In the fourth issue of Detroit Cultural we continue our focus on themes from previous issues–cultural appropriation, ethnocentrism, institutional representation– all of which are interrelated and distinctly point to the ways in which the cultural, political, and social are overlapping. 

Featured is our interview with Ingrid LaFleur, a curator, pleasure activist, and Afrofuturist who is currently living and working out of Rwanda. We talk about Manifest Destiny, her recent exhibition at Library Street Collective, as well as what she sees as the white-washing of Detroit prevalent within “renaissance” narratives of the city.

We also talk with painter and art educator Tylonn J. Sawyer, who was one of the recipients of the 2019 Kresge Arts Detroit Visual Arts Fellowship. We discuss the artist-curator relationship, and issues of cultural appropriation, with a specific focus on what he sees as the nuances between the usage of black trauma as raw material by white artists, and art’s ability to allow people to empathize across cultural lines.

Matthew Piper and Steve Panton sat down with us to talk about Essay’d, a writing project they co-edit that publishes short illustrated articles about Detroit artists as well as organizes workshops for artists and writers. We talk about the publication’s “many speaking to many” ethos, and the importance of social engagement in cultural work.

Our final interview is with Dr. Samantha Noel, professor of art history at Wayne State University and author of Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism, a forthcoming book published by Duke University Press. We discuss the eurocentrism prevalent in art history curricula, and the connections between knowledge and power.


Towards a New Relationship With Black Bodies: In Conversation with Ingrid LaFleur

The Relationship Between Knowledge and Power in Art History: In Conversation with Samantha Noel

Many Speaking to Many: In Conversation with Steve Panton and Matthew Piper  (Essay’d Detroit)

Connecting the Specific to the Universal: In Conversation with Tylonn Sawyer