A LIVING HISTORY
Words Randal Jacobs Photography Bree Gant
In honor of those Freedom Fighters that have come before us; James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Fannie Lou Hammer, Gordon Parks, Norman Lewis, Nina Simone – we continue their work to realize the dream of freedom for all.
In the spirit of the Bauhaus, which sought to eliminate the distinction between artist and craftsman, here resides a living documentary of the city of Detroit and its everyday people; a depiction of a creative class in our city; an(other) narrative that offers a glimpse into the important racial geography and social landscape of Detroit.
Giving reverence to “A Great Day in Harlem”, the seminal shot of 57 Jazz legends taken in 1958 by Art Kane on E. 126th St., inspired by contemporary photographer Rog Walker’s epic lionization of Solange Knowles’ wedding party, without a word, phrase, or artist statement, one feels a message.
I do see colour, shape, size, and age and it is all beautiful in the eyes of the Ultimate Creator. I hear Marvin Gaye echoing through the streets of Flint down under the sewage pipes and water supply, “…what’s going on???”
I see Martin Luther King Jr. sitting and furiously co-authoring a plan of action with the likes of Septima Clark, Diane Nash and Dorothy Height to figure out a way to bless our children of Detroit Public Schools all with an equal, stellar education and state-of-the-art facilities.
I sit writing these words at a cafe in Harlem only a few blocks from what will be a four-floor Whole Foods on the corner of 125th St. and Malcolm X Boulevard; I am overwhelmed with the notion that what we are dealing with in Detroit has become a universal plague. It needs no labeling. I think about the Bodega-sized store we have on Mack and Woodward and instantly understand that gentralization (gentrification and globalization) is alive and well in most of our historical Black and Latino communities.
It is the artist’s duty to reflect these realities of their times. Through these artists we may right wrongs and demand a higher standard of humanity. We all have an obligation to the vastly diversified, multi-cultural, racial solidarity shown specifically to improve the conditions of Black Americans in the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.A. We are all called to rally for justice as we declare that #BlackLivesMatter and insist that you #SayHerName.
We do not need allies in this revolution; we need accomplices of every hue who are bound to do these things not only for their tribute and equity, but for the posterity of all; to pay it forward to a future generation, nation, and Detroiter.
We The People:
Through his signature tunics, Muktar frontiers a new generation of designers, and their take on contemporary dressing, through the lens of neo classical Africa. www.vizuvlgvds.com
Armageddon BeachParty are Detroit ambassadors of psychedelic pop art painters and jewelry makers. This husband and wife team creates wearable sculpture from found objects, precious stones and gems. www.armageddonbeachpartydetroit.com
Piazza, a milliner, creates head pieces that rivals works of couture houses in Paris. She works from her home studio on the East side of Detroit. [email protected]
David Philpot creates staffs made out of found wood, carved and jeweled, styled with Swarovsky crystals, time pieces, cowry shells and semi precious pearls. His work has been exhibited in Museums around the world. Married to his Muse, Marsha Philpot, they both are walking culture icons of style and grace. www.davidphilpot.wordpress.com
Ryan Seng designs knit garments out of his local studio that are so luxurious Samuel L Jackson is one of his clients. The garments are adorned with his original patterns and shapes woven into beautiful oversize scarves, jumpers and bottoms. They are beyond luxury with a clean and chic aesthetic for the millennial man. www.ryanseng.us
Detroit is the New Black is becoming a global brand that defines a conscious State of America through sleek, smart designs. Roslyn Karamoko, creator of DITNB, speaks to a generation of individuals that appreciate design as a way of life. www.detroitisthenewblack.com
Not Pressed represents street wit, with signature branding on t-shirts, caps and skullies created by owner Jamie Jackson. www.notpressed.com
DL Perrett uses his creative eye to make made-by-hand garments unique for the modern man. [email protected]
Master tailor Anne Foster and dressmaker Terese Blanco (group photo) collaborate with Savvy Gents to create garments by hand. With individual accolades in the world of theatre and the beauty industry, these Ladies of Detroit define the style of a city that was never lost. [email protected] [email protected]
Photography: Bree Gant
Words: Randal Jacobs
Note: All artists are wearing their own garments.
These portraits were first commissioned for The Tenthzine from photographer Bree Gant and creative director Randal Jacobs. This is the first of a series in which Gant and Jacobs are collaborating in documenting persons who are living history in Detroit.