here in flint | flint, mi
‘creativity is our only weapon against entropy’
― dean cavanagh
it was late afternoon on may 11th, 2019 when we found ourselves outside an abandoned church in flint, michigan. the white paint of its exterior had cracked into almost vein-like patterns, as though the building was asserting its vitality even as the broken windows and gutted interior signaled that the house of worship’s life had come to an end. we were gathered to celebrate the birthday of cbloxx of nomad clan. joe schipani, flint public art project’s director, surprised cbloxx with this space to paint as a birthday gift. with the sun setting outside, nomad clan stepped back to reveal their completed mural. the word ENTROPY emblazoned on the wall, crowned and entwined with a burning match.
entropy, a key principle in thermodynamics, is the inevitable decline of a system into disorder, a process that is always occurring and can only be countered by expending energy. nothing stays pristine. everything is part of a system of decay and renewal, but that renewal only happens with effort. art offers a way to reflect on this march towards decay and chaos, but it’s also a way to arrest time, to give order to an idea, and to channel energies as a means of giving shape to the future. when viewed through the lens of creativity, entropy can serve as a catalyst for change. it can be an impetus for the exchange of ideas and energy. when presented with the opportunity to collaborate with nomad clan on a new mural for their school campus, the jaguars of flint southwestern academy delivered on entropy’s hidden potential.
this visit to flint was the cultivation of a seed planted by nomad clan, COlabs and flint public art project in october of 2018. the team coordinated with suzanne lossing, flint southwestern academy’s incredible art teacher, to develop a week-long ‘muralism 101’ course for her class of creative young people. alex ‘skittles’ dunnam and demetria mull served as student leaders for the project. after months of planning, ‘muralism 101’ class was finally in session. the nomads collected ideas from the students, who spoke about flint’s unique characteristics, issues that matter in the community, and their hopes for the future. armed with history, emotions, and conceptual ideas, the group fleshed out potential designs for a school mural to represent aspects of life specific to vehicle city.
the ‘muralism 101’ curriculum laid down by nomad clan was thorough and intensive, covering everything from stencils to shading techniques to cap selection. together, and often while singing at the top of their lungs, the students traded strokes with nomad clan as they converted the entrance wall of their school into a work of art. as production came to a close, skittles reflected on the meaning of the mural they’d created. it symbolizes, among other things, the bond flint residents share as a result of entropy they’ve weathered together. things might not be perfect in flint, but with each visit we learn more about the potential of this resilient community. as skittles attests, ‘we do positive things, here in flint.’
we present this film in gratitude to the flint southwestern academy jaguars and flint public art project, who showed us where to look.