One of Detroit’s most intriguing figures, artist LeRoy Foster (1925–1993) was an exceptional talent and a leading figure in the Black artistic community. Perhaps best known for his large mural at the Douglass Branch of the Detroit Public Library, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, (1972), Foster studied art at Detroit’s famed Cass Tech High School, the Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College for Creative Studies) and, it is believed, at Cranbrook Academy of Art.Foster embodied his moniker “the Michelangelo of Detroit,” drawing inspiration from the drama of High Renaissance paintings. This passion also led him to study overseas in London and Rome, growing his deft skills in figuration. Conceived as a companion to the concurrent contemporary-art-focused exhibition, Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit, LeRoy Foster exemplifies the rich local history of Black realism.Foster was openly gay during a time of hostility and oppression towards the LGBTQ+ community ...Read More
Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit focuses on a local community of artists that have developed expert skills in drawing and painting, and, through deft hands, explore the representation of the Black body in both personal and cultural contexts. Rejecting the monolithic nature under which the Black body is frequently conceived and popularly imagined, Skilled Labor illustrates the range, depth, nuance, and variety of Black life through each artist’s unique approach to figuration. The exhibition features a spectrum of lived experiences—joy, intimacy, reverie, danger, tension—through this artistic lens. Collectively, these artists are undertaking the laborious task of art historical and cultural rethinking through acts of representation.“Skilled labor” refers to highly trained, experienced individuals who complete complex mental or physical tasks with expertise. The term poetically speaks to these Detroit artists that perform a durational and technically proficient approach to artmaking. Skilled labor is also a rigorous intellectual process that these ...Read More
Exhibition Dates: June 17, 2023–September 24, 2023 ArtMember Preview: June 16, 2023Travels to High Museum of Art in Atlanta and Museum of Arts and Design in New York City in late 2023–2024Clockwise from top left: (1) Sonya Clark with Beaded Prayers Project, 1999–present. (2) Hair Craft Project Hairstyles, 2014. (3) Participant in Reconstruction Exercise, 2019. Installation view: The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Courtesy of the artist. (4) Sonya Clark at work on Finding Freedom, 2019-20. (5) Finding Freedom, 2019-20. Installation view: Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College. Courtesy of the artist. (6) Participant in The Healing Memorial project in Detroit, 2020. Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Feb. 15, 2023 – This summer, Cranbrook Art Museum will debut the new exhibition Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other, a mid-career survey of the pioneering fiber artist that will bring together her large-scale community-centered and participatory projects for the first time. It opens at Cranbrook Art Museum on June 17, ...Read More
Cranbrook Educational Community is pleased to announce Cranbrook Art Museum has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grants for Arts Projects award of $50,000. This funding will help support the research and curation of an upcoming exhibition examining Cuban mid-twentieth-century design. The grant is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA last week as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Cranbrook Art Museum strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy." “We are grateful for the continued support of the NEA,” said Laura Mott, Chief Curator of Cranbrook Art Museum. “This funding ...Read More
Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other is a mid-career survey of the artist’s work with a focus on her community-centered and participatory projects. Over her twenty-five-year career, Clark has been committed to issues of history, race, and reconciliation. Clark often undertakes this exploration through everyday fiber materials—hair, flags, found fabric—and craft practices. In Clark’s work, craft and community are intertwined, and the resulting projects facilitate new collective encounters across racial, gender, and socioeconomic divisions. The ethos of her participatory work is embedded in the title We Are Each Other. It is inspired by the poem about civil rights activist Paul Robeson (1971) by Gwendolyn Brooks, which ends with the phrase: “we are each other’s harvest: we are each other’s business: we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”In the Hair Craft Project, for example, Clark collaborated with hairstylists to use the hair on her own head as a canvas to highlight ...Read More
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