4B - Thursday, February 4, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4B - Thursday, February 4, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
From Page 3B
ty that surrounds them. So it's important for them to
give back and appreciate others," he said.
The foundations of the IMU brand are really in its
community service endeavors. Fashion is the perfect
vehicle to spread this type of message, because fash-
ion isn't just about clothing - it's about making state-
ments. People convey their beliefs and values through
their clothing. With his brand, Merritt hopes to con-
vey the message of happiness and community service
that he is so passionate about.
"Through our community service projects, we
hope to provide a direct impact on memories that will
not be forgotten, but missed," Merritt said.
Merritt views the brand as a challenge: Every IMU
employee is required to put in eight to ten hours of
community service per month. But he extends the
challenge to customers as well, with each t-shirt rep-
resenting and encouraging an hour of community
service from customers.
Customers who purchase an IMU T-shirt and then
do an hour of community service receive 20 percent
off their next purchase.
While his company is involved in many projects
in the Detroit metropolitan area, Merritt is most
passionate about the convergence of arts and aca-
demics in the educational system. Accordingly, IMU
partnered with the educational organization Beyond
Basics to host the Thirkell Elementary MLK Jr.
Expressions Contest, in which both organizations
helped young students write and illustrate stories.
"Thirkell students and teachers were very touched
by the MLK Expressions experience. They loved hav-
ing the oportunity to bond with a group as diverse
as the IMU Inc. team. Everyone left our room with
ear-to-ear smiles," Beyond Basics Program Director
Khadigah Alasry said.
Eighteen semi-finalists will receive awards for both
writing and art. Prizes include private coachingsessions
with a professional author or artist, as well as a compi-
lation of a book including work from each semi-finalist.
Finally, in honor of Black History Month, the IMU team
will travel back to Thirkell Elementary to host various
prominent figures who lived during the Civil Rights
Movement to share their inspiring experiences with
students. Through these efforts, IMU is devoted to
keeping the arts alive in schools.
Cox, a Detroit native, finds the community ser-
vice work to be especially meaningful, because
IMU is ultimately working toward bettering the
educational system that she went through.
"Fashion is often solely superficial, but the IMU
brand is focused on bettering the surrounding com-
munity, especially in Detroit where you can really
make a difference," Cox said.
She also talked of the benefits of working under
someone as modest and approachable as Merritt.
"(Merritt) is young and is always interested in get-
ting our input. You really feel like you're an integral
part of the brand," Cox said.
As long as the brand stays true to its altruistic,
community service-oriented vision, Merritt hopes to
expand the company.
He views Ann Arbor as the ideal location for
the foundation of the IMU brand and is looking for
University students like Cox who are interested in
"We offer class credit for fashion students," Mer-
ritt said. "From photography to economics to engi-
neering, we want it all."
As an intern, Cox works at IMU four hours a week,
doing community service work, making fundraising
schedules, writing blog posts and discussing ways to
expand the brand.
This month, IMU is unveiling IMUGrind with the
new line, "IMU is reclaiming plaid."
"We are taking what was once worn primarily by
blue collar workers, lumberjacks and farmers, and
making it our own." Merritt explained.
Whether you're an artist, scholar, athlete or lum-
berjack, IMU supports your grind and invites you to
pursue your passions in style.
ho th ohdyss pen .e
When [tort's sturs/starts sorving?
*Who to call for a free meeting room?
The IMU Brand worked with Thirkell Elementary to educate children in the power of the arts.
From Page 2B
frame of reference, while Soth
leaves interpretation to the viewer.
"In his books, Soth gives very
little information about the envi-
ronment of these photographs,
and sort of allows the photographs
to speak for themselves," Potts said.
"Sekula takes a rather different
view and says, 'Well the thing is,
the photographs don't quite speak
for themselves. You need some kind
of contextual information in order
for them to really deliver.'"
However, 40-year-old Soth
readily acknowledged that his best-
known work has "struggled for
narrative," and he is avidly devel-
oping a new approach.
"The work I've done exists in
the fine-art context, and it's no
different than me in a basement
finger-painting in some ways,"
Soth explained. "While I con-
tinue in that vein, I'm also really
exploring how to tell photograph-
ic stories actively."
In his lecture, Soth, a member
of the documentary photography
group Magnum Photo, presents
the four-billionth photograph
uploaded on Flickr, illustrating
how that image resembles a pho-
tograph by William Eggleston,
who Soth called "a contemporary
master." Soth's lecture title, "The
Democratic Jungle," plays off
Eggleston's idea of a "democratic
forest," in which everything can
be made a subject of meaningful
"In the '60s and'70s, photogra-
phers were realizing that the most
mundane street corner could
hold rich cultural information,"
Soth said. "In the digital age, these
fragments, to me, mean less and
less. The forest is overgrown - it's
tangled with images and informa-
tion. So, jokingly, I say that photog-
raphy should provide a narrative
machete. It's like cutting away the
story to find your way through."
His emerging strategy is thus a
direct response to the metaphoric
ocean of photographs.
"Let the cell-phone people have
the raw documentation - they're
doing it," Soth explained. "But
to tell a story is a whole different
thing, and that requires a lot of
Yet, Soth does not agree with the
notion that documentary photogra-
phy should present objective truths
about its subject or society. Rather,
he is interested in documenting his
movement through the world.
"I equate this to the New Jour-
nalism of the 1970s - Tom Wolfe
and people like that who were cre-
ating this new first-person jour-
nalism, where they are getting rid
of that authoritative voice, that
sort of all-knowing voice, and say-
ing, 'this is my experience,' " Soth
That denial of complete objec-
tivity is of interest to Stein, who
will present her research on
female photographers from the
'20s to the '50s.
In an e-mail interview with the
Daily, Stein wrote that she evalu-
ates "strains of feminist thinking
and viewing" in work from an age
when "objectivity was most prized
in photography," illustrating how
bias always finds away to seep into
But Soth emphasized that his
subjective approach to photog-
raphy is still experimental. He is
developing a storytelling slide-
show blog for The New York Times
that will be a "foray into proving
my thesis or falling on my face."
Soth's work accordingly dove-
tails with the symposium's explor-
"We really want a serious aca-
demic discussion on the nature
of photography in the contempo-
rary world," Potts said. "And in
order to get at this we want peo-
ple who have direct experience
and are key figures in the making