Museum InfoMedia Room

DIA interior
DIA interior

Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition Showcase

Monday, March 24, 2003

The Future of Detroit Art

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is the only museum in America that presents an annual exhibition comprised entirely of artwork made by local students. This year the DIA is hosting the 66th Annual Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Student Exhibition across the street from the museum at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. The DPS show is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases young students’ creativity and gives visitors a vision of Detroit’s artistic future.

The Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition is on view April 12 through May 17 and features hundreds of objects in various media made by students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The objects in this year’s show include drawings, paintings, graphics, fibers, ceramics, jewelry, digital media, photography and film. Year after year visitors to the show are most impressed with the raw talent of artists who are so young, ranging in age from 4 to 18.

“The high artistic quality of this show often catches people off guard,” says Gabriela Crawford, exhibition planner and member of the DIA’s education department. Crawford says some people visit the exhibition with a preconceived notion of what school kids are capable of and are inevitably surprised once they see talent that far exceeds their expectations.

Twenty-two year old Isaac Moreno, who displayed his work in the 2000 DPS show, is an example of such talent. DIA educator and artist Valerie Parks and famed Detroit photographer Ameen Horani both noticed Moreno while he was participating in of one of the DIA’s popular “drawing in the gallery” activities. “Both Ameen and Isaac were drawing in the British galleries and I asked Ameen to ‘take a look at this kid,’” said Parks. Upon recognizing that Isaac was gifted in the area of photorealism—a style of painting that resembles photography in its meticulous attention to realistic detail—Horani offered to shoot his portfolio, and in turn help the young artist gain admission to art school. With this portfolio, Isaac got into the School for Visual Arts in New York City and was last reported to be working on a post September 11 mural in NYC.

Fostering talented young artists such as Isaac Moreno is what the DPS show is all about according to Graham W.J. Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Beal comments, “This exhibition is a celebration of gifted young artists. The Detroit Institute of Arts has always provided aspiring young artists with accessible educational and cultural resources with which they can realize and explore their talents.”

Bringing the DPS show to life is a labor of love for the Detroit Institute of Arts, the organizer of the show for the last 66 years. The DIA works with the Detroit Public Schools to assemble the artwork, put together the panel of judges, promote the show and reward the participating students. Also involved in this year’s show are the following members of Detroit’s academic and cultural community: The Detroit Public Library; The Detroit Art Teachers Association; Friends of the Detroit Children’s Museum; College for Creative Studies (CCS); the Wayne State University Art Education Department; and the Y.E.S. Foundation.

Planning for the DPS show began in early March, when art teachers from the Detroit Public Schools submitted the best of their students’ work. A panel of three judges then narrowed the field down to the roughly 300 works that comprise this year’s show. Every student who participates in the DPS show is awarded a certificate signed by Detroit Public Schools CEO Dr. Kenneth Burnley. CCS and Wayne State University award scholarships to select students, and other organizations give artists savings bonds, art supplies and medals. Once the DPS show ends, a very small selection of works are put on display at the Children’s Museum. Historically the Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition is on view at the DIA, but because of the museum’s ongoing construction and renovation, the many works of art will be exhibited at the Detroit Public Library’s Strohm Hall, 5201 Woodward Avenue, across the street from the DIA. Library hours are Tuesday–Wednesday, noon–8 p.m. and Thursday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. An opening reception for students and their families will be held on Saturday, April 12, at 1 p.m. in the Old Fine Arts Room. Admission to the Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition is free. Call the DIA for more information at 313.833.7900, or visit You can also call the Detroit Public Library at 313.833.4042 or visit

This 66th Annual Student Exhibition was organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Public Schools and is made possible with the support of DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.