Detroit Area Education Focuses on Traditional and not-so-Traditional Photographic Media in 2009

The DIA has always been a haven for young artists, going back decades in its support their work with outreach projects, exhibitions and behind-the-scenes tours. Many thanks to my colleague Madeleine Winslow for blogging recently on the successful photo project she and her department managed in conjunction with the exhibition Of Life and Loss.alabel

In the past week, the DIA also opened the annual Detroit Public Schools exhibition in its 72nd year! The exhibition was exiled to the main branch of the Detroit Public Library during our renovation over the past few years, but has returned to the DIA and can be found in our new Gibbs Learning Center gallery where small exhibitions will be featured in addition to our regular drop-in workshops and other hands-on programs for young and old. We hope to add a cyanotype class and other photography inspired offerings in the studio this fall.

loose_canonAlthough I never tire of the great collections and exhibitions here at the DIA – and I am totally unbiased in saying so 🙂 – I got a chance to see art outside of the DIA this week. Lens-based media (photography, film and video) along with mixed media installation work are currently on view in the 2009 MFA graduate student exhibition Loose Canon at the Cranbrook Museum of Art. Earlier this week, Liz Cohen – artist in residence at the Cranbrook Academy of Art – invited me to speak with some of her second year MFA photography students about their work in this year’s show. Liz is new to Cranbrook having recently moved to the Detroit area from Arizona. Her class has visited the DIA several times this year looking at special areas of the collection and talking to the DIA’s curatorial staff about art and museum practice. Speaking with artists is my all time favorite pastime, so I was happy to entertain a little diversion and take some time away from the DIA to travel to Cranbrook this past Wednesday .

kellys-installation-detail

Ritual for Money, detail, 2009, by Kelly Frank

Particularly memorable was the conversation I had with Kelly Frank, who was my former photo student at College for Creative Studies in 2004. Interdisciplinary practice (cross media work) has become a hallmark of the Cranbrook program in recent years, and Kelly has taken on performance and installation developing a thoughtful piece entitled “Ritual for Money” inspired in concept by Native American ritual and the esoteric knowledge of wealth and success written about in Rhonda Byrne’s best-seller The Secret.

I have written before that Detroit, particularly the art scene here, seems to persevere in tough times. It was no more evident this past week as the creative spirit seems to be upon us with great energy and geniune passion. Young artists who share their creativity probably have no idea of how uplifting it can be for the obscure individual to come into contact with their work through a visit to a museum. I hope some of them may read this, because I have to thank you along with our Detroit-based art educators who would never think of giving up on culture in this city.

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