MATTHEW J. PIPER
Essay'd is a community oriented publishing and curatorial project I helped found in 2016. We publish short, illustrated essays about Detroit artists, organize exhibitions of their work, and host writing and curatorial workshops, all with the goal of expanding participation in the conversation about Detroit art. Between 2016-18 we worked with Wayne State University Press to publish three volumes of our essays in book form. (Buy them here: Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3.) In addition to contributing essays, teaching workshops, and leading the publication of the books, I'm Essay'd's editor-in-chief.
Poster by Lynne Avadenka 2016
Through Essay'd I co-create and teach intensive, month-long art writing workshops. The most impactful of these to date have been held at Room Project, a space for women and non-binary writers and artists, and include Art Writing As an Act of Love, co-taught with writer and technologist Bridget Goodbody of Beholdr, and Art Writing for Artists, co-taught with writer Rachel Harkai. Workshop goals include getting participants more familiar/comfortable with the writing process, producing writing that can advance their practice, and growing their creative/professional networks.
City of Art
City of Art is an ongoing research project about the lingering effects of the socially engaged, abstract environmental art that proliferated in and around Detroit in the late 1960s and early '70s. With it I am seeking to document, contextualize, and assess a moment in time between the 1967 Detroit Rebellion and today, a period in which environmental art has been employed by artists and institutions as a countermeasure against the alienating, demoralizing, and atomizing experience of contemporary life in Detroit.
"After Aris" by Mitch Cope, 2015, photographed 2018
For National Poetry Month (April) in 2021, I introduced and read aloud a poem a day on my Instagram. This was very much a pandemic project, made out of materials at hand and a way to get myself warmed up after a long break from creative work. It was also about trying something new, getting some social use out of the books on my shelf, and setting aside time each day for study and sharing. Watch the videos here.
In partnership with The Hinterlands and Power House Productions, I host an evening of dance-for-camera films/videos every four years (on Leap Day!) at Play House in Detroit's Banglatown neighborhood. My goal is to expose a Detroit audience to a diverse assortment of inspiriting, rarely screened short films in which the human body in motion is the central focus. Learn about the most recent Leap Night here.
In 2018 I curated a mini-retrospective of work by Detroit visual artist David Rubello as part of Work Aesthetic, a multi-artist exhibition held at the Anton Art Center and curated by Steve Panton for Essay'd. My charge was to condense a prolific 60 year career in abstract art into 15 works that succinctly illustrated the artist's evolution. See photos here.
In 2014, in response to the erasure of a beloved 40 year old mural in downtown Detroit, I worked with artist and web developer Jonathan Gabel to make an interactive web feature that tells the story of the mural, David Rubello (the artist who created it), and the circumstances around its realization and destruction. I'm grateful to the editors of the Detroit art journal Infinite Mile for their patience, encouragement, and support in publishing it and for hosting it on their site.
My Name is Not Craigslist is a collection of short audio poems made out of found fragments of Google voice transcripts in 2018. I was inspired to make it after several years of reading Google AI's frequently hilarious and occasionally beautiful mis-transcriptions of voice messages from my and my husband's day jobs. Voice-to-text technology is getting better all the time, but I'm glad I got the chance to experience the historical moment when a day at the office could be punctuated by the weird poetry of machine intelligence trying to understand the language of human wants and needs.
In response to a writing prompt from a friend ("Write something about rocks") I made this short, autobiographical book, which collects stories and photographs relating to objects in my home that hold both personal and geological significance, such as a dinosaur bone given to me by my maternal grandmother and a 4 billion year old rock I received from my paleontologist cousin as a wedding present. It is available for purchase from Blurb.