Looking Down at a City That's Rising

Looking Down at a City That's Rising

March 13, 2017

InkAddict is pleased to announce a series of blogs told through the lens of Felicia Fullwood. It's well known that Detroit is progressively moving towards the vision that so many people have for the city. Whether it be from a creative, entrepreneurial, or anything in between perspective, Detroit is unlike any city that has ever existed. So through Felicia's photos we want to take you through where Detroit was, where it is now, and where it's headed. But first, let us introduce you to Felicia Fullwood.


Felicia: To me, the definition of art is creating something that conveys your raw emotions and experiences into something people can relate to, no matter what medium it is or who approves of it. It’s like reaching into your soul, grabbing what means the most to you, and dumping your emotions out for the world to see. This could be through painting, music, photography, writing, performing, etc. For me, it’s documenting the city that I love in a way that the naked eye will never see.

SW sunrise (1)Southwest Fire Rise: Never in a million years did I think I would willingly wake up before the sun rises if I didn’t have to. That is, until I started shooting. The pure silence, knowing the city is still sleeping while you are watching the sky come to life with vibrant color really speaks to my soul and is one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve had shooting so far. This was taken from the roof of some abandoned lofts in Southwest, Detroit which is my second favorite place to shoot a sunrise.


Felicia:  Ever since I was a teenager I always felt like I lacked in artistic ability because most of my friends had already found their niche and were so talented. I tried many other mediums before stumbling upon photography with very little success, I always felt that it somehow fell short of what I was trying to accomplish. I slowly started exploring Detroit a little over a year ago after I got a job working downtown and was instantly stunned by the creative freedom that photography gave me, even with just a cell phone camera. I was hooked on documenting and capturing moments in my own way that most people don’t get to see. When I am shooting, it’s like I am in my own world where nothing else matters and for the first time ever, I felt like I found a true escape from the world.

Caddy Tower (8) Caddy Tower: One day on my lunchbreak, I saw two of my favorite Detroit photographers and they asked me if I wanted to go on an adventure. I told them I only had less than 30 minutes, but they assured me we could make it happen, and we sure did. This photo was taken from the roof of Cadillac Tower, which is a fully occupied building downtown that houses offices. It was the craziest feeling looking down at my work building and being so far above the hustle and bustle of the city on a weekday. It was my most memorable lunch break to date, even if I was a few minutes late.


Felicia:  The response I get from the people who view my work has continued to motivate me to go out every day and capture my favorite moments. To me, taking pictures truly means capturing memories that tell a story that you can relive over and over again every time you view the photo.

The photography community as a whole has played a huge role in my motivation. I have met so many amazing people along the way, who all inspire me in a different way, and I feed off of their vibes and inspiration to create something new. In doing so, I met some of the most impressive artists from all over, not just Detroit, and that has inspired me to want to travel the world and explore different cities.

Eastside fire (7)Eastside Fire: This photo was taken on Detroit’s east side in the middle of the summer and was one of the first fires that I made it to in time to shoot. As I watched the house burn to the ground, I couldn’t help but think about the memories of the past that were also going up in flames. Even though this was an abandoned house, at one time, a family considered it their home. Chatting with the fire department and surrounding neighbors while shooting and gaining information behind the history of the structure was such a bittersweet feeling, but also a huge reason that fires are one of my favorite things to shoot.


Felicia:  I would not be where I am today in photography if it wasn’t for Detroit. The past year, we have been in a state of rebirth and I get to witness the change at such a fast pace that I am overwhelmed with all there is to capture. It’s always changing, and there is always something new to document. There is never a dull moment in this city and I have never felt so at home.

Pnob ball (3)Penobscot Ball: This photo is one that I will NEVER forget. This was taken from inside of the orb that sits on top of the Penobscot building 650 feet in the sky. A few friends of mine volunteered to fix the neon lights that are responsible for lighting up the orb that is visible from up to 40 miles away, and I had the pleasure of being able to be the first female in history to climb to the top of the orb. Words will never ever be able to describe that feeling, but knowing that I am one of the very few people who were able to experience this view and have these photos will be something I’ll hold with me for the rest of my life.


