Sage Whitney


Souvenirs From An American Utopia
Artist Statement
Architecture is more than a static structural shell, impersonal, and perfunctory. Buildings also exist as a living record of time, history and the people who thrive among them. In the instance of post-industrial Detroit, the abandoned architectural giants not only represent a rich, gilded past, but the ravages of time and cultural collapse. In a city that has lost more than a quarter of it’s inhabitants in the last decade, buildings still stand despite abandonment and vandalization, though roofs may mournfully sag and paint may crack and curl. I feature Detroit’s architecture in my work as both an artifact from a happier past as well as a reminder of social and cultural failures yet to be set right. Domestic sewn objects featuring structures like Michigan Central Station are labors of love that not only personalize the experience of the urban as well as capture the nostalgic longings we have towards the places we inhabit and Gilded Age utopias. In Ruin Porn Series, lush, glittering fiber pieces capture the sensual, stimulating nature of the “ruin porn” photograph and the media’s fetishization of Detroit’s collapse. The sculptural works of My City, My Home, My Body Series engage ideas of architectural degradation directly through the language of wall segments. The forms appear as fragments of no-longer existing original, which begin to bloat and sag in a manner empathetically reminiscent of the human body’s own decline and collapse through age. My artistic tendency to engage with painstakingly detailed processes is only further proof of my increasing endearment for the sites, structures, and histories. As a Detroit native, the work is a poetic expression of the unique struggles the city faces. If my work touches upon nothing else, in the end I hope to give forgotten architecture and the city itself a new life with a voice, a heart and a purpose.