Art Insider

The Other Art Cities Detroit Spotlight: Zora Bowens

The Other Art Fair is proud to present The Other Art Cities Detroit Spotlight. A new feature showcasing some of the best emerging talent from around the world. First stop Detroit!

Zora Bowens is a Detroit based photographer, activist and brand experience designer who prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 was working in Hong Kong. We asked her about her work, being an artist in Detroit and how her practice has evolved over the last six months.

Tell us a bit about yourself,

I am a fashion photographer and brand experience designer. My work revolves around experiences. Because that’s what life is about, and I think my art should be as well. I enjoy finding something unique and unusual that would entertain others.

What are you inspired by at the moment?

At the moment, I am inspired by the state of the world, right now. I’m inspired by  individuals. People who want to find their purpose in life. People who go out on a limb. I’m inspired by people willing to risk their lives for something better. I’m also inspired by change. Which is what’s happening in the world right now. I like the space in between stillness and motion. That strangeness is change. That strangeness also links to my interest in things that are unique and unusual. Leading to my favorite pieces being dreamlike or surreal.

Zora, on The Roach. a.k.a the freedom machine, protesting the deaths of George Floyd and Briana Taylor in Detroit

What are some of the best things about art in Detroit/ being an artist in Detroit?

The best thing about art in Detroit is…. Where do I start?  That you can almost just do it anywhere and see it everywhere. If you want to paint it, just ask the owner of the building. If you want to build a sculpture and put it somewhere, just do it. We love art. It makes a city that has had once so many downsides, happy. There’s tons of space here, people are nice, rent is cheap; and it makes for a great place for an artist to be. One feature we have for pure artist expression is “The Art Park” as we call it, Lincoln Street Art Park part Recycle Center part park of insane sculptures part rave space. But, they’re working on turning it into an entire artist district, And that just goes to show the culture of art in Detroit. People are so willing to collaborate and create here it’s actually pretty crazy. It’s like we feed on art. The art scene is incredible and it feels huge, but also feels like family.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on myself. But recently, I have taken an interest in older forms of media that I used such as film and painting. I’ve been creating 3D photos from film about the protest and I’ve also been painting my anger out about police brutality and corporations like Dolls Kill. I guess I’ve been making protest art with Randy.

How has your practice shifted over the last 6 months?

In the last 6 months my life has had a whirlwind of changes, causing interesting shifts in my practice, particularly branded experiences. I honestly thought my life was getting worse and worse when I had to leave my study in Hong Kong to come home in March because of COVID-19. And though, some models are afraid to come out of the house, I was still able to do some fashion photography and I even got a mobile studio. But, besides photography, I actually had the opportunity to try to bring the underground art scene into downtown (watered-down) Detroit with a branded experience pitch to Gucci. Because I think we should have a spot in the city we helped rebuild. Not monetarily, but culturally. This was important to me because brand experience is advertising for the individual. It’s for the corporation to care about the consumer. Circulating back to what I’m inspired by- currently, there’s a rise in individualism. A rise in empathy, compassion, and caring. So, my practice has shifted for the better because I see the world is ready for what I want to share with my art.

The Detroit Spotlight is the first in The Other Art Fair’s ‘Discover Other Art Cities’ series. The series aims to showcase some of the best emerging artists in undiscovered art hubs on our Online Studios platform, providing exposure to these up and coming stars and bringing collectors and buyers from around the world to new destinations.