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Visual & Design Arts

U-M Stamps partners to explore art and gentrification in Detroit

Lamphere House, a past project of Hannah Smotrich’s Detroit Connections: Design Collaboration course. Image courtesy: University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design

A new series to be published by online Detroit-based arts and culture journal Infinite Mile, in partnership with the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, casts a critical eye upon the topic of art and gentrification in the city of Detroit and beyond.

Stamps School Dean Guna Nadarajan and Nick Tobier, associate professor and director of Detroit Engagement at Stamps, initiated the idea in order to extend the school’s ongoing cultural collaborations in the city.

“Gentrification is an important topic for us—and for any artist—to address when doing creative work in any city,” Nadarajan said. “As creative practitioners, we want to look deeply at how we engage with the residents and what the consequences are of our work. Is gentrification an inevitable outcome of art? Are there redeeming aspects of gentrification? We really want to generate dialogue—and it’s an important time in Detroit’s history to do so.”

Over the next six months, Tobier will join a diverse group of contributors from multiple disciplines and locations in responding to a series of prompts on the topic.

“As artists and designers, our faculty, students and alumni, are currently engaged in multiple creative projects around the city. Joining forces with Infinite Mile opens up new opportunities for generating critical discourse—what is happening in Detroit is important to us as both a regional and national conversation,” Tobier said.

Infinite Mile editors Jennifer Junkermeier and Stephen Garrett Dewyer founded the journal with the hope of generating a critical and more nuanced discussion of Detroit’s diverse arts scene, to invite the community to engage in an open conversation about concerns and solutions, and to document the evolution of the city.

“We were concerned about the lack of serious art writing and art criticism here in Detroit and we wanted to go deeper than the Mike Kelley and Tyree Guyton stories,” Junkermeier said. “There’s so much media interest in the city but it’s coming from the outside.”

Both the Stamps School and Infinite Mile recently received Knight Arts Challenge awards, given to organizations and ideas that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts.

Upcoming articles in the series will include essays and more from Tobier and fellow Stamps faculty members Osman Khan, Seth Ellis, Rebekah Modrak and Irina Aristarkhova, as well as other artists, scholars and activists like Marsha Music, Vince Carducci, Stephen Zacks, Lauren Hood, Michael Stone-Richards, Syed Ali and Daniel D’Oca.

A release party for February’s issue will be held 7–9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, at Cass Cafe in Detroit, and a panel discussion on art and gentrification will take place at the Carr Center on March 27 from 5:30–7pm.

Story via University of Michigan News.

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