Jan 2008

Detroit Industrial Projects presents “One After Another”

Exhibition-  January 18th to February 9th

An art installation by 

Gabe Hillebrand

Madeline Stillwell

Amanda thatch

Andrew Thompson

Nate Vince


The trip north meant missing Susanne Hillberry and Detroit Industrial Projects’ openings. I did, however, make it back to D.I.P. the next afternoon. As they’ve done so strongly in the past, it’s an installation show responding to the very space itself. Put together by Andrew Thompson, it features Gabe Hillebrand, Madeline Stillwell, Amanda Thatch, Nathan Vince, and Thompson. It’s a diverse field with each artist getting their own region to inhabit, yet it holds together quick well. Using a plethora of pallets Thompson builds a wooden fort, that at first look, seems as if they’re just thrown together, piled up as in “Les Miserables,” but it becomes clear that certain areas have a grace to them. There’s an archway at one end curving into the wall, where he’s carefully oriented the wood forms. It’s an interesting architectural mass in and of itself – but wait, there’s more. The archway is an entranceway leading to the inside. Crawling over the carpet he’s laid down, you arrive at a tiny room with wood-finished flooring, a dresser, chair and TV on the inside. It’s a fort we built or imagined as children, brought to life with the skills of being grownup. Thompson’s playfulness and obsessiveness work together well here to make this a delight on multiple levels.



If Thompson’s “house” is playful, Hillebrand’s metal tiny house, suspended (not hung) by stretched aircraft cable attached to the columns and walls, is surreal and continues this exploration of place.


Thatch’s forms are ethereal square columns of translucent netting suspended by ceiling-mounted pulleys, in great contrast to the mammoth support columns in the industrial building.


Vince has made small earth mounds, cast from cut up small curved gas tanks. He’s planted grass in the dirt, tiny straight lines rising up, and life growing from pollution.


Finally, Stillwell uses industrial found objects to interact quite directly with the space itself. In fact, it’s not immediately clear at first what she’s done and what’s part of the building. Yet it is all very purposeful. Industrial interior becomes canvas, rubber tubes, pvc pipes, plastic forms and other elements become drawing tools to form her composition.

Each of the different works makes for a solid and engaging show. D.I.P. continues to offer something very Detroit, yet with a refreshing approach that is welcome in this landscape. – Nick Sousanis – www.thedetroiter.com

Detroit Industrial Project uses art to create change

Isaac Elster / For The South End

Like it or not, Detroit has the image in the minds of many Americans as a stale, regressing city or a center for crime in the country.To counter this criticism, five local artists have created an exhibit that pays tribute to the city. For “One After Another,” WSU professor Andrew Thompson used objects and construction materials to coordinate the project.Thompson, Gabe Hillebrand, Madeline Stillwell, Amanda Thatch and Nathan Vince have created a wide array of installation art pieces that convey the theme of urban industrialization.Director of the Detroit Industrial Project, Jeanette Strezinski, hopes that this exhibit and others show off a few of Detroit’s gifted people.  The project sponsored the artists’ exhibition.“There are so many talented Detroit artists, it’s just amazing,” Strezinski said.“They come in, I take a risk, and I don’t interfere with anything they do. I’m not even nervous.”

This exhibit is set in the Russell Industrial Center, and it is a perfect setting for artists to present the exhibit’s theme.

“There’s something happening here [in Detroit],” Hillebrand said. “There’s something happening here in this building. If Detroit’s really going to develop somewhere, I think it’s going to be right here.”

A section of the Russell Industrial Center had previously been used to present an exhibition partially dedicated to flatulence. Now, Thompson and his fellow artists have completely reverted a section of this century-old abandoned automotive plant to its industrial roots for their exhibit.

Thompson and Hillebrand complement each other by examining real estate in Detroit. Thompson’s “Dream House” utilizes an awkwardly compiled collection of wood palettes to create a sheltered cubicle.  Hillebrand’s suspended miniature house is more conventionally designed, but is also very exposed to the elements. These pieces examine the architecture of Detroit real estate while also paying tribute to those who dwell in similar types of buildings.

The piece created by Madeline Stillwell challenges the viewer to pay attention to the architecture of the Russell Industrial Center. Placing tubular metallic objects found in Highland Park near radiator pipes, Stillwell forces her audience to decide which contraptions do and do not belong on the heater. She also places clear plastic mesh on a beige wall. WSU alumnus Vince created “Snakeskin Green Pearl” from molded gas tanks and mounds of store-bought soil to reveal the synthetic aspects of industrialization. His work also examines the expense of organic materials in urban areas and how nature recovers abandoned industrial areas.Thatch drew inspiration for her installation piece “Jumping Out of My Skin” from a concrete column in the art gallery. She suspended five fabric columns from the ceiling, supporting them with strands of cord.“The [concrete] column is very dense; it’s meant to support the ceiling,” Thatch said. “[My columns] actually need to be supported by these cords that are coming off of it.”By inverting expectations of architectural space, Thatch challenges expectations people have about Detroit. People may have preliminary assumptions about the city, but those are likely to change after they experience it.“One After Another” meets its goals of examining and paying homage to Detroit’s urbanity. Many of the pieces require a great deal of time to fully appreciate their meaning, but it is time well spent. This exhibit is highly recommended for those who understand or want to develop a greater understanding of Detroit.

“One After Another” is on exhibit at the Detroit Industrial Project until Feb. 8. The closing reception is on Feb. 8 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Detroit Industrial Project is located in Building 2 of the Russell Industrial Center at 1600 E. Clay.


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