Neighbors Create “Fiber Art on the Ave”
After nearly two years of planning, fundraising and creating, Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion (between 7 Mile and Outer Drive) will be dressed up in an array of fiber art created by local children, teens and adults.
On Saturday, Sept. 24 during the annual Detroit Design Festival event, Detroit Fiber Works will preview its Knight Arts Challenge project, “Fiber Art on the Ave”. When completed, the 150 foot outdoor fiber art installation will be comprised of two rectangular metal and wood structures, connected by solar light fixtures and adorned with fiber art.
The installation is a collaborative effort between Detroit Fiber Works, a black-owned, woman-owned creative gallery, and U of D Mercy’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center, and incorporates art created by several dozen residents of neighborhoods surrounding the historic “Avenue of Fashion.”
The median on Livernois between Outer Drive and Cambridge will be adorned with more than 70 unique works of art, including twine lanterns, fiber art bowls, eco-dyed scarves and mixed-media weavings, in a rainbow of colors.
Participants ranging in age from 9 years to 60+ in small group workshops, were taught fiber art techniques including wet felting, eco-dyeing and weaving using natural fibers, plant materials and mixed media materials. “The workshops were so much fun and I learned how to do lots of different techniques that I had never even heard of before. I’m really proud to be part of an effort to make my neighborhood a more interesting and artistic place.” said Deena Allen, one of the teens who participated in the workshops.
Each workshop series began with an hours-long tour of existing public art in Detroit, led by the Detroit Experience Factory, with visits to Dabl’s African Bead Museum, Lincoln Street Art Park, City Sculpture Park, the DIA, and other “artful” locations. Workshop participants and community members also attended brainstorming sessions to express their views on the installation design.
“With Detroit now named a UNESCO City of Design, we are thrilled to have made it possible for ordinary citizens to put their stamp on the design esthetic of Northwest Detroit. We had a unique opportunity to create what we call ‘Public Art Created by the Public.’” said Mandisa Smith, co-owner of Detroit Fiber Works.
The project was made possible with support from the State of Michigan Public Spaces Community Places Grant, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Experience Factory, Detroit Luxury Transportation, the Surface Design Association, and more than 100 individual donors who helped to match the Knight Foundation’s $20,000 grant last year.
The celebration will begin at 5 p.m. Sept. 24, and expected to attend is Dave Walker, the City of Detroit’s new Director of Design for the Department of Planning and Development. Workshop participants will demonstrate various fiber art techniques throughout the evening, both on the Livernois median and inside Detroit Fiber Works, at 19359 Livernois Ave.
Attendees will have the opportunity to create their own eco-printed paper. Donations toward completion of the project will be accepted in any amount.
The date also marks “Light Up Livernois” and the third anniversary of the four Livernois businesses that made their debut in September, 2013 as winners of Detroit Economic Growth Corporations “Revolve Detroit” program. Like Detroit Fiber Works, all are black-owned, woman-owned businesses: Art In Motion, Good Cakes and Bakes, and Love Travels Imports.
The Fiber Art on the Ave installation is expected to be completed by Fall, 2016 and will remain on the median indefinitely. “Because fiber art is, by its very nature, temporary, especially when exposed to the elements, the installation will forever be evolving. That makes it even more exciting!” said Smith.
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