How Carl Nielbock uses art to tell his story, our story and history
Published: September 12, 2012
If that weren't enough, Nielbock's labor of love is even more ambitious than re-creating four massive statues. Nielbock would like to re-create the entire top of Old City Hall, adorned with the replica statues and including the old clock tower, to give Detroiters a sense of their missing or lost history. Such an undertaking would require a great deal of money, skill and energy. Some scoff at the plan, claiming the amount of funding required would make it impossible.
But the Detroit Historical Society's senior curator, Joel Stone, is willing to give Nielbock a chance to come up with the funding and workable plan needed to pursue such an undertaking. While he's frank about the challenges Nielbock faces, he describes Carl as a dedicated artist with a "great idea."
"Having them hidden in a warehouse is no way to treat an artifact. They're pretty powerful pieces, and they tell a powerful story. Anything we can do to put this story in front of people is important. You can tell them a story, but if they can see the story, that makes the teaching a whole lot easier."
What's more, Nielbock points to the Frauenkirche in Dresden, a church destroyed by Allied bombardment during World War II, which was conserved as a ruin until the 1980s. Through thousands of private donations, a reconstruction effort took every stone and labeled it, created a comprehensive database of all the pieces that went into the original construction, and, finally, resurrected the church, incorporating any original pieces that could be recovered. The Frauenkirche now gets more than 2 million visitors per year. What might a monument to the destruction wreaked here by the bulldozer produce? If anybody's fit for such a demanding task, Nielbock is. Few understand the ins and outs of pre-welding technology — tapping, metal bending, rivets, nuts and bolts — as well as this historically rooted craftsman. And he has a passion for history that many metro Detroiters lack. After all, he had to travel thousands of miles to find out, essentially, where he came from. He's not about to let that precious heritage slip away for other Detroiters.
Carl Nielbock's studio, C.A.N. Art Handworks, will be open as part of the 2012 Detroit Design Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at 2264 Wilkins St., Detroit. For more information on the festival, see detroitdesignfestival.com.For more information on his projects, or to make donations, see his website at aomaionline.com.
Michael Jackman is senior editor of Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
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