The Fist, by sculptor Robert Graham, serves a greater duty to the city of Detroit beyond a visual monument. It represents our strength and determination to persevere through and never allow defeat in face of any difficulty. It's importance lies not only in it's colossal size, but also in its meaning as an emblem of our power. As crucial it is right now for Detroit to regain its power as it rises from the ashes of turbulent times, we must remember where we've been to know where we're going.
And like Detroit, it is important for me also, to never forget where my passion for the arts started. Being surrounded by deep rooted history intrigued me to search further beyond the surface of these man-made buildings and sculptures. Detroit has fostered my passion for Art History by providing me with a University that was surrounded by Art Institutions that have worked hard to enrich and include our community in a constantly changing and complex art society.
Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, my school district was dedicated to taking us on field trips to museums downtown since elementary school to high school. As I attended college at Wayne State University, I had the opportunity to be in walking distance of these museums alongside the galleries of WSU art department. Institutions such as Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, or MOCAD, and most importantly for me, Detroit Institute of Arts, the DIA.
It was here, in the galleries of the DIA, I would spend my free time in between classes taking in some of the world's most famous artworks that call Detroit home. Just a two block walk from campus, after the Detroit Public Library, stood the recognizable The Thinker statute on Woodward Avenue in front of the steps that lead me to my oasis.
From Friday Nights at the DIA filled with family activities, to the musical programs in Rivera Court, where a four wall mural paying homage to the motor industry was painted by the muralist himself, Diego Rivera, and to doing lunch in Kresge Court with friends during the semester, I will never forget the place that instilled in me the very knowledge and passion I have for art today.
I go back to The Fist, to prove a point as to why it's important to acknowledge where you've been to know where you want to go. In Art School they teach us that any new idea is not really a "new" idea, because each idea is really just an inspiration of something that came perviously before it. My Egyptian Art History professor, William H. Peck, had the opportunity to meet Robert Graham at the unveiling of his sculpture for the city of Detroit and with no hesitation asked Graham if The Fist was inspired by the left arm of the Egyptian colossal statute of Amunhotep III, to which Graham openly denied any "copying." You be the judge...!
As hard it is to deny the resemblance, one can not take away from the creative endeavor of the artist who was most likely inspired by an idea and transformed it into his own vision. Many have compared Detroit to fallen civilizations such as Egypt, Rome, or Greece and The Fist can be interpreted in many different ways by the people who view it.
This is the beauty of art, that in some shape or form, everything around us is connected and that we perceive things based on our knowledge so the art around us speaks to us in our own special way. I could go on forever talking about Detroit and all the Artworks I've come across, interacted with, and studied. How each one of them inspired me in my own art projects and where my ideas originated from. But I'll save that for when you want to spend a day with me in my Detroit...just talking about art. I can never be thankful enough for my colossal beginnings in Detroit. Everything I've learned from this city, everything I've experienced in this city, will inspire me in everything I plan to do in Chicago.