The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) presents Photographs from the Detroit Walk-In Portrait Studio by Corine Vermeulen from November 14, 2014, to May 17, 2015. Dutch-born photographer—now a Detroiter—Corine Vermeulen was commissioned by the DIA to photograph Detroiters and ask them to share their stories about the city and their engagement and support of its diverse communities.
DIA Curator of Photography Nancy Barr first saw Vermeulen’s walk-in portrait studio work taken in a foreclosed Detroit home on Klinger Street in 2009. Barr noted, “I saw something unique in this work in that it showed the efforts of an artist who was interested in not only the faces but in the stories of real people during a time of transition and change in the city.”
The future of the city
Barr asked Vermeulen to begin working on a series for the DIA in 2013. Vermeulen set up temporary walk-in portrait studios in various Detroit locations and took photos of hundreds of Detroiters from local organizations as well as neighborhood and social groups—at schools, protest rallies and grass-roots initiatives. Participants were asked about their current and future vision of Detroit, and their responses will accompany many of their portraits in this exhibition, which includes more than 80 images from the sessions.
The exhibition is free with museum admission and is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts in collaboration with Corine Vermeulen. It is supported, in part, by public funds from the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
Bikers and urban farms
Portraits in the exhibition include photographs from Vermeulen’s first Klinger Street walk-in portrait studio in 2009; custom-bike enthusiasts from the East Side Riders club; students at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, a new charter elementary school focused on Detroit’s history, issues and future; protesters at a Trayvon Martin rally in front of the Detroit Federal Building; D-Town Farm, one of the largest urban farms in Detroit; and brothers Johnny, Tracey and James McGhee, who started the Jit, a dance movement and style unique to Detroit, at an event at the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre.
A supplemental section includes work from one of Vermeulen’s earlier series, Your Town Tomorrow, that shares her thoughts about exploring Detroit’s changing landscape. She says, “I didn’t come to Detroit to witness the end of an era. I just wanted to find out if there was a future and what would it look like. My conclusion is that it’s about people; it’s about people empowered.”
Museum Hours and Admission
9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.