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DIA docent tour
Docent tour

Black History Month at the DIA

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Contact: Pamela Marcil (313) 833-7899
Dave Priestly (313) 833-9151


Black History Month at the Detroit Institute of Arts

January 24, 2007 (Detroit)—In honor of Black History month, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) offers a variety of activities focused on African American culture. Of special interest is Freddy Cole, brother of Nat King Cole, performing with his trio on Friday, Feb. 2. Art-making, storytelling and more are all part of the fun. Activities are free with museum admission unless otherwise noted.

The DIA is open until 9 p.m. every Friday. Activities are from 6–8:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Every Friday Night in February
Drop-in Workshop: Miniature Paper Masks (All ages)
Create a miniature mask using poster board, markers, and a variety of art-making materials, then learn how masks are used in different cultures.

February 2: First Friday
Jazz: Freddy Cole Trio 6:30 & 8 p.m.
Freddy Cole plays piano, sings, and performs live with guitar and upright bass, just like his brother Nat King Cole. Yet his voice is raspier, smokier, and even jazzier. Cole’s career continues to ascend as he’s moved into the front ranks of America’s homegrown art form with a style and musical sophistication all his own.

February 9: Fine Arts Friday
Classical Music: Sphinx Competition Winner 6:30 & 8 p.m.
In celebration of Black History Month, this special performance highlights a winner in the annual Sphinx Competition, an event open to young African American and Latino string players residing in the United States.

Lecture: “The Dances of Jacob Lawrence” 7 p.m.
Kevin Ward, artistic director and choreographer of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, discusses his new work Color-ography, a modern dance inspired by the paintings of Jacob Lawrence. Valerie Mercer, DIA curator of the General Motors Center for African American Art, will talk about particular paintings used in Color-ography, which will be performed at the Detroit Opera House Feb.10 and 11.

February 16: Jazz Friday
Jazz Music: Kenn Cox & Drum 6:30 & 8 p.m.
Detroit jazz legend Kenn Cox takes off in a new direction, exploring the textures of African drumming, combined with his unique style of jazz bebop.

February 23: Fourth Friday
World Music: Heritage Organic Percussion 6:30 & 8 p.m.
This acoustic percussion and vocal ensemble fuses the rich cultural traditions and rhythms of Africa with African American tradition and modern musical trends.


Saturday, February 3
Greatest Hits: African American Art 2 p.m.
Stephanie James, assistant curator of the General Motors Center for African American Art, discusses Bob Thompson’s painting Blue Madonna and some of her other personal favorites currently on view in the galleries.  

Saturday, February 10
Artist Demonstration: Joye Opoku Ofei  Noon–4 p.m. 
Born in Ghana, West Africa, artist and graphic designer Joye Opoku Ofei shares his rich culture through his captivating painting style. 

Saturday, February 24
Artist Demonstration: Rico Africa Noon–4 p.m.
Detroit artist Rico Africa uses acrylic paint, collage and found objects to create works that are autobiographical yet engage viewers to consider broader cultural contexts.


Every Sunday in February
Drop-In Workshop: Adinkra Cloth Noon–4 p.m.
Adinkra cloth is hand-printed fabric made in Ghana, West Africa. Learn more about this art form and create a small banner using cloth and hand-made Adinkra stamps.

Sunday, February 4
Storytelling: “Stories and Beats” 2 p.m.
Storyteller Tonya Dallas combines the sounds of African beats and music with moving tales.

Lecture: “Charles White’s American Dream” 2 p.m.
Andrea Barnwell, director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, discusses Charles White’s evolution as one of the nation’s most skillful draftsmen, along with a look at the representations of African American life that consistently informed his work. Barnwell, an art historian and critic, is the author of Charles White, the first volume in the David C. Driskell Series of African American Art. She will sign copies of her book after the lecture.

Sunday, February 11
Brunch with Bach: Sphinx Competition Winner 11:30 a.m.
In celebration of Black History Month, this special performance highlights a winner in the annual Sphinx Competition, an event open to young African American and Latino string players residing in the United States. Tickets at the DIA box office, by phone, 313.833.4005 or at

Storytelling: “Unchained Memories” 2 p.m.
Hear Tonya Dallas tell a variety of slave narratives highlighting the traditions, people, places and challenges of enslaved African Americans. Sign language interpretation available.

Sunday, February 18
Storytelling: “Get on the Bus” 2 p.m.
Tonya Dallas celebrates the life of Rosa Parks through storytelling.

Alain Locke Awards: Conversation with Barbara Chase-Riboud 2 p.m.
Barbara Chase-Riboud, recipient of the 2007 Alain Locke Award, is known for her powerful abstract sculptures that sensitively combine the hardness of cast bronze with the softness of woven wool or silk fibers. She discusses her art with Valerie J. Mercer, curator of the General Motors Center for African American Art. Sponsored by the Friends of African and African American Art.

Sunday, February 25
Family Performance: “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” 2 p.m.
On a barren stage with only a trunk of costumes, Leslie McCurdy tells the story of Harriet Tubman, using the American icon’s own words. Relive the story of her life from her earliest experience as a slave, through her work on the Underground Railroad, to her continued commitment to others in her later years.

Wednesday, February 7
CaféDIA: African American Cuisine 
A menu of dishes from an international or ethnic group is offered the first Wednesday of each month in CaféDIA. This month, the theme is African American foods.

Hours and Admission
Hours: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is a donation. We recommend $6 for adults and $3 for children. DIA members are admitted free. For membership information call 313-833-7971.

Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range and depth.

The DIA is currently undergoing a major renovation, scheduled for completion in November 2007. The museum remains open with a dynamic schedule of programs and activities for all ages. Visitors can enjoy some of the DIA’s “greatest hits” while the museum prepares for an entirely new installation when renovations are completed.