Her photographs show a city that's reverting back into a frontier: a wide-open landscape of open prairies and land that's free for the taking.
The once-mighty tribes of the Big Three are shadows of what they once were, and their ruins are scattered everywhere. What remains of them is confined to government reservations. Their downfall wasn't smallpox or colonial crusades, but cheap credit and complicity in the SUV trade.
The Detroit that remains looks like a ruin to most perspectives. But in the images of Vermeulen-Smith (who happens to be from the Netherlands), it looks a lot like a New World. Yeoman farmers reclaim abandoned lots to grow crops, and Detroit's homeless fashion tidy homes in the wilderness to live strikingly similarly as our national demigods, the western pioneers.
The recession is a new American revolution. From these ruins of the old economy grow a new manifest destiny, and it should lend hope for us all that this one will be more frugal, resourceful, and honest than the one we had expected.