Sunday, July 13, 2008

think about this phrase: "follow suit"

Makes me think of my racist grandpa (RIP) and his perfectly manicured hands.

I wrote this today:
I spent my first few years as a conscious being in a two bedroom apartment just east of Flint, MI with my baby brother, teenage sister, and single mom. My memories of the cramped apartment are varied, but the most positive all involve music. Our most valuable possession was a modern stereo; a record player, dual cassette tape deck, and radio. Next to it sat my mother's record collection and tape case. Music was one of the few things my mother would allow herself. It was not unusual to fall asleep to music at my house and even less unusual to wake up to it. The sounds that I heard must have thoroughly saturated my subconscious, for much of what my mother and sister were playing is responsible for my interests today.

In 1968 Black Sabbath created a sound so unlike previous rock 'n' roll that an entirely new description had to be coined, and thus heavy metal was born. Their lead was taken up by countless other bands throughout the world and the genre was quickly subdivided. We were listening to it all. My mom stayed true to the grandfathers of the sound, while my sister and her friends were buying the latest speed and thrash metal. The next female in line, I followed suit.

At the age of six, I began developing my musical taste, filtered through the matriarchs of the house. But quickly discovered what I preferred and what I didn’t — metal wasn’t the only music on rotation at our house, but it is what I most gravitate toward. It created my first awareness of culture and later helped shape my political views. My involvement with the sub-culture never waned and I became increasingly interested in the local scenes that were influenced by the music I grew up with. I became a consumer and scholar, which lead me to discover the tremendous influence that Swedish musicians have had on metal. D-beat, which was pioneered and popularized in part by Swedish bands, influenced my sister’s favorite bands. Those bands influenced other acts stateside, particularly in my home state. One of the earliest death metal bands was created in Flint, and they in-turn influenced death metal in Scandinavia. This exchange of ideas and styles continues today.

While studying art history and graphic design at the University of Michigan, I focused any self-guided studies on this sub-culture and found myself pursuing its histories as much as art’s histories. In graduate school at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, my practice has expanded to include assemblage from found materials, which utilize environmentally-sound underpinnings without overt mention. The goal is to change the questions in order to create alternate solutions. In this way, my practice mimics what countless musicians have done, specifically within this genre. We use what is at our disposal, what we are attracted to, and repurpose it for our needs, creating another category of work.

I believe there is a unique perspective within this section of society that is often overlooked. We tend to be loyal consumers, of both traditional and contemporary forms, avid collectors of media and message. There are few passive fans in our midst; most are engaged in the quality of the musicianship, are curious in the history as a means for new discovery, or are active in the recording of provenance. We tend to be very well networked. Maybe most importantly, we tend to question authority, therefore stimulating a true democracy. I see this as fertile territory which deserves more academic recording. I see the path to that scholarly awareness through visual art.