I have never been in a city as silent as Detroit. It was once the 4th largest city in the United States, now 40% abandoned. 1-in-50 of its million residents is homeless. Where there was once a thriving, bustling community there is now packs of wild dogs and tumbleweed. What is left is a modern day Pompeii of burnt shells and discarded objects. It is not quiet like an open country field. It is silent, like a theater of empty seats. It is not just empty, but abandoned.

While a student at a small art school deep in the heart of the city, I heard a story. My school had just purchased a nearby abandoned home that had once been the home of a wealthy auto baron that had once held Whistler’s breathtaking Peacock Room. It now sat rotting, the roof open to the elements. They went inside to assess the damages and found the remnants of breathtaking murals, craftsman tiles, and beautiful paintings left rotting in their places.

To me, the abandoned homes became shrines full of mysteries and artifacts; shelters for immense beauty. These homes held so much time. So much time to sit and contemplate: the ripped up bed, the abandoned dinner, and the tree growing through the living room. Who put that hole in the wall? Why did they leave their clothes in the closet? Whose dentures are those? Silence.

I document Detroit through representational painting in the tradition of the old masters – an abandoned art form for my abandoned city. A gift of time retelling – re-asking – over and over in layers that both refines and obscures.