CCS and Detroit Historical Society document downtown, again
In the 1970s, photographer and College for Creative Studies professor Bill Rauhauser — legendary dean of Detroit “street photography” — had students go out and shoot iconic scenes of the city’s downtown.
In a project with the Detroit Historical Society, Matthew Chung’s CCS photo students recreated those images. This photo show forms a small but fascinating part of this year’s CCS “Student Exhibition,” which is free and open to the public through May 27 on floors 8-11 of the school’s Taubman Center.
“The students in the 1970s made a ton of great work,” Chung says, “and the Historical Society picked 1,500 of those images to accession.” Today, thanks to a Knight Foundation grant, the Society will also acquire the documentary pictures Chung’s students created.
The contemporary pictures have been framed with the earlier black-and-white images in handsome diptychs — illustrating ways in which specific vistas have or have not changed.
The good-looking photo show is in a small gallery on the ninth floor.
The Fisher Building was Jeremy Rafter’s subject, shot from an intersection just west of the tower.
“I’m a very technical person,” says Rafter, a junior who wants to go into commercial and architectural photography. “So I liked trying to reproduce an earlier photo.”
Most everything looks about the same, but in one instance that similarity was confusing.
“The tree in the foreground apparently hasn’t grown at all in 40 years,” he said.
The old Metropole Hotel at 630 Woodward Ave. was senior Cyndi Elledge’s subject, located just south of Campus Martius.
The original black-and-white shot shows the hotel’s sign above the entrance, with a pedestrian hurrying by on the left.
But when Elledge finally located the address, no mean feat, both entrance and sign had completely vanished — replaced by a blank black wall with a “Bedrock” sign in large white letters, and “Opportunity Detroit” sign off to the right.
The fact that the original building had disappeared, Elledge says, “makes for a better photograph — one that illustrates the change that’s taken place.”
With admirable creative license, junior Haomin Wei shot different buildings that nonetheless shared two key traits: Each had plate glass on two sides, so you can see right through them, and in each a woman was standing with her hands on her head.
The 1970s photo was an elegant picture of the glass cube that constitutes the lobby of Yamasaki’s 1 Woodward Ave., with its statue of a female nude outside, who seems to be checking her hair.
Wei’s contemporary shot was of American Coney Island, which also has plate glass on two sides you can also see right through. Even better, the photographer caught a woman out front putting her hands to her head — in precisely the same fashion as the statue.
Can’t get to the CCS show? The photos from Chung’s class will be exhibited at the Detroit Historical Museum, June 18-July 24.
‘2016 College for Creative Studies Student Exhibition’
Through May 27
Taubman Center, 460 W. Baltimore, Detroit Floors 1, 8-11
10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday