A few weeks ago, my friend Jess invited me to participate in an Instagram Takeover for her blog The Creative Armory. She asked me if I could share three of my favorite Detroit murals with her followers. This topic was one that I had no problem contributing to because I love mural art, especially city street art!
You can checkout the Instagram Takeover here if you like.
The small Tennessee city I’m from doesn’t have murals like Detroit. I remember when we first came to Detroit and I saw the city street art, I was really amazed. I had seen mural art in movies and on TV shows but never in person. The first Detroit mural I saw was the Detroit Chimera (seen below).
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MURALS IN THE MARKET IS A GREAT PLACE TO FIND DETROIT MURALS
Detroit murals are a must-see when visiting the D. You can find them throughout the city and various neighborhoods or in the Eastern Market District. The best place to start your search for Detroit’s city street art is with Murals in the Market.
Each September, 1xRUN hosts Murals in the Market in Detroit’s Eastern Market. A group of local, national, and international artists are invited to paint murals or create other artwork to be displayed throughout Eastern Market.
The festival launched in September 2015 and there are now over 100 murals found in Eastern Market. In 2018, the Smithsonian dubbed the city street art festival as one of the best mural festivals in the world!
DETROIT MURALS ALSO FOUND THROUGHOUT THE CITY
Eastern Market isn’t the only place in Detroit where you can find city street art. Detroit murals are also located throughout the city and in different Detroit neighborhoods. I have discovered beautiful murals in Southwest Detroit (also known as Mexicantown), Hamtramck, Downtown Detroit, North End, and Corktown.
CITY STREET ART SHARES IMPORTANT SOCIAL MESSAGES
One of the things I love about city street art is that many of the artists share important social messages through their art. From positive and uplifting messages to a call to action on social injustice issues, mural art is often created to encourage people to make changes in their life and community.
#WHATLIFTSYOU BY KELSEY MONTAGUE
Street artist Kelsey Montague launched the What Lifts You campaign in 2014 to encourage people to share the stories of inspiration. On her official website, Montague wrote:
“I never expected the response I would receive. After just a week in NYC my first set of What Lifts You wings had a line down the street of people wanting to take a picture with the piece and post about what inspires them in their life. I realized that people love the opportunity to become a ‘living work of art’ by stepping into the wings and they love getting the chance to talk about what inspires them in their lives!”
The What Lifts You mural can be found on Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit.
NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL BY MARILYN RONDON
In September 2017, the El Club (popular night club in Southwest Detroit) hosted fundraisers in response to President Trump ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Marilyn Rondon painted the “No Human is Illegal” mural outside of the club, a powerful message in solidarity with the issues many immigrants face when coming to the U.S.
APPROPRIATED NOT APPRECIATED BY SYDNEY G. JAMES
Detroit artist Sydney G. James is known to create beautiful city street art that features powerful images and messages about social justice issues. Her piece “Appropriated Not Appreciated: is one of my favorite Detroit murals.
In the image, the Black woman is seen holding a piece of paper which reads: “The Definitive List of Everything That Will Keep You Safe As A Black Woman Being In America.” It’s a quote by Detroit writer Scheherazade Washington Parrish.
You can find “Appropriated Not Appreciated” in Eastern Market, Detroit. It was featured in Murals in the Market 2016.
MALICE GREEN MURAL BY SYDNEY G. JAMES
Another powerful piece by Sydney G. James is the Malice Green mural. Along with her team, she recently painted the mural a few weeks ago. Last weekend, Travis and I went to Highland Park to view it in-person.
In 1992, Malice Green, an unarmed Black man, was beaten to death by two Detroit police officers. James created the mural in honor of Green and other Black Americans who were killed by police brutality or because of racism.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, James said of the mural: “I told someone at the beginning of this, I was like, this is going to be the most beautiful, ugly thing that I’ve ever painted, and that’s exactly what it is. The further along we go with it, the more painful it is to do.”
I breathed a heavy sigh as I looked over the list of names featured on the Malice Green mural. Just as I read George Floyd’s and Elijah McClain’s last words, my heart sank as I looked at each name in the mural. To know this list is much longer than the one painted on the brick wall, is heartbreaking, to say the least.
You can find the Malice Green mural in Highland Park at Hamilton and Puritan.
SEVEN MORE DETROIT MURALS I LOVE
Do you love city street art, too? Which Detroit mural is your favorite?
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All photographs were taken by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.