Thursday, November 20, 2008

Detroit Diamonds Project

On Detroit streets it is common to encounter piles of glass from broken car windows. It is easy to overlook these 'city diamonds' which quickly become scattered in traffic, but in a city built on the auto industry and struggling to overcome a variety of social and economic setbacks, it is fitting to seek value in remnants of cars and crime. For this ongoing collaboration, we collect many piles of broken car window shards in our neighborhood, leaving the streets temporarily free of glass and reminders of violence. After sweeping up the glass, we meticulously wash and sort it, taking out all stones and debris, and create wool felt to place underneath it.

The materials of felt and glass have been imbued with social and spiritual significance for artists such as Joseph Beuys and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Through their work, both artists emphasize the ability of creative energy to transform objects and actions, recognizing connections between arts and healing. Felt is recognized for its protective properties of strength and warmth. We form the material into blanket-like panels recalling the domestic comfort of home, though it also reminds us of the needs of those who are homeless in Detroit. Though the time-intensive processes we undertake to create the felt and clean the glass echo the monotonous repetition of factory labor, we find the experiences meditative and rewarding. Through the traditionally-feminine tasks of washing and cleaning, we are able to transform the glass, revealing its jewel-like quality and underlying beauty. We hope viewers of this piece will find a meditative space which will allow them to reflect on the transformative process of labor.