Artists Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert will create The Neighborhood Project in the Walter Gibbs Gallery in the Detroit Institute of Arts
(DIA) beginning Friday, Dec. 18. The artists will illustrate how art can transform neighborhoods, both visually and socially, by looking at how public space and aesthetics can be integrated. The installation will be up through March 28.
The Project stems from the work Cope and Reichert have undertaken in their Detroit community. Beginning with their PowerHouse Project, they have put into practice ideas about the aesthetics of everyday life and the integration of art and design into the rethinking and rebuilding of neighborhoods.
For The Neighborhood Project, Cope and Reichert will invite the public to engage in conversations, encourage openness to the possibilities of art in their communities and draw them into an interest in participating. The gallery will be divided into areas where people can talk, read about public and socially interactive art, make their own neighborhood maps and add thoughts that may contribute to the projects evolution.
The installation will feature photographs, maps, a video and an artistic storefront design, including:
Photographs of the wildflowers that grow in the PowerHouse neighborhood, accompanied by a small seed bank installation and plant identification
Conceptual maps of the neighborhood. An example is a theme map of the history of car ownership in the neighborhood, based on the extensive knowledge of a local resident. Blank maps will be available for the public to create their own neighborhood maps.
An artist-edited video from interviews about how art can transform a neighborhood.
A storefront display based on the aesthetics of Lebanese stores, developed by the artists in consultation with a Lebanese neighbor.
Cope and Reichert will be in residence for a day every week to talk with people and draw them into thinking about socially interactive art, and the importance of aesthetics in the public sphere. The days will rotate so that different kinds of audiences can visit the space and a schedule will be posted in the gallery. When the artists are not in residence, a DIA staff member will monitor the gallery and facilitate visitor interaction.
Other aspects of the work may be added as the piece evolves and according to the nature of ideas generated through conversations, and through interactions that occur in the process. Ideas or visual contributions made by members of the public will be vetted by the artists for inclusion.