Introduction and Concept:


In summer 2016, I will retrace the 1500-mile trek of Antoine Cadillac by driving my 1998 Cadillac DeVille from Detroit, Michigan to Quebec City, Quebec and back. Antoine Cadillac was a French explorer, politician, adventurer, diplomat, trapper and trader in New France. He founded Fort Pontchartrain in 1701 which led to the development of the modern city of Detroit. The Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors is named after Antoine Cadillac, and the company’s crest is based on his coat of arms. Cadillac is a symbol of American luxury, style and elegance, and the DeVille is one the last remaining vehicles assembled in Detroit (Motor City). For this trek, I will be driving a pearl white DeVille. In Native American tradition, the albino has healing powers and is considered sacred and magical. When my journey is complete, the vehicle will be ceremonially shot, skinned, ground down and used for medicinal purposes.


I am designing an automobile skin that will act as a soft monument or a mobile message board to connect with the local populations I will encounter throughout my journey. The skin will be used to collect stories and develop a connection with events that happened 315 years ago. This vehicle skin is designed with an image of the Detroit Municipal Flag, the Cadillac Coat of Arms, regional Native American iconography, Quebec City imagery and Detroit imagery. The color scheme for this project is red, blue and yellow (triadic color harmony) and is based on Detroit’s flag.


While traveling, I will collaborate with universities, art centers, tribal colleges and Native peoples. I will interview people along my route and visit reservations, museums, battlegrounds and ceremonial sites to research Native American art collections. I will produce photographs, videos, collage and watercolor drawings while developing collaborative works that are site-specific and time-based pieces. Each location will have an art piece dedicated to the historical context of Antoine Cadillac that addresses the importance of remembering the events that shaped the region. 


I will encourage each individual with whom I come into contact to decorate the vehicle skin. At the beginning of the trek, the vehicle skin will be a blank canvas, and each mark, sticker, dent and repair will be a testament to the rich cultural dialog of the journey. This project is the convergence of years of dedicated research into multicultural identity and the positioning of Native American artists in a contemporary context. It is also a means of transitioning my theories about cultural identity into a tangible body of work. 


As a displaced Northerner living in the American South, I am finding connections to my northern, post-industrial roots and the fragments that have led to the demise of the once great modern industrial city of Detroit. What happened to post-industrial Detroit? Where did the good times go? What does the future hold? The answer is more than a single soundbite or political rhetoric. Through visiting with people, I will find answers. This project is the fourth installment in my on-going investigation into cultural identity and the physical contemporary landscape.


Thank you,


Christopher Olszewski

 

Christopher Olszewski

“You, Me and The DeVille Makes Three: Vision Quest 2016”

Automobile Skins from 2016

Laramie, Memphis, Tallahassee Automobile Skin _ 2016

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Laramie, Memphis, Tallahassee Automobile Skin _ 2016

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Laramie, Memphis, Tallahassee Automobile Skin _ 2016

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Mobile Skin_2016

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Mobile Skin_2016

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Mobile Skin_2016 (Detail)

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet

Mobile Skin_2016 (Detail)

Acrylic paint, paint markers, sharpie on vinyl

roughly 24 x 15 feet