(Dutch, b. 1977; resides in Detroit, Michigan)
Like a number of photographers before her, Corine Vermeulen is using photography to examine the city of Detroit, but in her series Your Town Tomorrow she doesn’t focus on its notorious—and well documented—urban blight, or its landscape of neglected lots and shuttered factories. Instead she documents community gardens, urban prairies, the personalized spaces of the homeless, and new plantings on abandoned properties. Additionally, Vermeulen also photographs some of the people who are coordinating and participating in these efforts, in some instances including their commentary or biography as accompanying text.
The title of this series comes from a passage in the autobiography of Coleman Young—Detroit’s mayor from 1973 to 1994—which he published after his last term. Young writes, “In the evolutionary urban order, Detroit today has always been your town tomorrow… [It] remains a surpassingly purposeful place, as important to the nation right now as it has ever been—maybe more so, because right now it is telling us that the cities are in trouble.”
In contrast to Young’s grim prophecy of a “catastrophic urban meltdown” on a national level however, presaged by Detroit’s decline, Vermeulen’s photographs are more hopeful. Without denying Detroit’s ailments, she directs our attention to new kinds of urbanism and attempts at revitalization on a grass-roots level.
Born in Gouda, the Netherlands, Vermeulen now lives and works in Southwest Detroit. She completed an MFA in Photography at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook, Michigan, and a BFA at the Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Her photographs have been exhibited at the Museum of New Art, Pontiac, Michigan; the Wainger Gallery, Cranbrook Museum of Art, and other venues. She has twice been the recipient of project grants from the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB).