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Wayne State University Press

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We Are Woodbridge

Elene Usdinintroduction by Sarah Rose Sharp

Detroit, Photography

Published: October 2020
ISBN: 9780578644042
Pages: 144 Size: 8 x 10
Illustrations: 150 color illus.

Elene Usdin first came to Detroit in 2014, for a show at the Museum of New Art (MONA). Since then, she has been compelled to return, taking portraits and meeting new people with each visit. In 2019, she was the inaugural artist-in-residence at Art in Woodbridge, with the mission to take a collective portrait of the arty and eclectic neighborhood, positioned just adjacent to Wayne State University and the Midtown/Cass Corridor area. Some of the residents are transitional—students, artists, faculty—and others have been in Woodbridge for generations, making it one of Detroit’s most diverse and eye-catching neighborhoods, rich with public art and living history.

Usdin’s portraits reflect her ability to connect deeply with her subjects; each seems to capture a resident or environment within Woodbridge completely on their own terms. The artist shoots both analog film and digital; and for the second wave of wintertime photos, she worked with a special camera lent to her by Fuji Film. Usdin is an internationally-recognized working photographer, as well as an accomplished illustrator, and supplements her photographs with hand-drawn maps and notes on her Woodbridge experience. The book comes together as a unified and gorgeous look at a thriving Detroit neighborhood, through the eyes of a foreign artist who already seems very much at home.

Elene Usdin graduated from the National Superior School of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1996. She began her career as an illustrator and visual artist. Since 2014, she has started a personal ongoing project of photographic portraiture in Detroit. The Museum of New Art and Gallery Camille exhibited her works in 2014 and 2018.

Rooting from the inspiration of students, artists, faculty and the diverse neighborhood of Woodbridge, Usdin has created her newest masterpiece.

– Alexandra Lee, Detroitist