Donita Simpson, a resident of Royal Oak, Michigan, spends her time photographing established and emerging artists in Metro Detroit. She explores the artists, their studios and the newly created environment that exists between the artist and the photographer. In an effort to honor these artists, Simpson began the Detroit Artists Project in 1993 with select photographs of artists and fellow photographers. Over the years the series has grown to include painters, ceramists and musicians, and includes many artists of stature. The project has come to symbolize the spirit of metro Detroit, including: the old and the new, the simple and the complex, the quiet and the exciting, which emulate the nature of the city as it explodes in rebirth. Simpson’s latest exhibition, The Spirit of Detroit, continues to depict the artist community that lives and creates.
Simpson’s portraits reflect her love of people, her knowledge of the area art community, and the importance that she places on art and artists in the culture of Detroit and the local area.
“The portrait is a human interest story,” stated Simpson. “It is at once a window and a mirror for the artist. It is timeless and novel, it is ever changing. Portraits are wonderful and precious. They command our attention, we look at them again and again, and we are captivated and motivated by them. We are always interested in portraiture.”
Simpson has exhibited her work internationally and continues to show her work widely throughout the Midwest. Recently, her portrait of Gilda Snowden, also included in this latest show, has been chosen as a finalist in the Outwin- Boocheever Portrait Competition where it was chosen from 3000 images to hang in The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute for a period of one year. This portrait will then travel the country for an additional year. Simpson’s work is also in the collections of the Tweed Museum, Visual Studies Workshop, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Detroit Institute of Art and several private and corporate collections.
“My goal is to create an image that speaks of the intrinsic nature of the subject rather than a public persona, to portray an individual by capturing the incidental details of place and time to expose nature and essence,” said Simpson. “I approach each photographic endeavor like a conversation. I don’t always know where it will lead but I am a willing participant. The conversation often produces something fascinating.”
Simpson earned an MFA in photography and a BFA from Wayne State University. She has also served as an adjunct professor of photography at both Marygrove College and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
This multi-media art exhibit at the Gallery@VT is free and open to the public: Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and during public performances at the theater. The Gallery@VT is closed on holidays.
The Village Theater at Cherry Hill, located at 50400 Cherry Hill Road in Canton, is a regional center for the arts that offers the magic of live theatre, soul-stirring music, the thrill of the dance, and the enjoyment of fine art exhibits. For more information about this latest exhibition, please call 734/394-5300 or visit www.cantonvillagetheater.org.