Upcycled Inspiration: Rebuilding Detroit’s History | Family Pictures USA

Upcycled Inspiration: Rebuilding Detroit’s History | Family Pictures USA

Family Pictures USA once you see America
through family pictures, you’ll never see this
country the same way again. THOMAS: Walking around the
streets of Detroit, I see the city’s legendary
creativity on full display. What some see as trash, Detroit artist Tim Burke
sees as raw materials. I asked Tim to share
a photo with me to better understand
his inspiration. TIM: This is a much younger Tim THOMAS: And who’s this with you? TIM: That’s my daughter Arly. She must have been
about 10 years old so I must have been 30. That’s when I was weekend Dad- divorced and seeing
Arly on the weekends. THOMAS: Your life has changed
a lot since then or is it pretty much similar? TIM: Three years prior to this photo, I had a crash and
burn in my life. I had moved in with a family
friend who was a therapist. That’s when I started to
address the trauma in my life from the age of
7 until I was 19 being brought up in
a violent, alcoholic, drug-addicted family. That family friend
who was a therapist, he threw two rusty nails and
some twine on the kitchen table and said, “Here, make
something out of that.” Yeah, and I’m like, “Make what?” I didn’t know what to make and did the best I could. I made a little cross
that he could wear. I said, “That’s
the best I can do.” He’s like, “Oh, that’s
great, that’s great!” He would bring stuff home and
give me art projects to do. THOMAS: So this was the
beginning of you becoming an artist in some ways, this
work that you’ve been doing. TIM: Right. From that little cross to now this here. You know, 30 years later. THOMAS: You’ve been going around to
different places in Detroit and… getting materials and turning it into art. Yes. (percussive music) TIM: The majority of these are
from the Piquette Market. It was on John R. And Piquette. It was a meat and fish market. Prior to it being the
meat and fish market, it was the Studebaker
car company that
was here in Detroit. Studebaker left, that building
became the Piquette Market. It caught fire 10 years ago. I got these burnt
timbers from there. So these are totemic… symbols, right? And they talk about our past
here in Detroit, places where- lots of people shopped
at the Piquette Market, the meat and fish market. So, you know, history. And this is also a piece
of the Lafayette Building downtown Detroit. Built in 1927. A lot of preservationists
tried to get them to save that building. It was a solid building. A lot of buildings that had
been torn down in Detroit were saveable. It’s about money. It’s cheaper to tear
it down and build new than it is to try to
restore the building. (percussive music) TIM: And as a metaphor, building or
rebuilding in a sense- I know I’m not rebuilding
the entire city- but I’m giving it
another spin on that by using broken-down material to make beautiful
pieces of art with. As much as I was building
my inner self with art, coming from a
broken-down kind of life. THOMAS: Through his artwork, Tim has
given his life new meaning. And at the same time, he
brings parts of old Detroit back to life. Want to see more videos about family photographs? Hit the subscribe button.

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