra’s output is a refreshing reminder that at its best, photography can help counteract the dissociative effects of contemporary experience by bringing viewers closer to life as it’s actually lived.

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166 Scott Berels

Born Royal Oak, MI, 1983 / BFA Wayne State University / Lives in Detroit

Encountering Scott Berels’ work feels like a meditation on the nature of nature, a practice whose foremost concern is observation, drawing inspiration from the physical world to contemplate the phenomenon of being. Approaching 40, the painter and sculptor has already devoted half of his life to visual art, creating for his own enjoyment while also undertaking commissions for large-scale public sculptures. In each stage of his career, he has skillfully investigated materiality and the rituals of creation. But Berels doesn’t simply pause to marvel when considering nature’s ontology, he also probes its linguistic consistency to understand the messages it conveys. Through repetition and tessellations, patterns and geometric forms, the artist engages what he calls “an ancestral language,” the grammar of the ineffable that speaks through stone formations, a grove of trees, or “the brush of a plant’s frond over dry soil.”

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Metro Detroit Arts and Culture Not-for-profit Sector Financial Overview Part 2 – Tax Returns

This report analyzes how economic and cultural capital circulates in the Metro Detroit not-for-profit arts and culture ecosystem by analyzing the tax returns of the 50 biggest art and culture nonprofit organizations. It asks questions such as how big is the sector? What % of it comes from philanthropic sources? What does this fund? What are the prevailing investment strategies?

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165 Frank Lepkowski

Born Pontiac, MI, 1992 / BA, Oakland University / Lives in Oak Park, MI

We are a collection of all our experiences,” says digital artist Frank Lepkowski. “Online, an algorithm determines what you’re shown, which influences your worldview and the choices you make. It’s a cycle.” Lepkowski’s artistic practice bridges our web-based and IRL experiences as he crafts physical artifacts through machine-mediated processes.

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164 Nolan Simon

Born Detroit, 1980 / BFA, College for Creative Studies / Lives in Detroit

In the early 2010s, the social media platform Tumblr became known for its dynamic and diverse community of users who shared a wide range of content. The appropriation of photos and images re-emerged as a trend during this time, particularly among young artists who used Tumblr as a platform to gather reference materials. Among these artists was Nolan Simon.

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DIA Millage Mid-Term Scorecard – Executive Summary

This report provides a RYG scorecard for the first ten years of the DIA Millage (2013-2022). It addresses the impact of the millage on the DIA’s Finances (which we rated GREEN), the DIA’s Performance in converting resources into services and programming (which we rated RED/YELLOW), how effectively the Governance process (through the Art Institute Authorities) has operated (which we rated RED), and how effectively the Service Contract(s) have represented the interests of the residents of the Tri-County region (which we rated RED). Based on this analysis we present seven recommendations for the new Service Contract.

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163 Tony Rave

Born Detroit, MI, 1986/ Lives in Detroit, MI

It starts with a pig. A monolithic, mutilated mural of a pig, its intestines seeping out and wrapping around its neck. Cartoonish innards of the pig’s exposed underbelly appear referential to a confederate flag. A navy X shape with hearts instead of stars lay atop waves of red and white. Its insides are likened to a flaccid flag blowing in the wind. Drops of blood seep from its underbelly. The pig appears to be cut from its neck to the pelvic area of its hind legs.

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162 Cherry Wood

Born Tegucigalpa, Honduras (date unknown) / B.A. and MFA., Visual Arts, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada / Lives in Beverly Hills, MI

To sit down with Cherry Wood is to notice his poise and calm, traits that serve the observational interdisciplinary artist well.  His voluminous output spans photography, drawing, painting, and performance, and has recently evolved to include time-based media, such as film and experimental music, as well. Through this approach, he explores race, language, geographic borders, sexuality, and identity. The Honduran-born creative is also the founder and publisher of Barbed Magazine, which has spotlighted LGBTQ, Black, Asian, Latinx, and other underrepresented artists in Metro Detroit since 2014.

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161 Mary Andaloro working as Mary Tearz

Born Ypsilanti, MI, 1989. / BA, Columbia College Chicago, IL / Lives in Detroit

Multicolored waves of flame, giant eyes crying in the sky, and ominous portals are all common motifs in the artwork of Mary Tearz. Recognizable by its idiosyncratic style and eclectic array of subjects, Tearz’s work encompasses illustration, painting, and animation. Heavily influenced by cartoons, science fiction, and surrealism, her drawings illuminate a bizarre inner world of characters, places, and creatures, unplaceable to a specific space or time, existing in an obscure, far out dimension.

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New Writer – Chelsea A. Flowers

Chelsea A. Flowers is an artist and educator who holds a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art (2017), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Denison University in Studio Art, with a concentration in Black Studies (2013). She is an alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2022). Flowers’ artistic practice and writing interests explore ideas of “otherness” through a social and cultural critique of her environment.

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New Writer – Precious Johnson-Arabitg

Precious Johnson is an artist, writer, dancer, and collector. Born in the American South, she began her journey into the arts during college where she undertook a two-year ethnography exploring Argentine tango’s history and gender politics. Precious holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois-Springfield. A contributing writer and guest editor of Barbed Magazine, her research interests include the construction of self; costuming and textiles in identity formation; and masquerade traditions, both sacred and secular, in ritual dance practices.

New Writer – Marissa Jezak

Marissa Jezak is an artist/writer based in Detroit. She received a BFA in photography and critical theory from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in 2014. In her work, she explores themes of healing, desire, and violence. Often using found materials reminiscent of childhood, her art emanates a melancholic nostalgia, alluding to feminine youth. Marissa’s ongoing research focuses on illness, trauma, and gender politics. In addition to many self-published works, her writing has been featured in runner magazine, and she has exhibited artworks internationally—recently at Biquini Wax EPS (CDMX) and Rudimento (Quito).

Metro Detroit Arts and Culture Not-for-profit Sector Financial Overview Part 1 – Funding Streams

This report examines that the total publicly reported, ongoing philanthropic funding support for arts and culture in Metro Detroit based on an analysis of funding streams. It traces where the money comes from and where it goes, and hence establishes a baseline overview of the pipeline of transparent and repeatable year-over-year funding for arts and culture in the region.

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Overview of the Mural Painting Ecosystem

This report describes the ecology and economy of the mural painting ecosystem in Detroit. It includes six case studies of mural painting projects in the city and concludes with a SWOT analysis of the ecosystem. It recognizes, but does not investigate, the economic, social, and ethical issues raised by the relationship between public art and the property market.

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160 Ijania Cortez

Born Detroit, 1990, Lives in Detroit

In Transcendence: A Portrait of Corey Teamer, a 2018 mural by Ijania Cortez at Brush and Baltimore, the eponymous figure rotates to face the viewer through three successive images. Each image is slightly larger and at a slightly higher elevation, and this, combined with the glowing orange, Rothko-esque background, reinforces the ascendant trajectory implied by the title. 

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159 Juan Martinez

Born Bogota, Colombia, 1976 / Lives in Detroit 

In San Clara Del Cobre, Mexico, where a nineteen-year-old Juan Martinez went to trade school, and where copper working goes back to the pre-Columbian era, they do things the hard way. Standing in a close circle around a hot ingot, typically manufactured from recycled scrap, the copper-workers beat, in turn, to flatten the ingot to the desired thickness before creating the beautiful utilitarian objects for which the city is known. It is punishing labor, but there is a magic in the rhythmic blows, the cascading sparks, and the gradual transformation of the metal. 

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