Felicia:  The stigma that the mainstream media gives Detroit is so far from what I see on an everyday basis, and I do my best to show the true interpretation of this city, both the beauty and destruction. I don’t put out as much “ruin porn” as others do, because I don’t feel that expresses Detroit for what it truly is. However, I feel that capturing “ruin porn” does show how Detroit honestly is the most resilient city in the world. Even through all the devastation and loss we have faced, Detroit continues to rise and shine and that really is what I try to show in my work.

Fireworks (4)Penobscot Fireworks: My friends from Green Light Detroit are responsible for repairing the neon lights in the orb and they made a promise to the city that it would be finished before the fireworks went off. The morning of, it wasn’t looking good since there was still multiple strips that were burnt out and we were all beginning to get nervous. But, as I expected they were up there all morning working until the very last moment and they finished just in time to keep their promise. Being able to sit up on the platform with some of my closest friends and watch the fireworks go off, knowing what they had just accomplished and that I was a part of it was one of the most surreal feelings of my life and looking at this photo will remind me of that moment forever.


Felicia:  I don’t really have a specific location in the city that is my favorite to shoot, but I do get the most enjoyment out of shooting the skyline from different rooftops. There is just something about being up on a roof that I couldn’t begin to put into words. There is so many unique vantage points of the skyline from each roof that no picture is the same. Knowing that very few people get to see the city first hand from these vantage points is something I hold very sacred and I try to portray that in my work.

Book tower (5)Book Tower: Before I even knew what urban exploring was, I have always been intrigued by the stunning architecture of the Book Tower. From the ground, I had always dreamed what it would be like to stand on the roof of this beautiful building. Little did I know that in just a few years that would become a reality. I will never forget the moment that I popped my head out of the hatch after climbing 37 flights of stairs and had this live view for the first time. Knowing that my friends and I were the only people inside this iconic skyscraper that stands smack dab in the middle of downtown, literally left me speechless.


Felicia:  I became interested in urban exploring mostly by watching people that were already doing it on Instagram and other social media outlets and I knew that this was something I had to be a part of. I reached out to a few of the people that inspired me the most, and then back in March of this year, I attended the Nain Rouge parade and met up with some of them. After talking to them and hearing their experiences first hand, they offered to take me to the Packard Plant that very moment so that I could experience it for myself and I was instantly addicted and wanted to explore every inch of this city.

St, Curvy (6)Curvy: Growing up in a catholic family as a child, it was almost haunting to see the destruction that had taken place by scrappers and vandals inside the hollowed out abandonment. This photo was taken inside of the Woodward Presbyterian Church that was built in 1911, which closed in 2006, but I can’t help but think how beautiful it was in full function, and how many people experienced some of the most important moments of their life in this very room.


There so many funny stories that I have from urban exploring but the one that has stuck with me most is when I traveled to Chicago and visited the old Wrigley Gum Factory that was built in 1911, and closed in 2006. I went with a good friend from Detroit and we met up with two other Chicago explorers who showed us around. First of all, the entire factory still smelled like gum and there was still sucrose all over the floors. I remember walking through one floor that literally smelled EXACTLY like the flavor “Big Red”, which must have been where they made it. We went in the middle of the summer, and that day it was almost 95 degrees, so the sucrose on the floor became like quicksand. When we were walking through one floor, my friends shoes got stuck in the melted sucrose and I couldn’t help but laugh at him and stop to snap a few pictures. Little did I know, as I was standing there making fun of him, I was actually standing in even deeper pile of sucrose! When I tried to take a step to get out of it, I stepped right out of my shoes and socks and was then stuck in my bare feet! The others who weren’t stuck had to contain themselves from laughing and figure out how to help us without getting stuck themselves. 9-6-15 chicago day 1 (217)

They eventually ripped out a piece of lining from an old drawer to make a path to come save us. I have honestly never laughed so hard in my life. Once we were finally out, our shoes were completely ruined but that didn’t stop us from exploring the rest of the building with shoes doused in sucrose! We had both only brought one pair of shoes with us since it was such a short trip, so we ended up having to go to buy new shoes for the rest of the time we were there. It truly was something I will never forget, it is by far the most hilarious story I have from exploring to date, and we sure got some priceless photos out of it.

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Originally Published: Mon, 23 Nov 2015 19:30:18

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