Detroit Walk-in Portrait Studio

The Detroit Walk-In Portrait Studio is an adaptation of August Sander’s monumental series ‘People of the 20th Century’ subverted into a present day American model. The project considers issues of community and cultural identity, gentrification and transition, by investigating Detroit’s neighborhood and grassroots movements.

I set up the first Walk-In Portrait Studio during the economic downturn in early 2009. The studio was improvised in a formerly foreclosed house on Klinger street. For five days, I welcomed people to be photographed and asked them to tell a story about the neighborhood. The project forged many new relationships, and has since been set up in dozens of locations around the city. I focused on individuals who were engaged in their respective communities, including grassroots activists, creatives, and members of subcultures. The portraits studio ran from 2009 until 2019 and – through its many evolutions and iterations – evolved into an extensive photographic archive of contemporary Detroiters.

This House of Synagogue, 2017

No Way Back, Tangent Gallery, 2017

Woodward Bar, 2017

Movement Appreciation Party, 2017

Klinger Street, 2009

Ann Arbor Trail Elementary School, 2009

University of Detroit Jesuit High School, 2009

Cody High School, 2009

Catherine Ferguson Academy, 2011

Trayvon Martin Rally, 2013

Defend the DIA! Protest, 2013

Focus: HOPE Youth Photography Program, 2013

Fortress Artist Studios, 2013

D-Town Farm, 2013

Recycle Here!, 2013

The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, 2014

Jit Happens at the DIA, 2014

Ruth Ellis Center, 2015

March into the Future, 2019