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Detroit is home, but I’ve left several times for extended periods;  I worked and camped in southeast Alaska for a spring in 2017, and hiked alone 500 miles across Colorado in 2019, rambled in the southwest in my car. These experiences have been formative; immediate and intense landscapes, complete immersion in the outdoors in a way that I had never got from a camping trip before.

I landed back in Detroit 4 months before Covid. In the early days of the pandemic, faced with the reality that I’d be there for a while, I began to draw on the experiences swirling inside me, and lean into what was available to me in terms of connection to land. I got a field guide for birds. Then wildflowers, trees, and mushrooms. I got binoculars, and my already daily walks took on a richer flavor. I became curious about the land I was on, and the dichotomy of ‘wilderness’ and ‘city’ blurred and dissolved.  In retrospect, I was, and am, part of a larger consciousness that had a moment during this time period. People had time, and space, and a lot of us directed that toward a connection to home. 

Naturally, this reached it’s first culmination for me in a book I made for the park I walk in everyday. It was a love letter to the land, an attempt to share what I was experiencing and to bring my drawings together into one place.  The zine was meant to be kid-friendly and earnest, a rejection of the kind of cheap cynical rhetoric that would normally surround a conversation about nature in Detroit. Placed in a box off trail, I periodically stocked copies of the zine which was meant to be stumbled upon by passersby. I hoped to encourage others to follow the curiosities they’d been feeling about this place.  The rejection of the “wasteland” mentality galvanized my fanaticism, especially considering these narratives are harmful to the residents, my neighbors and friends. What stories are you telling yourself about home, and what time scales are you looking at? This journey is emergent in me, and has taken on different colors in the time that I’ve been exploring it. Much of it has been said before. The project is how to not reinvent the wheel, but to sketch something that can communicate my experience of it in a new way.

28 RISO printed pages

2-color silkscreen cover

printing and design help from Smallworks (Detroit)

The Wahnabezee Wanderer
 

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