Either you hate or love it. If you’re from Detroit, chances are that you have a deep feeling about the once metropolis. For yours truly, no difference. I was born in Detroit (well, technically in Highland Park ), attended Detroit public schools (O.W. Holmes, Munger School, Renaissance high school)… After some time living in other cities, I eventually navigated back to the city’s west side. Surrounded by the municipalities likes of Dearborn, Livonia, Redford, Farmington, Southfield, Oak Park, East Point and Grosse Pointe, Detroit is in the perfect geographic location for what ever endeavor one wishes to partake. After a few years of living the North Rosedale, everything was going as planned; Children making friends in the neighborhood, holiday gathering, family cook-outs, future Prom send offs dreamt off… What I couldn’t foresee was how the housing bubble would eventually affect greater Detroit.
Fast forward to 2013….. I vividly remember feeling offended after seeing a DIA photography exhibit that showcased the work of globally recognized artists whom used the ruins of Detroit as subject matter. After all, I was born and raised here. After the exhibit was torn between being a photographer appreciating how another artist had captured the harsh reality of the City of Detriot’s blight problem and a resident whom move back here to partake in the projected renaissance that was to come from Kwame Kilpatrick’s winning mayoral office. I’ve always loved Detroit! I’ve seen some great times here. No one could tell me $%!+ wrong about the city or my fellow Detroiters. I even drew some serious internet beef after speaking up on a certain social media blog when I suggested that the use imagery of dilapidated of inner city Detroit structures as subject matter / political discussion spring-board could make the city look worse to businesses, investors, potential tax paying residents looking to move here…
Now, being a runner, I had seen some of the less favorable parts of the city during my long runs, But I had never chose to focus on the extent of blight visually. Up until that point, I had ignored it as if it were a cold that would eventually get better with proper care. It wasn’t until the home next door to mine was walked away from, looted and eventually my home targeted by scrappers that I began to look at detroit’s urban blight as a possible cancer that may be terminal.
With my canon AE-1 in strap around my neck, I set out on bike to explore with the sole purpose of taking inventory of my surrounding areas while viewing the “D” with photojournalist eyes. That experience is one that I will never forget. All of the ill feelings about how [i felt] Detroit was being unjustly portrayed changed into in to something similar to seeing a family member fall off. Like many metro Detroiters, I wish the city as a shinier, more healthy version of itself. Furthermore, I came to respect the coverage of Detroit’s Decay by artist like Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, Zach Fein, Brandon P. Davis and a slew of other photographers after looking at the careful consideration. It is truly a gift to be able to photograph urban decay in such a way that it inspires reflection. After all, that is one of the most compelling properties of art isn’t it? Inspiring thought.
Here are the photographs that I took the day that I began to look at detroit differently. These images, sadly, mark the day ceased being a proud Detroiter.