Art and Design Can Save Detroit

Young artists are fleeing New York and searching for new, accessible locales to set up shop. Detroit's budding arts scene has welcomed them with open arms.

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Just the mention of Detroit conjures images of crumbling factories, derelict homes -- a once-grand metropolis abandoned by a nation that leaped ahead without it. Thessaly La Force, in an article at Vogue, details the sorry plight of America's emblematic city of industrial ruin while also pondering what the future may hold:

"The crumbling mansions and empty factories are beautiful to behold but offer little in the way of a future. As David Adjaye remarked at Culture Lab Detroit, 'All architecture is ruins.' But, he added, a city is a 'living thing.'When it comes to Detroit, our responsibility is to think about how to keep it alive."

What's the Big Idea?

The secret to keeping Detroit alive may lie in the city's newest residents. Call it the Arts Invasion. The Motor City has emerged as one of the hottest destinations for young artists fleeing the increasing inaccessibility of New York.

“Detroit is constantly amazing me,” gushes a young artist in the 2012 documentary Detropia.He’s cleaning his kitchen appliances because, as he explains, he’s never owned anything so nice before. “I feel like it’s redefining for me the value of what things are,” he says. “$25,000 for an amazing loft? That just makes it accessible for people like me. I was never able to afford a home as an artist.” He adds: “We can experiment here, because if we fail we haven’t really fallen anywhere.”

La Force points to the influx of artists and recalls the efforts of the city's leadership to invest in upheavals in design. The basic theory: Detroit needs a face lift if it's ever going to move away from its past. The artists and designers moving into the city present an opportunity to get that process started.

Read more at Vogue

Photo credit: Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

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