From DPS to The New York Times

A few weeks ago I was visiting with Wayne and Joan Webber, extraordinary philanthropists, to share the progress we are making in the museum and the amazing work our team does in the DIA's education wing, named after them. I mentioned that we provide arts education to more than 70,000 students every year and that this work has become extremely important because funding for the arts is dramatically shrinking in the school systems. In this regard, our staff focuses on giving the students much needed exposure to the arts through a variety of programs. We would like these activities to have an impact on their lives-expanding their creativity and developing their problem solving skills so they are better equipped to face life. We are not necessarily trying to turn them into future "Van Goghs," but if some of them do reach those heights, we have a world class museum to house their works.

I have no question that much talent exists in our community, and the exhibition we annually organize with the Detroit Public Schools Community District (formerly Detroit Public Schools) provides an excellent stage to bring families together and showcase the artistic potential of students in our own galleries. This came to mind when, in the August 13 Arts section of the New York Times, I saw a more than half-page reproduction of Detroiter Mario Moore's painting Queen Mother Helen Moore, currently on view in the DIA's exhibition Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement. I am not surprised that the New York Times featured Mario's work. We have Queen Mother Helen Moore installed in a gallery with work by the eminent artists Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and David Hammons. Mario's image and message hold their own in this test of greatness.

It is not the first time that Mario's work has been shown in the museum. He attended DPS schools and his art was included in the 2001 and 2005 student exhibitions organized by the DIA. Seeing his work published in the New York Times makes me feel proud and illustrates a successful story of one of our own - a story I'd like to title "from DPS to the New York Times." But, of course, the story is much more complex and Mario's impressive resume at his young age includes solo exhibitions, degrees from Yale University (2013) and the College for Creative Studies (2009) and many hours of dedicated and passionate work. I know Mario nurtured his vocation in our old master galleries, and it is simply inspiring to see that the dialogue between the artist and the DIA continues.

Other Marios are growing up in our schools and the museum is committed to being instrumental in their lives and helping them succeed. The DIA staff works on making these connections, and it is reassuring to know that philanthropists like Wayne and Joan Webber support the fertile ground of the arts where Detroiters will continue to flourish in the DIA's garden.


Salvador Salort-Pons 


Detroit Institute of Arts


Categories:  From The Director