I moved to Detroit two years ago after graduating from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Art & Design and a Minor in Social Work because many of my mentors lived in Detroit as artists and community organizers. It was the natural move for me to come to the city and finally join in their work at full capacity – which I was not able to do living in Ann Arbor – and also begin working on dreams of my own.
Fast forward one year later, and I have formed an artist space with a small group of Women artists called La Sirena Studio, on the corner of Avis and Elsmere located inside of the neighborhood blocks of Southwest Detroit on that make up The Alley Project (TAP) – a grassroots community art project led by Inside Southwest Detroit.
I had accomplished my dream of having a collective artist space in the community to share and create in, but now I had to activate and grow it. As I have grown in Detroit I have observed the way dreams are made in this resilient and passionate city, and I have collected some notes that I will use to build my dream and share with you in hopes that it might help you build yours:
- Learn from elders and mentors – The wealth of knowledge and wisdom held by generations of Detroiters is overwhelming when you are gifted it. Find people with experience doing what you want to do in Detroit, because the way we move here is different than any other city.
- You can’t, and shouldn’t, do it on your own – The communities and networks in Detroit are strong, tight-knit, and work with a collective culture. Things are done and created together and resources are shared. You shouldn’t be in it alone or for yourself, because people can sense intentions very quickly, and what value will it be if you have no one to share the things you create with?
- Create an asset – Focus on how your dream can become an asset to Detroit and an asset to the community. It will take on a life of its own and hopefully even grow bigger than you and beyond your years.