My work is about inspiring and cultivating a spirit of optimism for Detroit. Although I call myself a life long Detroiter, before returning to the city, early in my marriage I moved to the suburbs where I stayed for many years. Over the years I heard a lot of remarks about Detroit that I didn’t like. I knew the statistics. I could see the corruption. However, I wasn’t willing to accept these remarks. The city held a sentimental value for me & above all, I could see potential. The city was a victim of negativity & destruction by the very people who were a part of it. Many Detroiters & Metro Detroiters had joined this negative conversation.
Around 2000, I realized I had a voice with my art. I began taking photos of Detroit for painting reference. I took photos of the grand skyline & abandoned streets. I took photos of the ordinary & mundane. Although, I was painting exactly what was in the photos, not trying to glorify, people saw beautiful paintings. More importantly, they saw beautiful paintings of Detroit. I knew I had opened up at least a few minds with my paintings. A few years ago a friend introduced me to mosaics. I found stained glass intriguing & I realized it had qualities that I couldn’t get with paint. The glass varying in thickness, color or finishes opened up the possibilities. I started adding found objects.
This new medium would help me achieve greater dimension & perspective & ultimately strengthen my message. As a result, my work still looked like a painting but up close, you could see bits of broken glass & objects had been carefully assembled into what I call mosaic paintings. This allowed me to introduce a metaphoric connection between the assembly of my work and the revival of Detroit; literally picking up the pieces & putting them back together. In addition, the glass allowed me to strengthen my message of perspective. The shifting colors & reflective qualities of glass created movement & change. A slight shift in direction or angle or even the slightest variance in light can drastically change each piece. Again, reminding us Detroit’s perception may vary due to the point from vantage point.
For over 20 years I’ve been committed to this message of optimism. In that time I have had 13 solo exhibitions & shown extensively in Metro-Detroit galleries & although I am only a small voice in the many who have since joined the crusade of revival, I would like to think that I made a small contribution in the growing optimism that has made a noticeable difference in the city’s perception.
This particular piece, Reflect, is part of an ongoing series titled Un-shattered City. As Detroit has fought against the odds, both of reputation and years of declining population, to make a revival from years of steady decline. This series of work is a comment on a current revival movement.