Detroit has long been a hub for all kinds of artists, but photography in particular has gone from strength to strength in the city. As home to a number of local and international photographers, from the established and celebrated to the next generation of emerging talent, Detroit provides a compelling and ever-changing subject to capture. Here are a number of artists whose work you need to be aware of.
Now a staff photojournalist at The Washington Post, Salwan Georges was formerly of the Detroit Free Press, whose long-term focus was on Iraqi refugees in the metro Detroit area. He was recently included in Photo District News (PDN), a monthly magazine for the professional photographer’s, ‘2017 30’, a selection of new and emerging photographers.
A longstanding fixture of the Detroit art scene, Cynthia Greig has spent her career investigating the persuasive power of the photographic image. Her photographs, installations and videos have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the US and the world, and she co-authored a book of vintage photographs, Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls and Other Renegades in 2003, celebrating women that defied the times by wearing trousers.
Originally from the Netherlands, Corine Vermeulen set up her studio practice in Detroit in 2006 and has since worked to document the city’s social and geographical changes through projects like ‘Your Town Tomorrow’ and ‘Their Town Today’. In 2014, her portrait project ‘The Walk-In Portrait Studio,’ focusing on people working to improve the city through community organizations and neighborhood groups, was the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Jon DeBoer began exploring the city of Detroit with a camera in 2009, and has been capturing the changing face of the city in striking, largely black and white images ever since. A selection of his night time photography was featured in the successful recent DIA exhibition, Detroit After Dark. He is also the team photographer for Detroit’s soccer team, Detroit City FC.
Dave Krieger has been working as a photographer in Detroit for over 30 years, taking all kinds of pictures of the city for all kinds of projects and publications. He recently wrote and photographed a book called “Things I do in Detroit by The Nain Rouge”, a collection of the greatest places in Detroit from the point of view of the mythical creature that supposedly haunts the city.
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University in 2014, Aleksey Kondratyev has been dividing his time between Detroit and Central Asia. He recently completed a fellowship at Fabrica, a prestigious research centre in Italy, publishing a book of his work, Formations, a photographic narrative of the Central Asia region. He is also director and co-founder of Stand Quarterly, a visual-arts journal showcasing the work and thoughts of contemporary artists from around the world.
Also at Stand as Associate Editor, Ryan Debolski is a graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography in 2014. He subsequently received a Fulbright Grant to travel to Oman to compile a photographic series examining architecture and the relationship it has with the identity of the Musandam Peninsula as a geographic enclave.
Jenny Risher graduated from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography. For her first book, Heart Soul Detroit, she interviewed and photographed 50 iconic Detroiters, including Iggy Pop, Smokey Robinson, and Jack White. Elsewhere, her work can be seen in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts and at the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham.
Doug Coombe has been documenting the Detroit music scene for over 20 years. He’s worked for the Metro Times since 1999 and his photos have featured in Rolling Stone, Spin, Billboard and NME. Given his extensive coverage of Detroit’s music nightlife, it’s not surprising he also had work featured in Detroit After Dark at the DIA.
Another artist featured in Detroit After Dark at the DIA is Scott Hocking, who has been based in Detroit since 1996. Alongside sculptural work and installations, his photography has largely explored the city at night. Over a number of years he built such a body of images that he realised they could be a cohesive series. Detroit Nights was published in 2015 by design store Nora.
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