The Art X Detroit exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit featured works by 17 recipients of the 2009 Kresge Visual Artist Fellows Award.
Presented by the Kresge Foundation, the exhibition was one part of the five-day Midtown festival publically honoring the Kresge Fellows. Because visual art encompasses a variety of media, the centralizing force behind the eclectic collection at the MOCAD was “reimagining Detroit.”
Kresge has been “recognizing artists with the Fellowship Award since 2009 but had never pulled them all together for a public reception,” said George Jacobsen, Kresge’s associate program officer.
The work was arranged to flow logically in size and meaning, beginning with large installations and progressing into wall-installations, paintings, drawings and photographs throughout the length of the museum.
Lynne Avadenka’s two-part installation, “Goes and Comes,” told the story of spreading information through traditional, obsolete and modern printing techniques.
The large wall-drawing was composed of a print collage while the second installation transformed the structure of a book into sculpture.
Avadenka, who received her master’s in fine art from Wayne State, said Art X has exposed new talent in Detroit and has already given her “some wonderful opportunities” and “added to my hope for a real revitalization of our city.”
Another artist, Hartmut Austen, presented an installation simply titled “Wedge.”
The wooden structure, shaped after its namesake, consisted of two walls coming together to form a V-shape with several of Austen’s oil paintings and drawings attached.
A native of Germany, Austen has lived in Detroit since 1998 and said the “energy of Detroit is invigorating, active and diverse” but is still lacking some basic infrastructure necessary to maintaining improvements in the city.
A way of improving the infrastructure, he said, could come from universities involvement in the art community.
However, Austen, an adjunct at WSU, is quick to add “that Art X ... actually happening is huge; now it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and continuing it.”
Uniting this group of diverse artists resulted in a resonating exhibit of installations, drawings, paintings and photographs evocative of a complex love affair between the city and each unique artist. This naturally included the many stages and interpretations of any great love; only the passion, enthusiasm, contemplation and heartbreak were put on display within the post-industrial setting of the MOCAD.
Overall, Jacobsen said Kresge and the art community as a whole are “hoping that this will start or maybe shift the dialogue about art in Detroit. It’s creating a ripple effect and helping to erase the dated stereotypes that surround this exciting city.”