The book launch for “Essay’d: 30 Detroit Artists,” a Wayne State University Press publication, was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit on August 4.
“Essay’d: 30 Detroit Artists” is an off-shoot of a website that carries the same name. The book contains a series of essays written by WSU professor Dennis A. Nawrocki, Detroit gallerist Steve Panton and art critics Matthew Piper, WSU alumnus (B.A. in English and film studies, '06; MLIS, '10) and Sarah Rose Sharp.
The book, a monthly writing project, details the past and current work of each of the 30 featured contemporary artists as well as more intimate information including the thought process behind their art.
Jane Ferreyra, the WSU Press director, said that the press was excited to be behind the publication.
“We have a commitment to this community, in particular to the art community of Detroit,” she said. “We envision this as just the very first volume of an 'Essay’d' series.”
Some of the artists included in the work are Nicole Macdonald, the artist behind The Detroit Portrait Series and Saffell Gardner, a WSU alumnus and a 2015 recipient of the Kresge Artist Fellowship.
According to the WSU Press website, although the authors choose the artists they feature, they do not label the featured artists as the “best” of Detroit, and they strive to create “a platform for Detroit artists, not a pedestal.”
Salvador Salort-Pons, the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, is quoted on the back cover.
“Wayne State University Press has captured the vibrancy of the contemporary art community at this critical moment of Detroit’s cultural renaissance,” he said.
Kresge Literary Arts Fellow Marsha Music, a Detroit native and acclaimed essayist, spoke at the book launch.
“Detroit arts have tended to be invisible in many respects...despite the fact that Detroit is quite simply one of the most creative cities on the earth,” she said. "This book is an attempt to take cloak off the Detroit artists. We are not invisible.”
“Essay’d” creators aim to expand the project with more gallery exhibitions and new essays on local artists.
“This is an expansive, ongoing project that the four of us and our collaborators are embarking on,” said Matthew Piper, one of the authors of the book.
Art created by ten of the 30 featured artists in “Essay’d” is on display at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art until September 3.
The center is also holding two evenings dedicated to the reading of essays profiling the current class of artists on August 13 and September 3.
Three new essays covering the artists in the current exhibition are to be released in September on the “Essay’d” website.
The “Essay’d” authors plan to increase the number of its writers. They are currently organizing workshops later this year for individuals interested in learning how to write about art.
“Essay’d: 30 Detroit Artists” was published August 2016 and written, edited and compiled by Nawrocki, Panton, Piper and Sharp.
The book is available for purchase through the WSU Press for $25.
For more information on “Essay’d” visit the Facebook page.