Metalsmith and newspaper publisher George Booth and his wife, Ellen Scripps Booth, built this Arts and Crafts manor home as the centerpiece of their country estate, Cranbrook. The Booths outfitted the interior with fine examples of handcrafted furniture, textiles, metalwork, and sculpture, often purchased at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts downtown. It was from this home that the Booths envisioned  and implemented the transformation of their personal estate into a multifaceted center of art, science, and education now known as Cranbrook Educational Community. 
Just as George and Ellen Booth supported the work of artists and craftspeople with special commissions for their home, the pieces included here for Speculative Histories add stories and ideas important to the artists of Cranbrook Academy of Art today.



Into the courtyard of Cranbrook House, Steven Kuypers towed his beloved, but non-functional, Ford F-250 for a full day’s work. The performance piece brings to campus an everyday activity—maintenance of a vehicle—to a hyper-aestheticized space where such activity is rarely on view. As Kuypers asks, “Why do some people hang on to all their old cars rather than sell or scrap them? Where is the value in having more projects than you could get to in a lifetime? What objects do I hold onto despite their lack of worth by any rational metrics?” 

Steven Kuypers

Steven Kuypers, 4D Design 2021    
Ford F-250 

1908 ROOMS 

In the Booths’ Dining Room, Scott Klinker, 3D Design Artist-in-Residence, brings his Structures of Light to frame and double the fireplace. Side chairs begin to float futuristically as the neon redefines the understanding of the traditional room. 4D Design Artists-in-Residence Carla Diana adds her book, LEO the Maker Prince and 3D printed characters from the book into the Cranbrook Cabinet, made for the display of handmade books from George Booth’s Cranbrook Press (1900-1902). While Booth’s books represented a turn back toward the distinctly handmade, Diana’s book presents a future where robots and technology are the realm of every person: the characters were printed by a young reader from files accessed through codes within the book. 

In George Booth’s Old Country Office, Kira Keck and Jane Sasso hoped to bring back the presence of Ellen (Nellie) Booth: this room was renovated into her Morning Room in the 1930s, yet restored back to George’s office in the 1990s. Alongside a dried flower arrangement and surrounding an historic pillow embroidered “Nellie,” the artists rehung Ellen’s drapes and incorporated surviving furniture and small items from the Morning Room. Keck and Sasso helped bring forward the story of Ellen, including the brutal (but misremembered) tale of murder among the finches or canaries of the aviary attached to the room.

In the Living Room, atop the large oriental rug, Jenna VanFleteren expanded and gave dimension to a single flower design from the rug, humorously commenting on history repeating itself in a new way. 2D Design Artists-in-Residence Elliot Earls added a group of works exploring his graphic figures around the fireplace in a manner suggesting Booth had continued collecting objets d’art well into this century. In an Italian curio cabinet, Merel Noorlander’s two robotic sex toys—one moving on a paper spiral, the other with a paper accordion—explore the relationship between organs, sexuality, and the design language of commercial sex toys.  In the Sunset Room, Sylvain Malfroy-Camine added his portable painting-turned-light shade. He imagines the painting as a character in its own right, and its form mirrors the vertical thrust of the arm of Giambologna's bronze Mercury nearby.

Scott Klinker

Structures of Light 
Scott Klinker, 3D Design Artist-in-Residence    
Neon, plastic tubing 
60 x 60 x 18 inches, 48 x 48 x 18 inches 





Carla Diana

Leo the Maker Prince and 3D Printed Characters 
Carla Diana, 4D Design Artist-in-Residence 
Book and ABS Plastic 
15 x 13 x 10 inches    

Shown with: 
Cranbrook Papers 
Cranbrook Society  
Detroit, Michigan: Cranbrook Press, 1901 





Kira Keck and Jane Sasso

Morning Room/Mourning Room, for Nellie (Visited by the Spectres of 50-100 Canaries and/or Finches) 
Kira Keck, Fiber 2022, and Jane Sasso 
Screen print on silk, painted flowers and grasses, 1964 Morning Room curtains, monogrammed Morning Room pillow 
Dimensions variable 





















Jenna VanFleteren

Floral Motif 
Jenna VanFleteren, 3D Design 2022 
Textile, poly fiber fill 
24 x 24 x 4 inches 

Elliot Earls

Group of Figurines and Busts 
Elliot Earls, 2D Design Artist-in-Residence
Wood, cast bronze, mixed media
Dimensions variable

Elliot Earls, 2D Design Artist-in-Residence
Oil on linen
18 x 24 x 2 inches

Shown with (left to right):

Toy Venus, John Gregory, 1923, Bequest of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth through the Cranbrook Foundation

Vase, Odette Chatrousse or Auguste Heiligenstein, before 1929, Collection Cranbrook Art Museum

Argenta Ware Vase, Wilhelm Kage, circa 1930, Collection Cranbrook Art Museum

Night, Mario Joseph Korbel, 1921, Bequest of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth through the Cranbrook Foundation

Vase, Unknown (Japanese), 1800-1899, Bequest of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth through the Cranbrook Foundation

Statue (Standing Woman Playing Lute), Anton Pospisil, early 20th Century, Bequest of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth through the Cranbrook Foundation


















Merel Noorlander

Non-Binary Lab 
Merel Noorlander, 4D Design 2022    
Paper, Tyvek, silicone, pigment, commercial strokers, epoxy dough, 3D prints (PLA), Arduino Uno, DC gearbox, servo motor, extension cables, resistors, slide switch, LiPo battery, micro charger 
Dimensions variable 








Sylvain Malfroy-Camine

Standing Veil 
Sylvain Malfroy-Camine, Painting 2021 
Acrylic, cotton sheet, wood 
24 x 40 inches 







At one end of the grand Cranbrook House Library, added onto the house in 1918, hangs The Great Crusade tapestry by Albert Herter. Elliot Avis responded to the tapestry’s scene of General Pershing marching into the Great War alongside an amalgam of European war, political, and religious heroes with his speculative chess set. As Avis writes, “Chess is an ancient game, a violent game, a metaphor for war and life.” Maria Bologna describes her work as a souvenir from an imagined trip by George Booth to a local paper mill, where the cardboard roll fell from the rafters to his feet. Fascinated, Booth now can sit and stare into the form. A large ceramic vessel with a non-functional lid, Sage Rucci’s Platonic Imposter questions displays of wealth and art for the sake of status: what makes an object luxurious?

