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Paradise; The Myth of a Liberal North

Current work in progress

In the FalI of 2020 I moved to Detroit Mi for the artist in residence position at Wayne state. I began digging into Detroit and working to create an exhibition that layers history, geography, social relations, and the present together.  lay them next to each other to create an image that is not only wholly of Detroit, but America, using Detroit as a point of study. I wanted to find something that revealed the promise of Detroit that many Black Southerners sought during the great migration and how the fallout of that promise has led us to Detroit now. mapping Detroit's history of red and green lining, white flight and divestment. 

I found the story of Black bottom and paradise valley, two prominent black neighborhoods that were demolished in the late 1950s early 60s to be replaced by a freeway in the name of progress.  These neighborhoods were considered the heart of Detroit’s black community. I dug through the archives of the Detroit public library and came across images from black bottom and paradise valley before their destruction. And I saw so much life and community. Using these images And archival information, I create a series of work to talk about forced migration that is honest, painful, and but also resilience and finding and making paradise while living as a Black person in a system that we were never meant to survive in. 

I had the images digitally woven by a jacquard loom. And then I began to physically remove and rip signs of life from them. Using those pieces I began to college together image of that community exiting black bottom/ paradise valley and  then entering this fictional space were the eventually finding and creating a new paradise. 

With this work I am attempting to lay the promise of “The Garden of the West”, next to the 1950s destruction of Black infrastructure, and the contemporary resilience of Black Detroiter creating the community to find a way through. 

All images are studio images/ progress images

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