It’s leap day as I write this. Leap year, and this extra day inserted at the end of February, always feels a bit magical to me, as it demonstrates that things we take for granted, aren’t quite as nice and neat as they appear. Just as this added day every four years (except for those divisible by 100, unless they are also divisible by 400 – 2000 was a leap year, 1900 wasn’t) is an adjustment to keep our calendar in step with the actual orbit of the earth around the sun, we too can see this extra day as an opportunity to pause and reflect on where we’re at, and perhaps make adjustments in our own lives.
As I mentioned last time, I’m heading east very soon – taking a flying leap of sorts into new terrain, new challenges – a new adventure. Although the decision to make this move came about several months ago, it’s not entirely coincidental that I targeted my departure around this special day. What better time to start something new?
To leap is seldom an easy thing, it’s difficult to trust that we’ll land safely. Yet to grow, to transform, often the only way to do so is to leave a place of safety and comfort and brave the unknown. It’s with that in mind I share some words borrowed from Joseph Campbell that I’ve often shared with my students. He writes, “As young Native Americans embark upon their initiations, their elders instruct them with these words: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.’”
Wishing you all courage and safe landings. – Nick Sousanis
A little over five and a half years ago, my brother and I dreamed up and brought into existence a publication dedicated to a critical discourse of the arts and culture of this city. Not long after the launch of thedetroiter.com, his first child, my nephew, came into the world too. As his boy has grown and matured, the magazine too has been developing – as we mark his rising height on a closet door, we mark our continued growth one story at a time. And there have been many. It’s been a path filled with new experiences and encounters with new contributors along the way, all bringing their own input to the magazine’s development.
Recently a new niece was born (with a couple in between), which leads me to talk of another birth of sorts in these here virtual pages. As rumors have suggested over the last few months now, your arts editor is indeed packing up his bags soon and heading east. I’m leaping into something new, with some knowns and a whole lot of unknowns, and diving into a brand new adventure. It’s a rebirth of my own. It’s exciting, thrilling, and yes, it’s awfully hard to leave this community – these Detroiters. But change, starting with that first momentous one of born, is a part of life, and it’s healthy.
So what does that mean for thedetroiter.com? Well, it’s soon to experience its own rebirth. It is NOT going away, that much is certain. In fact, there are a lot of exciting things ahead for it. As it grows up, there are new possibilities and new challenges in its future, it’s changing as I watch my nephew change, as I imagine what’s to come for this new baby girl as well.
What’s next then? Well I’ve got a little bit more time here, but I hope to be able to say very soon just what the future holds, but I do know it’ll be in good hands. After all, you can’t just leave your baby with anyone. Stay tuned…. – Nick Sousanis
Monocultures, in terms of biology and industry, bring tremendous yields, but yet are prone to catastrophic failures, diseases, those sorts of things. Reliant on a single model, a single industry, as we’ve seen here, can be disastrous when things head south (or east as the case may be.)
Bio-diversity protects against such things. The same is true in the arts as well. The arts are about ideas, exploring the new, continually being challenged, and exploring new ways of seeing. We benefit from the introduction of new species into our midst, and cross-pollination allows new possibilities to bloom. In the art community in Detroit, we are fortunate to have such an influx of those coming from the outside right in our midst, even if we don’t know it. Schools attract such diversity, and making those members a part of our ecosystem makes us healthier, stronger, and hardier in the long run.
Vince Carducci addressed such a thing in his comments in conjunction with the recent show he curated of Cranbrook students current and recently graduated who’ve stayed in the area (a growing and welcome trend), and the sort of contribution that they can bring to our area. The current show Pathways at Work : Detroit (which I run), tackles a similar subject, bringing together students from four MFA programs, which is part of our larger mission, intersecting the UM community, which can be as isolated as Cranbrook, with Detroit and the larger community at large.
In thinking about the need to embrace people coming from outside, it also makes me think about how much we need to embrace each other more. Detroit in and of itself is a tremendously diverse art community. While there are certainly some persistent themes to be had, defining Detroit art as a whole is near impossible. Over the years, I’ve observed and persistently commented on just how little we tend to mix with each other. We tend to stay on our own islands in this much larger sea of what this community has to offer. Two-in-one reviews, and occasional overviews have been my attempts to address this separation to some degree.
And while yes, not everything is for everyone, there’s something to be learned from one another, from celebrating what our community produces, even as we welcome in visitors from abroad. I get a lot of requests from far outside about Detroit, people who are curious about what goes on here and want to get involved. Many of them have already come and made this their home (see the Unsilent Night article as one example) , and more will continue coming.
As those from outside are curious about us and bring new energy to this place, I’d like to think that we too can be increasingly curious about ourselves. I’ve carved out a privileged position these last five and a half years, making it a point to know as much of this community as I could. In that time, I’ve seen so much creativity on display and energy on display and am grateful for the opportunity. It’s been quite an experience, and in sharing that perspective over this time, I hope I can encourage others to do the same. – Nick Sousanis