As Henry David Thoreau famously said, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Replace the words “this world” with “Detroit,” and you would have a phrase perfectly encapsulating the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s newest featured exhibition, The Architectural Imagination. Making it’s debut at the museum a couple of weeks ago, The Architectural Imagination is a mixed media exhibition featuring models, drawings and videos of twelve conceptual architectural and development projects for various areas around the city. The exhibit was organized and curated by Cynthia Davidson and Mónica Ponce de León for the US pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy. An eleven man Detroit advisory board had to choose the twelve pieces from over 250 submissions from architectural firms all over America, focusing the development projects on Mexicantown, the Detroit Riverfront Post Office, areas along the Dequindre Cut, and the historic Packard Plant. The models and ideas presented a combination of forward-thinking innovation and artistic vision. The physical dioramas were breathtaking, as they take center stage in the showroom, with the inspiration and conceptual sketches covering the walls. What is truly incredible about this exhibit is that each project is vastly different from the rest. Each artist and team’s individual merit and style shine through in their respective pieces, keeping the exhibit varied and interesting. The teams worked with residents of their respective areas, ensuring their project would truly service and positively impact the surrounding community. It is amazing to see the revitalization of Detroit take center stage at the international level, and it was a truly impactful experience seeing it firsthand. My hope for this wonderful art is that the next steps to have money put toward their construction comes to fruition, and these projects have the chance to come to life. Detroit is somewhat of a blank canvas for new structure and development, and given the city’s pedigree as a hub for beautiful design and architecture, these concepts fit right in. The effects of art on individuals and communities are often intangible, feeding the soul of the onlooker and inspiring them. The Architectural Imagination is contemporary art with the potential to have a concrete impact on Detroit communities, as well as stimulating them in the traditional artistic sense. For more information, visit mocadetroit.org, and I highly suggest visiting for yourself.
The exhibit will be open from Feb 11- April 23 2017, so go experience it while you can!