June 11, 2018
Artist and Stamps Associate Professor Rebekah Modrak’s art practice is featured by journalist Valerie Vande Panne in a recent article published on the progressive news magazine Alternet. In Meet the Artist Using Media to Defang Capitalism, Vande Panne introduces the artworks Re Made Co. and Rethink Shinola, writing: “Humor and truth help expose profound colonialism, racism, and straight-up ridiculousness used to sell luxury products.”
You may have heard of Shinola, the racist shoe-polish company of the early 20th century whose brand was reinvented by hypercapitalists from Texas into the feel-good story of Detroit, marketing $1,100 watches and bicycles for more than what many Detroiters would pay for a car.
Shinola’s marketing might make rich white folk feel like they’re “saving” Detroit by purchasing one of those incredibly overpriced, made in China/assembled in the USA by poor black people, pieces. But what the company is really doing is reinforcing a racist, plantation mentality, and selling it to the world like they are martyrs saving Detroit with each and every watch that bears its name.
But, if you’re not media and history savvy, you probably don’t know that. Enter Rebekah Modrak, an artist and professor at University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design.