Creativity in Detroit is as varied as portraits on abandoned buildings, poetry in an urban farmhouse, aluminum cladding on bicycles, canes inlaid with African designs and children’s novels that heal the fear of gunfire.
You could see that varied creativity when Kresge Arts in Detroit unveiled its first feature-length movie “Every Given Second,” which documents and celebrates the creative practices and critical perspectives of the 2017 Kresge Artist Fellows. It’s called “Every Given Second” because any moment an inspiration for a book, a play, a performance or a sculpture emerges.
Created by Detroit filmmakers, The Right Brothers, the movie features never before seen footage and interviews with 18 metro-Detroit artists who were awarded Kresge Artist Fellowships in the literary and visual arts.
“The Right Brothers created something that flows together seamlessly and salutes all 18 Kresge Arts Fellows with complimentary segments. It expresses the synergy of the larger Detroit arts community,” says Christina deRoos, director of Kresge Arts in Detroit.
The 18 fellows were chosen from more than 750 entries by people passionate about the expression of creativity in written and physical form. Each received $25,000 with no strings attached to advance their art and help educate the community. Now they have a film to triumph together.
“This premiere is a collision of boundless energy. An opus whose unimaginable challenges, chaotic scheme and brutal twists of fate pushed our creative resolve to the limit,” says The Right Brothers. “Our ambition to further glorify Detroit artists and their virtuoso performances has never been stronger thanks to the process.”
Nothing could be more exciting than a showcase for Detroit’s own brand of creativity.
The backdrop for this film is some of the most intriguing sectors of Detroit from the now defunct Joe Lewis Arena, to the auditorium of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, to the Dequindre Cut. Detroit shines and so does its people.
Nicole MacDonald’s exquisite portraits of Detroit leaders have hung in Eastern Market, a giant mural honoring labor leader Mary Ellen Riordon captures an entire wall of a house in Corktown and fills boarded up windows on a house on Grand River Avenue east of Grand Blvd.
Juan Martinez bikes in the Nain Rouge festival and just about every Detroit happening in his bike turned long-beaked bird in aluminum cladding. The film shows him soldering metal then taking young kids and parents for rides as they wave and laugh with glee.
Children in the film play tag in a sculpture garden designed by Robert Sestok. Restless teens have a new outlet when they join Sydney G. James in painting murals around Detroit.
In another segment you see Satori Shakoor leading a monthly audience for her Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers in compelling tales of love, war and squalor. There’s a mighty dog and graphic novels about his exploits from the pen of Mike Burdick, and art made out of discarded army blankets by Jean Bieri. Then Drew Philp tells of buying a $500 house in Detroit’s most dismal days and his book draws young buyers to town from around the country.
The movie and the fellowships offer many opportunities for those chosen.
For “I’m interested in learning about,” says
David Philpot, a master wood-carver and assemblage artist, embellishes staffs and other media with found objects including jewels, beads, crystals, shells, watches, and clocks. A nationally and internationally renowned artist, Philpot’s creations have traveled the world in the Arts in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department, and are in the permanent collection of the U.S. Embassy in Swaziland, Southern Africa.artist of canes and chairs, sees the program as a way to learn about opportunities to have his work exhibited as public art, and opportunities to sell it.
Jennifer Harge, a performance artist who teaches youth to stretch their creativity through dance, found it stretched her imagination.
“This fellowship has helped me clarify my creative practice. I have started planning new projects that sit in my practice more fully and deeply,” she says.
So far, Kresge Arts in Detroit has doled out 177 awards for film, music, literary arts, live arts and visual arts. It has awarded more than $4.5 million through 10 Kresge Eminent Artist awards of $50,000 each, 162 Kresge Artist Fellowships at $25,000 apiece, and six Gilda Awards of $5,000 each.
The awards are channeled through The Kresge Foundation, which works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grant making and social investing in arts and culture, among other goals.
In addition to an unrestricted $25,000 award, Kresge Artist Fellows participate in a professional practice program designed and delivered by Creative Many Michigan.
The Kresge Artist Fellowships program is administered by the College for Creative Studies, which educates artists and designers to be leaders in their creative professions.
Later this month Kresge Arts in Detroit will announce the 2018 fellows and will open a competition for 18 new creatives in November. What is true is that we are all winners when we express our own talents and let them shine for the city at large.
Lead picture is Juan Martinez and his “mobile art.”