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DETROIT METHODS: Art Collectives at Home, in the Commons

Wayne State University, Fall 2012
Fritz Haeg, Elaine L. Jacob Visiting Professor and Eric Troffkin, Department of Art and Art History Faculty / Students: Joseph Culver, Leah DiPace, Julie Howells, Bianca Ibarlucea, Rebecca Love, Daniel Presley, William Sabbagh, Renee Sandova and Jessica Wildman. / Visit class blog for regular updates

Final event/installation at at MoCAD, Sunday, December 9th, 11am-5pm

‘Detroit Methods’ is a studio for exploring the particularly innovative ways in which some contemporary artists are working in Detroit today, while developing student projects with similar strategies and approaches. We are looking at ten local art collectives and artist run initiatives, and their ways of working that extend beyond the conventional private production space of the solitary artist studio and the controlled public presentation space of the commercial gallery and art institution. Instead we see these artists turning into the home, and extending out to the commons, i.e. the street and shared public spaces of the city. The fundamentals of human culture, survival, and pleasure become the source and focus. Eating, gathering, conversing, gardening, cooking, composting, constructing, playing, bathing, cleaning, socializing, and learning often become central to the work. In the process our assumption of a clear division between daily life and elevated art may become blurred.

These approaches to making and experiencing art have been on the rise globally, but in Detroit we see it happening in a unique way at new levels of visibility and activity. The city has become the focus of international attention and an influential center for a particular kind of art making. Young artists establishing themselves in Detroit with conventional backgrounds in painting, sculpture, architecture, design, music, literature, and performance are often confronted with a reality where those conventions no longer make sense. Other ways of working emerge. We will study and apply those strategies, or Detroit Methods, to our work for this studio.

Since all art is about some response to time and place, we pay special attention to what it means to be an artist in the city of Detroit today. Since all art is about communication, we will consider uniquely effective and appropriate ways to present and share our work. Since our work may be ephemeral and temporary in nature, not taking the form of discrete objects, this is especially important. Since all art comes from a community or a culture, we will pay special attention to the community of our class (housed in a communal studio space) and school, the community of local artists, the general community of the city, and your personal communities around you at home.

Our homebase is a communal studio space in room 307 of the Schaver Music Building. This is our dedicated space throughout the term which you will have access to outside of class time to work, meet, read, gather, and generally hang out. It is important for us to create a space conducive to our work together, where we feel at home, and visitors feel welcome. Conventional studio supplies in addition to blankets, carpets, chairs, curtains, flowers, food, lamps, plants, posters, pillows, pottery, tea, textiles, tools, etc. will be brought in to make ourselves at home for the term.

Ten Detroit art collectives have been selected as our inspiration, research topics, and to varying degrees, mentors throughout the term. Students select one in particular that they will visit, interview, study in depth, and perhaps spend time working or even collaborating with. The degree of actual engagement will depend on the students needs and the accessibility of the collective.

Dflux: Detroit Research Studio
Heidelberg Project
The Hinterlands
Market Studio Kitchen + Detroit Emergent Futures LAB
MBAD Bead Museum
Popps Packing
Power House Productions and Design 99
The Edible Hut
TAP (The Alley Project) Gallery
Yes Farm

Each student develops a project that takes place in their own home, transforming the way that the spaces are used and occupied.

Each student, working alone, in pairs, and/or as a group, develops a project that in some way engages the public space - or the commons - of the city. This may take many forms and will be developed with feedback from fellow students, instructors, the community, and perhaps the local art collective mentors.

Students present an overview of their time, work, research, and experiences through the term with the media of their choice. Working alone, in pairs, and/or as a group, this will include a combination of photos, installation, text, video, and well as both print and web based. This entire body of work will be presented in the form of a final show and event over the weekend of December 8-9 at MoCAD.

“Detroit Methods: at Home, in the Commons” is a one day event-installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit from 11am - 5pm on Sunday, December 9th, 2012. A map of the city is taped out on the museum floor serving as the stage for the presentation of student projects with responses and contributions by visitors. The everyday spaces of private domesticity and public urbanity are reconsidered with communal street bread baking, vacant building film projections, bedroom spirit conjuring, backyard feral cat accommodating, community garden water harvesting, urban meadow mowing, people shepherding, public gardening dialoging, mass transit monitoring, and various forms of story telling. These projects react to real issues that Detroit is currently facing, involving food, transit, lighting, communications, parks and public spaces.

