Detroit Murals Spotlight

Feb 1, 2024 | NEA Lab | 0 comments

By Mary C. Byron, BA.

Detroit is a city full of murals that help spread a rich cultural history and reflect a strong sense of community. Here are a few murals from our Detroit Public Art database in the first of several mural spotlights to be highlighted in the NEA Lab blog.

Artist: Delicious Gold (Detroit)

Title: Lasky Recreation Center

Year: 2020

Organization/program (if any): Detroit City Walls

Photo credit to NEA Lab

Address: 13200 Fenelon St, Detroit, MI 48212

According to the City Walls Detroit brief, this mural was installed to increase visibility of the Lasky Recreation Center as a community hub, contributing to community empowerment and connection among neighborhood residents. The Recreation Center intends to serve as a safe space for area youth as well as a community space for people to come together to socialize while promoting health and wellness, particularly the enjoyment of green space as represented by the mural’s prominent features of greenery. 

Artist: Max Sansing (Chicago) and ProBlak (Boston)

Title: Afrofuturism

Year: 2021

Organization/program (if any): BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival

Photo credit to NEA Lab

Address: 901 Clay, Detroit, MI 48209

This mural by Max Sansing and ProBlak was part of the inaugural BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival in 2021. The BLKOUT Walls festival was created by Sydney G. James, a local Detoirt mural artist, Thomas “Detour” Evans of Denver, Colorado and Sansing of Chicago, Illinois. The festival centers around racial diversity and representation in mural art, as well as paying each participating artist a commission per mural in addition to lodging, meals and transportation.

Artist: Bak Pak Durden (Detroit)

Title: Let’s Build a Community

Year: 2019

Organization/program (if any): Detroit City Walls

Photo credit to Bak Pak Durden

Address: 16927 E Warren, Detroit, MI 48224

This mural by Bak Pak Durden, a self-taught artist from Detroit, features the nostalgic lego-style men working together to build a house, representing the connection of place to the surrounding community that Bak Pak elicits through much of their artworks. Bak Pak Durden was a 2019 artist in residence at the Blight Abatement Artist Residency Program (BAARP) through Detroit City Walls, and a participant in the BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival. 

Artist: Ijania Cortez (Detroit) and Richard Wilson (London-born Detroit-based)

Title: Ruth Ellis Alive!

Year: 2022

Organization/program (if any): Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center

Photo credit to LBBA Architects

Address: 61 Clairmount Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

This mural features several portraits of LGBTQ activist Ruth Ellis, who made her Detroit home a refuge for Black gays and lesbians in need in the 1930s, installed on the 4-story tall facade of the Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center for at-risk youth. The center serves as a housing development for young, unhoused LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender women of color.