January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Year-end Impressions/DayFOUR:Abstraction In A Desolate Space

The fourth day of my first visit to Detroit last year was my birthday and on that day I reported from not only that Thursday but the previous day's journey through the emotional urban landscape - the urban decay and abandonment - for which Detroit has been too well known. It was overwhelming and still is.

That said, one can learn from this landscape if one regards it not as "ruin porn" but, as did the photographer Andrew Moore, as a lesson - one of Ozymandius - that moves us cautiously upward and forward. I cannot deny that I am seduced by this and on my second visit, guided by the Detroit-based photographer, Dan Seybold, was able to capture one or two sights of this decay that horrified me but simultaneously allowed me entry into what was and what could ultimately become. If we recognize the art, then we can recognize what needs to be recovered.

St. Agnes' Catholic Church in New Center was such a visit. Abandoned. The parochial school of Rosa Parks and one I've before commented upon here. Shorn of defining characteristics but replete with emotion and spirit.

Rather than looking at these images with condemnation, today I see them as representing hope.

I do see the hope but even today, just found this article, originally posted in the Detroit Free Press this past December: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2012/jan/01/churches-for-sale/

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