(subject to change)
#01 - Sep 10 - Introductions and Domesticate our Communal Studio
Presentations: Describe your home, your street, your neighborhood, your city
#02 - Sep 17 - ‘Home’ project proposals due
Presentation: Fritz talks about his home, city, & work and it’s relation to Detroit Methods
Discussion: assigned readings
#03 - Sep 24 -
#04 - Oct 1 - ‘Home’ project due
#05 - Oct 8 -
#06 - Oct 15 -
#07 - Oct 22 - ‘Commons’ project proposals due
#08 - Oct 29
#09 - Nov 5
#10 - Nov 12
#11 - Nov 19
#12 - Nov 26
#13 - Dec 3 - ‘Commons’ project due
FINAL EVENT & SHOW - Dec 9 - MoCAD, 11am-5pm
#14 - Final class meeting

TAP (The Alley Project) Gallery / facilitating participatory creative expression & positive youth-adult partnerships
MBAD Bead Museum / presenting exhibitions and public programming on African people's culture / founder: Olayami Dabls
Dflux: Detroit Research Studio / creative actions & workshops to create emergent & sustainable cottage industries / founders: Jon Brumit and Sarah Wagner
Heidelberg Project / an outdoor community art environment / founder: Tyree Guyton
The Hinterlands / performance company engaging the community through collaboration & exchange / founders: Richard Newman, Liza Bielby, and Eleni Zaharopoulos
Market Studio Kitchen + Detroit Emergent Futures LAB / restoring health to Detroit tables, connecting communities to food, art & culture / founder: Leon Johnson
Popps Packing / hosting seasonal indoor/outdoor installations, exhibitions, and performances / founders: Graem Whyte & Faina Lerman
Power House Productions and Design 99 / develops & implements creative strategies to revitalize and inspire the community / founders: Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope and collaborators
SOUP / The Edible Hut / monthly community meals funding local creative projects / unifying & activating Calimera Park as a community gathering space / founders: Kate Daughdrill and Edible Hut with Mira Burack
Yes Farm / incorporating art with agriculture and artist values with farmer values / founders: KT Andresky, Garrett MacLean, and Blake Carroll

Ant Farm, 1968-78
ASCO, 1972-1987
Archigram, 1960’s
Critical Art Ensemble, 1987-present
Food (Gordon Matta Clark & Carol Goodden), 1970’s
Gelitin, 1993-present
General Idea, 1969-1994
Guerrilla Girls, 1985-present
LTTR (Lesbians to the Rescue), 2001-2008
My Barbarian
Project Row Houses, 2003-present
Slanguage, 2002-present
Temporary Services, Chicago, 1998-present
Torolab, 1995-present
W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), 2008-present

New York Times, "Wringing Art Out of the Rubble in Detroit" by Milena Ryzik, Aug 3, 2012
New York Times,"‘Detroit Pushes Back With Young Muscle" by Jennifer Conlin, Jul 1, 2011
Motown Review of Art, “Envisioning Real Utopias in Detroit” by Vince Carducci, Feb 1, 2012
Huffington Post, “Dear Occupy Detroit” by Yusef Bunchy Shakur, Nov 17, 2011

Motown Review of Art by Vince Carducci
Arts Corps Detroit, Wayne State University lists
Detroit Works Project
Detroit Lives
Green Garage Detroit
I am Young Detroit
Scott Hocking, artist and photographer

Detroit Tree of Heaven
Detroit je t’aime
Salt and Cedar Letterpress
Community & Public Arts Detroit
The Squash House

How to Renovate a House/Neighborhood
Detroit Lives, Johnny Knoxville
Detroit J’Taime
The Squash House by Graem Whyte
12527 Klinger Street by Charlie O’Geen
Clearing a Path to the Future: Garbage Totem No. 1
Get In My Car & Drive: Nowhere in Detroit
Ride It Sculpture Park

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
Public Pool
5E Gallery