Best Detroit exhibits of 2015

The Detroit Institute of Arts: “Vulnerable Heritage: Protecting the Cultural Artifacts of Syria and Iraq”

The DIA expanded their Middle Eastern gallery with their newly opened “Vulnerable Heritage: Protecting the Cultural Artifacts of Syria and Iraq” exhibit.

The exhibit displays a series of artifacts from the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire and the Persian Empire. These remaining artifacts came from these empires’ ruins, and many of their years are unknown. Other sections of the exhibit include writing, stone carvings, metalwork and ceramics.

Not only does this exhibit protect these countries’ vulnerable heritages, but it also sheds light on their histories: the part of the Middle East where many religions were created, and where writing, math and science originated from.

With the hundreds of thousands of lost lives from the revolution in Syria and war in Iraq, the exhibit comes as a chance to value and honors these countries’ lasting legacy. Debuted in October, “Vulnerable Heritage” is here to stay.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair”

As a celebration of 50 years of The Wright, the Chicago History Museum and Johnson Publishing Company worked in organizing the exhibit “50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” As a first-ever exhibition, the fashion fair brought a retrospective of the traveling charity fashion show in the late 1950s.

The show, an empowering point in history, brought recognition to African Americans in the fashion industry. The exhibit showcases high-end, unique clothing and accessories from American, British, French, Italian and Japanese designers.

The couture pieces were costumes brought by major brands—Valentino, Bob Mackie, Henry Jackson and Alexander McQueen. The exhibit consists of three sections: Vision, Innovation and Power. These display a variety of costumes, garments and films, which explored the effects of the Ebony Fashion Fair. This showcase was on display from Sept. 18 through Jan. 3.

Library Street Collective: “POISON”

Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Cleon Peterson showcased his largely contemporary monochromatic collection “POISON” at the Library Street Collective, located near The Belt in Detroit. The showcase consisted of 28 paintings and sculptures that depict society’s battle on war, race and religion.

The violent and hectic figures show the struggle between dominancy and subordinacy.

Michigan Science Center: “Toytopia”

“Toytopia” is an interactive exhibit that combines fun with learning, bringing 100 years of life-sized and vintage toys to the Michigan Science Center.

Opened on Oct. 17, the family-friendly display is an extra $5 cost per admission ticket and welcomes all ages. The exhibit features a variety of giant toys, including a LEGO wall where guests can contribute to building, a retro arcade, a life-sized dollhouse and many more interactive toys.

For curious minds and reminiscing adults, “Toytopia” brings a modern experience to the most iconic toys of our time.

The Detroit Institute of Arts: “30 Americans”

The “30 Americans” self-guided exhibit tour began running from October and will continue through January 18. The exhibit presents a deeper telling of the outlook of the African American experience and the struggles and stereotypes as a result of a long history of racism.

Unlike any other exhibit in the DIA, the pieces vary from paintings of naked African Americans, murals, LED lit statements and videos. The stand-alone pieces bring something truly empowering to the museum, giving a chance for each artist to stand out.

For one piece in particular, “Duck, Duck, Noose,” artist Gary Davis placed stools in a circle with a child-sized KKK hood with, above each, a hanging noose. The bold piece sheds light to the racism taught to children from a young age, something carried with them to their adulthood.

Wayne State University: “Sculpture X Symposium: Value Added”

Sculpture X, brought by the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, was on display July 31 through Oct. 10. The competition was brought as a way to magnify the voices of WSU art students through their art.

The free exhibit featured a number of WSU students’ pieces shown throughout the school, depicting their ideas on consumerism, race, social class and religion. The engaging six pieces displayed oil paintings, sculptures, carvings and a piece that used 1,000 grocery bags.

One of the displays, in the Undergraduate Library, was of black and white photos of hotspots and people around Detroit.

The Baltimore Gallery: “Surveyed: Explorations of Land”

The weekend-long “Surveyed” exhibition featured the unique works of sixteen Wayne State graphic design students, each displaying the theme “Explorations of Land.”

The student approaches to the topic varied: the psychological effects on human isolation, the culture of consumerism and the rebuilding of abandoned parts of Detroit.

One piece in particular conveyed the feelings of insecurity and fear of Syrians fleeing their homeland to Europe for refuge. Through photography, videography, typography and wooden, each student brought a distinctive and personal perspective of a topic that meant something so different to each designer.

Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design: “United States of Latin America”

MOCAD’s “United States of Latin America” takes a deeper look into the unfamiliar reality of the four-region area: North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

With 34 contributing artists, the gallery focuses on the depiction of Latin America’s political, geographical and social class through art. The gallery displays various forms of artwork through sculptures, paintings, photography and maps with aerial images. The exhibit, launched in mid-September, came to an end on Jan. 3.

Contact Arts and Entertainment Editor Mayssa Masri at or 248-924-7406. Follow her on Twitter: @mayssamasri

View full article via: The South End 


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