Last August, we moved to Lafayette Park in Detroit, and we are very fortunate to live in one of the houses designed by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the late 1950s. Our Mies unit is very similar to the kinds of European city apartments in which I grew up in Madrid, small rooms--very simple and austere spaces, narrow kitchen, eight-foot-high ceilings, and the sounds of your neighbors' voices through the shared walls. These Mies homes are special because their external walls are made of glass, allowing plenty of light to come through, warming our daily life.

On a recent sunny Sunday, a bright energy is tangible in the house. I just finished reading the labels of an upcoming show, Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement, which we have developed with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. This exhibition will open on July 23, and it is part of the citywide effort to commemorate the events of 1967 in Detroit and across the country, powered by the Civil Rights movement. On the same date, the Wright museum will be opening Say It Loud: Art, History and Rebellion, an exhibition that complements the DIA's and vice versa. The Wright and DIA teams have developed both shows together, consulting community members through focus groups, advisory panels, and teams of young metro Detroiters.

 

It is the first time that the DIA and the Wright have collaborated so closely on an ambitious project. I am proud of the process and the results. The working experience has been remarkable and the July 23 openings will be a unique moment for both institutions. The DIA will be displaying an extraordinary group of works by artists of different backgrounds, who rendered with forceful and expressive language the social unrest of the time. Thanks to a fresh perspective and a sense of beauty, these artists created works that shed light on tough historical moments with a hopeful spirit and positive approach.

As I visualized these shows, I could hear my next door neighbors come back home and imagined the sounds of this place in 1967. I recently read that Dr. Martin Luther King used to sip Pepsi in the basement of what is now my home whenever he visited Detroit and that a number of Civil Rights initiatives were first discussed within these walls. At the time, this Mies unit belonged to his friend Judge George W. Crockett, Jr., once described in Ebony magazine as "Detroit's rebel and champion for justice for blacks." Dr. King and Judge Crockett envisioned a better world in the same place where I am writing. As the warm light keeps coming in, I feel honored to live here. I wish they could be with us on July 23.
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Salvador Salort-Pons  Director Detroit Institute of Arts