Hanging from the fireplace screen is a view of a late-20th century home office, its clean lines and fax machine a strong break from the Booths’ own grand library workspace. Cooper Holoweski, Print Media Artist-in-Residence, depicts his father’s work as a gallerist of Ed Ruscha and Robert Mapplethorpe in this digital collage. On the library’s desk, Emily Fruth has placed a letter covered in strange sores, “made in contemplation of the experiences that get under our skin, unspoken words that still remain festering, boiling within us.” 

Chelsea Romeo Allen tapped into her decade of work in the food service industry with her cast-hand candles, positioned to hold serving trays. Recalling, too, the large staff it took to operate an estate like Cranbrook House, these unbalanced sculptures represent the physical and economic precarity associated with the service industry. Along the bookshelves, Meirav Ong hung twelve bookmarks made of bedikot (Jewish menstrual cloths) embroidered with both the Zodiac (which appears carved along the Library’s wood paneling) and the twelve tribes of Israel regendered as women. Intrigued by the bookshelves’ grouping of religious texts alongside Other People’s Daughters, a feminist social reform text by Eleanor Wembridge, Ong imagines how Judaic culture would be different as a matriarchal society.

Elliot Avis

Fischer Spassky 1992 Return of the King    
Elliot Avis, Painting 2022 
Scagliola, mortar, shellac    
12 x 12 x 5 inches 
Shown with: 
The Great Crusade 
Albert Herter, Herter Looms, Inc., (maker) 
Cotton, wool and silk tapestry 
156 x 120 inches 
Gift of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth, Collection Cranbrook Art Museum










Maria Bologna

Maria Bologna, 2D Design 2022 
3000 x 24 inches (rolled) 

Sage Rucci

Platonic Imposter 
Sage Rucci, Ceramics 2022 
Terra cotta    
11 x 11 x 26 inches    















Cooper Holoweski

Paul's Home Office 
Cooper Holoweski, Print Media Artist-in-Residence 
Archival inkjet print on silver paper 
24 x 20 inches 

Emily Fruth

Emily Fruth, Metalsmithing 2022    
Thermoplastic sheet, textile dye, beeswax, parchment, India ink    
6 x 5 x ½ inches 






Chelsea Romeo Allen

No, Thank You 
Chelsea Romeo Allen, Sculpture 2022    
Beeswax, cotton wick 
4 x 7 x 11 inches 








Meirav Ong

The Twelve Sisters Bookmarks 
Meirav Ong, Fiber 2022    
Embroidery floss, sequins, glass beads, watercolor, bedikot (Jewish menstrual cloths) 
3 x 3 x 12 inches each 






Within George Booth’s 1918 office, where objects from the family’s travels are on display, Yi Ding hung a canvas of gilt Chinese poetry as a way of bringing her country’s culture into the space—including a topical poem about a child going abroad to school. In Booth’s drafting room, where a double portrait of George and Ellen Booth hangs, Mieyoshi Ragernoir’s double portrait celebrates relationships between Black women throughout history. Ragernoir writes that “Ancestral hands hover beside and behind radiant femmes as their divine watchers.” She continues, “My last name is signed largely on the front in an artistic style to indicate me boldly being present." Behind the painting, the artist’s coveralls, splattered with paint, read “PAY BLACK FEMMES.”

In the same room, Ryan David’s Observation Map sits under the first site plan of the Cranbrook estate from 1904. David created his map through walks around campus, marking areas and interactions of interest, including his discovery of the original North Gate pillars on Cranbrook Road. A single fallen rock from these pillars was removed and cast by the artist in a series of different materials. The rock will be etched with a message and returned to the pillars when they are reconstructed this summer. In the Still Room, where Booth retired for afternoon naps, Emily Fruth’s wax bowl shows the imprint and remnants of the strawberries around which it was cast—reflecting the way in which we all hold the imprint of the memories of people long after they are gone.

Yi Ding

Chinese Calligraphy Culture 
Yi Ding, Metalsmithing 2021 
Mixed media 
36 x 23 inches 







Mieyoshi Ragernoir

Thank You (For Jayna) 
Mieyoshi Ragernoir, Painting 2022    
Oil painting collaged on spray painted canvas 
36 x 24 inches    
Shown with: 
Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. George G. Booth 
Zoltan Sepeshy, CAA Instructor/Director of Painting, 1931-1966, CAA Director/President 1946-1966 
Tempera, wood frame 
35½  x 43½  inches 
Circa 1951 
Collection Cranbrook Art Museum 





























Ryan David

Observation Maps | Bloomfield Hills
Ryan David, Architecture 2022
Ink on Vellum
24" x 36"

Copies | Fieldstone 
Ryan David, Architecture 2022
Urethane Resin, Concrete, Plaster
6" x 6" x 10"





















Emily Fruth

Emily Fruth, Metalsmithing 2022 
12 x 12 x 8 inches 







Color photography by Eric Perry, Courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
Historic photographs Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.