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Reveal Your Detroit

An Intimate Look at a Great American City

A Community Engagement Project Led by the Detroit Institute of Arts Bradford Frost

Publication Year: 2013

Through a unique partnership model with forty-five community organizations, the Detroit Institute of Arts' 2012 community photography exhibit "Reveal Your Detroit" offered Detroit residents the chance to respond to the Museum's contemporary photography exhibition Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010. Using disposable cameras, each participant captured people, places, and things that make their lives in Detroit distinctive, inspired by the questions "what does your Detroit look like?" and "how do you want others to see it?". In the final display, over 1,700 images rotated across 60 digital photo frames, from a selection of over 10,000 submitted. For this volume, author Bradford Frost has selected 200 images from the exhibit to showcase the perspectives of hundreds of residents and the places they presented, from the gritty to the sublime. Reveal Your Detroit is composed of two main sections-The Authentic City and Detroit's Vital Transformation-photo essays that evoke Detroit's spirited resolve and response to the dominant imagery of the city in decline. Photographers visit favorite Detroit sites like Eastern Market, the Detroit Riverfront, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Comerica Park, Michigan Central Station, and the Fox Theater; but they also highlight lesser known spots, like the cobblestone streets of West Canfield in Midtown, Hostel Detroit in Corktown, and the Central Business District Community Garden Downtown. Photos highlight Detroit's vibrant street and folk art, the diversity of the city's natural environment, and the vitality of residents and businesses in a range of city neighborhoods. The participating community groups are introduced in short text sections throughout the book and credited in the captions of each photo they submitted. Frost concludes with a personal section containing snapshots of a few of his own Detroit highlights. Reveal Your Detroit is not only a beautiful gift book and record of a transforming American city, it is also a testament to the possibilities of creative partnership between grassroots organizations and larger cultural institutions. Anyone with roots in Detroit or an interest in community-based art will appreciate the multilayered picture created by Reveal Your Detroit.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Painted Turtle


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-vii

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Reveal Your DIA

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pp. 1-4

Museums and artists. They’re like yin and yang. It’s not always an easy relationship, but it’s an enduring one that frequently creates sparks of brilliance. Detroit Revealed was one such sparkler. The exhibition was organized by DIA associate curator Nancy Barr and a group of local and national artists ...

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pp. 5-10

Reveal Your Detroit was made possible with the generous support of the John S. and Lames L. Knight Foundation. In addition to the grant that gave life to the Reveal Your Detroit project and ultimately this book, the Knight Foundation made a historic endowment gift in support of a broad spectrum of community engagement efforts ...

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Reveal Your Detroit

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pp. 11-26

Imagine: What if you were asked to capture your life in Detroit in just twenty-seven photographs? What would you share? Sure, we’ve long since moved on from the idea of a limited number of images we can capture. With cell phones, digital cameras, and Facebook’s unending bandwidth, what’s stopping us? But by slowing down and thinking about that prospect—just twenty-seven ...

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The Authentic City

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pp. 27-134

From historic landmarks to shots of the Renaissance Center from “The Mound,” residents captured stunning angles of Detroit’s icons. The usual places that pepper national newsreels of the city took on a more intimate feel in the hands of residents using disposable cameras. Then there were the neighborhoods. Most of ...

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Detroit’s Vital Transformation

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pp. 135-179

Transformation is hard work. At its core, transformation is a process of seeking radical change while retaining the central DNA of the object being transformed. This is true whether witnessing the transformation of a buttery, a missiondriven organization, or even a city. This is the crux of Detroit’s dilemma: we love the best of what Detroit is, and although we know it’s a ...

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pp. 180-187

Words allow one conversation about Detroit. Images allow another. It was only my second day on the job. Unclear and uncertain as to how to effectively link the DIA to local community revitalization efforts, it was then that I discovered that Detroit Revealed: Photographs ...


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pp. 188-191

Partner Organizations

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pp. 192-195

Back Cover

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pp. 204-204

E-ISBN-13: 9780814339640
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814339633

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 192
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Painted Turtle
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OCLC Number: 867739303
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Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Pictorial works
  • Photography -- Michigan -- Detroit -- Exhibitions.
  • Photography -- Michigan -- Detroit -- Catalogs.
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