Over the past 25 years, award-winning ethnographer and photographer Camilo José Vergara has traveled annually to Detroit to document not only the city’s precipitous decline, but also how its residents have survived. From the 1970s through the 1990s, changes in Detroit were almost all for the worse, as the fabric of the city was erased through neglect and abandonment. But over the last decade, the city has seen the beginnings of a positive transformation. Vergara’s photographs, collected in Detroit Is No Dry Bones, provide unique documentation of revival. Beyond the fate of the city’s buildings, Vergara captures the distinct culture of this largely African-American city and documents re-purposed structures, including local churches that have re-occupied old bank buildings and other institutions of the past that carry unexpectedly powerful architectural and spiritual force.
Camilo Jose Vergara is a photographer and author of American Ruins.