Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum brings “The Spirit of Detroit” to SVSU

The Spirit of Detroit

By: Ryan Reichard, reporter

UNIVERSITY CENTER — The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University is hosting the exhibit “Motor City Icon: The Spirit of Detroit” from Oct. 5 to Jan. 19. The exhibit features artwork from various artists in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the era-defining sculpture. Inside the museum, the display is divided into four sections: historical documents and photographs, objects shown next to the “The Spirit of Detroit” (and, of course, “The Spirit of Detroit” itself), an area with a short-animated film and contemporary artwork.

According to Ed Fraga, a contemporary artist whose piece is featured in the exhibit, the story behind “The Spirit of Detroit” was based off of a biblical quote: “Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.”

So inspiring was the quote that Fraga also based his work off of it. His piece features veils over the photographs of people. Fraga did this to represent the part of the quote pertaining to the veil over the face.

“I used part of his [Marshall Fredericks’] [work] […] to draw [inspiration] from; [to learn]what his intention was, […] [to] honor what he did and [to] honor the spirits of the people that came beforehand,” says Fraga.

For artist Susan Goethel Campbell, “The Spirit of Detroit” is more than a sculpture, and is a symbol of community and support.

“‘The Spirit of Detroit’ to me is a lot about community and how artists support one another,” informs Campbell.

Campbell’s sentiment was echoed by other artists, such as Jeanne Bieri, whose piece displays an army blanket piece from World War II, in addition to buttons and other objects found in the streets of Detroit.

“People talk when they see the army blanket,” says Bieri. “I met a man the other day who was a marine, and he talked to me about the army blankets; how scratchy they were […] [but also] how important they were.”

While the city of Detroit itself has a poor reputation, Bieri believes that “The Spirit of Detroit” transcends that reputation and offers a much more optimistic take on the city. “What does ‘The Spirit of Detroit’ exemplify? That the spirit of Detroit and everything that is involved in Detroit […] is this kind of [continual] reawakening […] .”

Detroit is a city full of hope and culture, which is showing itself in the artists that live there.

“It’s always been a pretty rich place for arts and culture,” says Campbell “Artists here support themselves, support each other and care about each other’s well-being. You don’t always see that in other cities.”

Saginaw is not Detroit; but, you can get a sense of Detroit’s community and spirit up until Jan. 9 when “The Spirit of Detroit” leaves the SVSU campus.

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