The huge campus of the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Educational Community in Detroit holds a local treasure. Within this network of buildings and parks can be found the Cranbrook Art Museum. Having association with the education facility means that the museum gets to utilise some of the most eager minds in the area to bring out the best cultural displays. It's been there since 1930 and is really close to the famous Eight Mile. One of America's earliest forerunners for the provision of contemporary art is perhaps well suited to the exhibit being shown this October.
With technical support from the generous Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the exhibition called Landlord Colors has taken three years to plan. Although centred around the museum, the Landlord Colors exhibit is spread out across Detroit. Along with a tour bus called Materiality, over sixty artists are represented across various local landmarks and iconic spots. Art works and performances will work together to bring about an immersive and memorable experience.
Detroit has had a difficult history since the industry sector decline. What was a bustling city of factories and plants became synonymous with urban entropy. Even films like Robocop made use of the setting to portray semi-distopian madness. It's never as bad as they make it in the movies, is it? Struggle is real, though, and in order to show just how real the artists have banded together to liken it to other struggles on the global stage. There's a Detroit section, where the story of the city is told in creative and elaborate ways, and there are other sections too.
We also get the same treatment with the struggles felt by people in the Italian Avant-Garde scene during the 60s-80s. Here there's a sculpture installation that has two well made busts looking down at the fragments of other ones that are broken. Is this suggesting that the few get to where they are at the expense of others? There's also work to demonstrate the plight of Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russians were sending copious financial aid to the small island nation until their political union was dissolved in the 1990s. Extreme socialist policy has led to heavy sanctions which in turn has led to hardship for many.
Cuba is represented by a blanket of rags stitched together with the old clothes of Cuban migrants. Nearly 300 pounds of clothing was used to make the piece, and it approaches 200 square inches. The art form of making rag blankets is a Cuban tradition, and by using the garments of so many people who remain nameless and faceless, their story can be told in this fitting way. Created by Novo, the untitled blanket is said to capture the feel of the Cuban people. Other works show similar stories about the difficulties in 1970s South Korea when it went under authoritarian rule. There's also a section dedicated to the more modern financial difficulties in Greece. With huge debt to the European Bank which is costing large payments and interest, the Greeks have found themselves in a situation comparable to the third world nations under the same yoke.
It will take time to get around Detroit and see everything, there's a great reason to do it though as this time they've outdone even themselves. Art bubbles up from times of hardship like bubbles of air from a pond. Some good and some bad, we have to get up close to find out which is which. Visit the Cranbrook Art Museum online. Via Forbes.
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