North Manitou Island
My artwork is an attempt to reconcile my love for all things industrial with the impact they have on their environment. Using Metro Detroit as a backdrop, I attempt to shine light on the re-birth that is currently hatching here. The historical rise and fall of Detroit may be a cautionary tale for the rest of the nation, yet it abounds with inspiration and opportunity. In fact, as nature re-establishes itself in the remains of human “progress,” there is a plethora of inspirational snapshots which can offer Detroiters guidance and motivation to rise from the ashes. Where most may see only destruction and decay, I attempt to show the existence of life and growth. In my complex scenes of industry infused with nature and vitality, I show that no matter what happens—life will flourish in one way or another. Because of my strong architectural background, I am intrigued by the beauty of purely functional structures. For example, a steel manufacturing plant, a factory for making cars, or a power generating station all demonstrate exquisiteness. These structures are designed with function in mind; almost no thought goes into aesthetics. Yet, with the right perspective, they are quite beautiful. A sprawling oil refinery echoes a vast forest of trees; a dandelion bursting from a crack in the pavement stands strong against diversity; a dilapidated assembly line calls forth memories of parents and grandparents. Looking deeper, we can better meld industry, nature and, ourselves. Then we can begin to make a better, more sustainable plan for industrial and urban living. I have been documenting industrial and agricultural sites throughout Metro Detroit for the better part of a decade. I use a combination of methods including photos, sketches on site, color studies, and written notes. I then explore these images in my small scale studies using pastels or paints. Lending themselves to quick changes, broad strokes, and their variety of colors, pastels allow a seed-idea to blossom on the page freely. These worked out ideas then coalesce into large scale oil paintings on panel or canvas. Oil paints offer richness of color and intensity. Layer upon layer of paint adds depth and vibrancy to these works which usually take several hundred hours to complete. In what form will Detroit rise from the ashes? It is my hope that creative, sustainable design that draws from nature will play a large role in the shaping of our city.