"Another Detroit is Happening": a counterpoint to "Detroit Disassembled"

The Queens Museum of Art is proud to present Another Detroit is Happening, an exhibition by Detroit Summer’s LAMP program, in our Partnership Gallery.

The story of how this exhibition came to the museum, and why, is an interesting one.   At the moment, QMA’s galleries are full of images of Detroit.  Up until now, it has been mostly images of abandoned factories, vacant schools, and empty neighborhoods.  The images are part of an exhibition by Andrew Moore called Detroit Disassembled.  Formally speaking, they are very powerful, beautifully-crafted photographs.  But they are exactly the kind of images that people in Detroit are growing tired of.   According to Detroiters I’ve talked to, pictures like this re-enforce a narrative about Detroit that does not account for the creative vibrancy and community-led solutions that Detroiters has been generating since the city’s “decline”.

So, long before Detroit Disassembled was installed the museum started a series of conversations with artists and organizers from Detroit in search of ways to complement the exhibition and widen our understanding of the complexities of Detroit.  It is these kinds of conversations that we consider our most powerful tool towards being a responsible cultural institution. And one of the most fruitful was with Ilana Weaver (aka Invincible), a hip-hop artist and organizer from Detroit that I met at the Creative Change conference this past summer.   Very quickly we realized we wanted to dedicate some wall space in the museum for the perspective of actual Detroiters.   And not just any perspective.  Ilana told us about Detroit Summer’s LAMP program and the rigorous community project that a group of high school students carried out last summer involving interviews and portraits of their community members.  The project culminated in a series of beautiful public murals that reveal the Detroit that Detroiters are proud of.  Since then, the mural project has lived on as a series of beautiful prints, videos, and photographs cared for by Wesley Taylor and Juan Martinez, two artist-organizers working alongside the youth at Detroit Summer, who  helped us bring the project to Queens.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of how the Queens Museum of Art kept its “cred” among the youth in this complex game of picturing Detroit.  Below, some images of Another Detroit is Happening.   To learn more about the exhibition, visit: www.queensmuseum.org/another-detroit-is-happening.  To learn more about Detroit Summer, visit: www.detroitsummer.org

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