Izu’s, and Detroit’s, Sacred Places

Yesterday, the DIA had the distinct honor of hosting Kenro Izu at an artist’s lecture, during which he described his 30-plus years of photographing sacred places around the world. For Izu, it is a personal journey that has taken him from recognizing the enduring sacredness surrounding ancient stone structures, to witnessing the impermanence of existence — both human and architectural, to, recently, allowing himself exposure to the sacred inner spirit of the residents of Bhutan when he photographed them. (Izu’s current traveling exhibition is entitled “Bhutan: the Sacred Within”). Happily for us, Izu’s personal quest and his desire to communicate his vision has yielded a wonderful corpus of photographs that is inspirational on so many levels. I think many will agree with me when I say that viewing his work is, in itself, a spiritual experience.

It is this personal connection to the subject that I found so prevalent in the entries to our Detroit’s Sacred Places competition. Many of you had personal stories to tell when describing the moment, object, or site you photographed. Your stories and histories were as diverse as this greater Detroit area we call home, and I truly enjoyed viewing your submissions and reading your descriptions. As my fellow jurors Nancy Barr and Kyohei Abe commented, we selected the winners with an awareness of Izu’s approach to his work. We felt that the winning entries were powerful visual images, all of them replete with an awareness of Detroit’s history. The idea of sacredness translates from the personal meaning these sites embody for the photographers, and in the case of the 1st and 2nd prize winners, a tangible sense of hope for the future. Personally, I find these entries quite moving, and I can sense the affection all of our photographers have for this rough-and-tumble city.

Please accept my sincere “thank you” and “congratulations” to all of our participants. We are truly gratified by your enthusiastic response to our first Flickr photo contest, and to Izu’s exhibition and lecture. We hope to see you soon and often at the DIA.

Amelia Chau


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