University Art Gallery brings postmodern art from Detroit to CMU


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Brooke Mayle/Assistant Photo Editor Exhibit coordinator Julia Myers, an art history professor from Eastern Michigan University during a presentation for the Cass Corridor Gallery opening Thursday night at the University Art Gallery.

Pictures, paintings and drawings reflecting the run-down industrial area of Detroit called Cass Corridor, near Wayne State University, are on display now at the University Art Gallery.

"Subverting Modernism: the Cass Corridor Revisited 1966-1980" will be on display until Feb. 9.

Exhibit coordinator Julia Myers, an art history professor from Eastern Michigan University, collaborated with Wayne State to curate the exhibit, which showcases 35 pieces of artwork from the many different artists of the Cass Corridor.

The art gallery has been taken back to the postmodern era with artwork from downtown Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists. The works were created in the late ‘60s to 1980 by artists who believed that “allusion should come back into art,” Myers said at the gallery's opening reception last Thursday.

These artists pushed the boundaries of the early 20th century philosophy of modernism with a “revolutionary spirit,” she said.

Artist Robert Sestok, who attended the exhibit's reception, had five pieces of artwork showcased in the exhibit.

"Early in my career, the 'downtown' experience inspired deconstructivist methods for creating art. People were using found objects and other non-traditional materials in their work, tearing things apart and reconstructing them–processes that harmonized with the reality of the Cass Corridor in the '60s and '70s," Sestok said in his artist statement.

The artists, who resided in abandoned living quarters in Cass Corridor, became involved in a new art movement. Postmodern art uses abstract expressionism and industrial, as well as natural, materials. They also took inspiration from their surroundings.

“This was at a time when the Detroit area was in decay,” Myers said.

Images of the industrial decay, destruction, abandonment and their lifestyles are reflected in the artists' works.

Art student and Mount Pleasant senior David Birkam said he found the works to be as if the artists “took modernism and flipped it on its head.”

Three Rivers senior Larissa Parker said the art exhibit was like “walking into an art history class on exhibit.”

Parker, an art major and sculptor, said she found walking alongside works similar to those she saw in her art history books extremely helpful to her own work.


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