For our culminating and last challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, eight teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they were excited to support. Leveraging skills practiced and developed over the course of the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their partner organization. Fellows Kaj Althaus, Bella Kiser, Marisol Dorantes-Silva, Gabrielle Larkin, and Mariam Makki partnered with nonprofit Sidewalk Detroit with Augusta Morrison and Ryan Myers-Johnson. Learn more about the collaboration below.

Sidewalk Detroit is a robust public art and community engagement nonprofit operating in the heart of Detroit. Each year they host the Sidewalk Festival, a profound and engaging street fair showcasing all of the best artwork and talent that Detroit has to offer. Additionally, in the fall of 2021, the organization brought in Patrick Dougherty, a world-renowned sculptor, to engage with the community to create a beautiful outdoor & semi-permanent piece in Eliza Howell Park, seen below. Since each member in our group is an artist, partnering with an organization that works with community and visual art was a priority that led us to Sidewalk Detroit.

On our kickoff day, our partner liaisons, Augusta Morrison & Ryan Meyers-Johnson, welcomed us into Sidewalk’s office. We collectively began to finalize our project to develop a framework for an annual artist residency that would resemble the Patrick Dougherty Project. As we set out on our empathy interviews, we met with several artists who have done similar residencies and community members in the Joy Southfield neighborhood where the new pieces will be implemented. After hearing from our stakeholders, we built our deliverables with the goal of answering the question, how might we create an artist residency program that genuinely includes and elevates the community.

 “By listening to our stories, needs, concerns and wants, the art should reflect the people, the times we are in – at the time of the piece. Art tells the story of what’s happening now or needs to happen.” – Tammy Black, President of the Treehouse Project

By the end of the project we had created three concrete and tangible deliverables to provide to sidewalk Detroit. One was a financial outline based on the dollars that went into the Patrick Dougherty project and some additional insights from our artists interviews. The second was an artist residency timeline that beginning from recruiting artist all the way to the end of a residency. And lastly, the third deliverable was a collection of community engagement suggestions for artists in the residency. In the end, Sidewalk Detroit was very pleased with our work and will hope to implement the residency as soon as next year.