Donita Simpson

Royal Oak MI

Gilda Snowden
Artist Statement
Yes, Detroit is a bankrupt city. It’s a city that has experienced more that its share of corruption and chaos but one community remains lively, energetic and creative. The artist community of Detroit defines the spirit of the city. This project was started in the 1990s and continues today with energy and gusto. The photographs represent artists that have been making art in the city of Detroit for over 20 years. What defines the inspired life? The spaces where we create become the backdrop of our lives; a private landscape, our home, the studio, the classroom. This project is an exploration of the lifeblood of a city. It’s a journey into “The Spirit of Detroit”, the real Detroit, the part you never see, these tight safe havens where the city’s spirit is created and renewed. These are the city’s warriors and the spaces they inhabit. The artists of this city that have remained and endured; they have enlivened and enriched a city that has otherwise been crushed. These characters have taught painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, ceramics… they have made amazing contributions to “The Spirit of Detroit”. I photograph them because I am interested in the pride and exuberance with which they share their art, teach art, and the welcoming way in which they communicate what they do and how they do it. The artists I spend time photographing have made enormous contributions to the culture of the city and the community, by making art, teaching art, curating art, installing art; in a sense, they are living art. I’m working to capture this enduring spirit. I hope that the project will draw attention to the pride and integrity of the artists and in so doing help restore pride to the city of Detroit. Donita Simpson