The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 30, 2012

Reveal your Detroit

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

By Bradford Frost, Detroit Revitalization Fellow

How would you Reveal Your Detroit?

That question, through the support of an innovative grant opportunity with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, empowered the DIA to partner this past spring with 55 of Detroit’s community based organizations and hundreds of Detroit residents to share their perspectives of the city on disposable cameras.

Now on display The Detroit Public Library across Woodward Avenue from the museum, Reveal Your Detroit contains an impressive array of over 2,000 of the 12,000 images that were submitted for consideration. The display uses 60 large digital photo frames and a brief documentary video to help introduce visitors to the project.

The DIA recently hosted a public reception for the exhibition. Hundreds of residents from all walks of life in Detroit came out to see their images and contributions on view. Resident were often found eagerly approaching their group’s digital photo frame to see which of their shots made the show.

Community members viewing the Reveal Your Detroit exhibit at the Detroit Public Library. The exhibit runs through August 15 in Strohm Hall of Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library

Reveal Your Detroit is a powerful collection of images that celebrates Detroit’s broad diversity of people, it’s unique challenges and opportunities, and the city’s many nooks and crannies. All told, the show exhibits how passionate Detroit residents are about their city.

We learned that Detroit is in the eyes of its beholders. Although a complex place, to see Detroit through its citizens’ eyes is to see Detroit’s kaleidoscopic reality in powerful, even beautiful ways.

Detroit’s narrative is central to our local identity, and by empowering residents and community based organizations to become the artists after seeing the DIA’s contemporary photography exhibition, Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010, we became palpably aware that Detroit residents are fully capable of translating Detroit’s transformative possibilities on film through their own unique perspectives. Just look at a few of these submissions

Image by community resident from the Vanguard Community Development Corporation in Detroit’s Northend neighborhood.

Image from Fender Bender, which is a bicycle education and training group for self-identified women, transgendered individuals and members of the genderqueer community in Detroit.

Image of the Renaissance Center taken from Detroit’s Belle Isle by a photography student at Focus Hope: Detroit

Picture taken by a workforce development participant at Detroit’s Warm Training Center

Honestly, I’ll never look at Detroit the same way again. The 2,000 images in the show reflect an unabashedly local and undeniably beautiful compilation.  We at the DIA have been overwhelmed and humbled by the response and are so grateful to the Knight Foundation for its support of the project.

The Reveal Your Detroit images are on display through August 15th at the Detroit Public Library.

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