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September is Detroit Month of Design: Five Exhibits to Check Out

Every September, creative partners across Detroit come together to show off their latest artworks and ideas during Detroit Month of Design. This month-long event is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the community to celebrate the city’s role as a national and global design capital. Programmed by Design Core, a department within the College for Creative Studies, Detroit Month of Design is back for its 11th year, with events and experiences that attendees can enjoy outside, indoors, or from the comfort of their homes.

Throughout the month, we will highlight some of the events and experiences hosted during Detroit Month of Design that celebrate Detroit’s unique culture and diversity. Learn more about Detroit Month of Design here.


Still Going On – What’s Going on 50th Anniversary

Sept. 1-Nov. 30

The Still Going On exhibition is a free, outdoor, walkable installation that stretches from Woodward Avenue to the front steps of Hitsville U.S.A. on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. The eight-exhibit installation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ album and features select tracks paired with historical and contemporary photographs to prompt conversation about what has and hasn’t changed since Gaye first released the album in 1971. According to Motown Music, the “groundbreaking album…confronted the racism, violence, imperialism, and poverty that plagued the nation.” While Detroit Month of Design officially ends on Sept. 30, the installation remains open to the public until Nov. 30.

Web Model Dot Space | Aaron Jones, Waajeed, and Wesley Taylor

Saturdays, Sept. 11 and 18

Web Model Dot Space is a suspended, bell-like dome that graphically represents the interior of an existing Detroit church as a floating, immersive, performative venue.  The environment will incorporate looping tracks composed by Waajeed entitled “Worship Tones.” The music tracks are derived from legacies and experiences within the Black Church. The walk-in artwork encourages viewers to consider how inclusive churches have historically been in diversity of people, methodologies, and thinking. The exhibit will be open Sept. 11 and 18 from 1-4 p.m., and a gallery talk will take place on Sept. 11 from 3-4 p.m. Other days will be available by appointment.

Steps Toward Justice: Artis Lane’s Portraits of Rosa Parks

Sept. 11-Oct. 23

Explore the intersection of social justice, art, and design in Steps toward Justice, a free exhibition at Collected Detroit. The exhibit will feature multimedia imagery of Rosa Parks and other civil rights icons and issues across the globe by the renowned 94-year-old painter and sculptor Artis Lane. Lane was a close friend of Parks, and her bronze bust of Parks was selected for President Biden’s Oval Office.

Steps toward Justice will also feature experiential galleries to allow attendees to connect on a personal level with Lane, her subjects, and with deeper social justice issues from the past and present. One of the experiential galleries will be a real staircase set in the gallery and immediately behind the “Steps” sculpture. By climbing the steps, attendees will be able to connect with Parks and her journey and reflect on their own journey.

The Steps toward Justice exhibition opening will be held at Collected Detroit (2439 4th St., Detroit) on Saturday, Sept. 11, from 6-9 p.m. The exhibit will remain open until Oct. 23 and be available to visit Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 25, at 2 p.m., art historian Deborah Lubera Kawsky will also host a talk to address Lane’s Civil Rights imagery and the role of art and artists as instruments of social justice. Register for the opening on Eventbrite.

Celebrating Detroit’s Black Urban Planners and Spaces

Tuesday, Sept. 14

Take a tour of the Julian C. Madison Building, a building owned by Detroit urban planner and engineer Sharon Madison. Madison is known as a trailblazer for women and minorities in the urban planning community. During the tour, Madison will share the history of Julian C. Madison, one of the first Black civil engineers. His namesake building is currently home to a hub of diverse entrepreneurial spaces and leaders in Detroit.

The tour will be at 1420 Washington Blvd. Detroit, MI on Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 1-3 p.m.

Invoking the Spirit: Detroit’s Black Bottom

Wednesday, Sept. 15

The Detroit Historical Society and Design Core Detroit launched History x Design in early 2021 to bring rich and inclusive content to Detroiters. The two organizations partnered with Octane Design, Black Bottom Archives, and Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation to create Invoking the Spirit: Detroit’s Historic Black Bottom as a part of the History x Design tour and for Detroit Month of Design. Their goal was to develop a replicable and scalable exhibit model that allows city residents and visitors to experience Detroit’s history in public spaces. The result is this free multi-layered walking tour of Detroit’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood, seen through the lens of former residents and their descendants.

Each stop on the Invoking the Spirit tour can be activated on a smartphone. Tourgoers can be in “conversation” with Black Bottom residents through oral histories, images, video, and everyday neighborhood narratives.

Invoking the Spirit: Detroit’s Black Bottom will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Registration is required and can be completed online.