Celebrating young Detroit creators

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that the U.S. is “out of the full-blown explosive pandemic phase.” And I must admit I had a very similar feeling on April 22 when the DIA opened its annual Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) student exhibition before a very excited crowd of students, families, teachers, and DIA staff. After two years of celebrating the art of our young Detroit creators through our online platforms, we were finally all gathered in person in the magnificent space of Kresge Reception surrounded by artworks by Kehinde Wiley, Charles McGee, and Romare Bearden.

To get things going bright and early that day, Rochelle Riley, writer and City of Detroit Director of Arts and Culture, published a terrific column in the Detroit Free Press where she explained with unique eloquence and perspective the importance of the DIA’s 85-year partnership with DPSCD and what it means for, in her words, “the talent of our young creative force.” As we see arts education, unfortunately, fade away from classrooms across the school system, Ms. Riley has become a powerful and inspiring advocate for the arts in our beloved city. With more creative tools than financial ones and a will of iron, her influence is tangible. Her presence at the DIA’s DPSCD student exhibition opening was a sign that we are all working together to find and bring to the forefront our community’s artistic talent to both celebrate and elevate it; so we can make the society in which we live a better one for all.

DPSCD student award winners at the DIA.
DPSCD student award winners at the DIA.


This year students in grades K-12 from 62 schools submitted just under 1,000 pieces, including ceramics, collages, drawings, videos, textiles, jewelry, paintings, photography, prints, sculpture, and digital works. The DPSCD expert jury accepted 222 works, which are now on view in the Wayne and Joan Webber Education Wing at the DIA. The show is simply beautiful, and I am grateful to the DPSCD staff for the excellent work and especially thankful to Ani Garabedian, our Community Arts Coordinator, and de facto DIA curator of the student show, who orchestrated with extraordinary care and attention all aspects of the installation and display of the artwork, as well as the wonderful opening program.

It was certainly energizing to be all back together after such difficult pandemic. The program featured the art awards for the DPSCD artists and finished with some intangible art: the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. DPSCD student, Troy Perkins, brought his cello and with firm composure and focus, extracted mellow and warm notes gifting the audience with an almost supernatural moment. Whether its visual, musical, spoken word, or other genres, the arts have an ineffable quality to connect us as humans through the shared enjoyment of the experience. The DPSCD student exhibition is a prime example. My warmest congratulations to everyone who make this magic possible at the DIA.

Categories:  From The Director