Writing on the wall 

...Our song is a slam a screen

door sneaking out late tappin on

your window when were on the

phone and you talk real slow

cause its late and your mama

don't know Our song is the way

you laugh....

—Anamarie & Shannique

 

These words were taken from a mural

gracing one of the walls of Detroit Industrial Projects (DIP), a gallery located on the third floor of Building No. 2 in the Russell Industrial Center. The space is the creation of artist Jeannette Strezinski, whose painting studio is directly adjacent to the gallery. Her concept for the gallery evolved as an extension of her own artistic process — emphasizing the creative process rather than the finished product.

Strezinski seeks to provide artists with "an uninhibited setting free of conventional constraints." Exhibitors are free to alter the walls and the floor, to suspend objects from the ceiling and to work in the gallery for long stretches of time, allowing the creative process to unfold on site.

DIP's first show was a collaboration between recent CCS graduates Kevin Beasley, Miroslav Cukovic and Curtis Glenn. The artists worked within the gallery for three weeks, bringing in found materials — pipes, crates, tent skeletons, fishing gear, small paintings, bags — and exchanging ideas. In the end, the show was a kind of "Where's Waldo" for an industrial building; it wasn't clear who did what to the space, what elements of the interior were already in place and what was added for the show. The success created a momentum that has not stopped.

The most recent exhibit, facilitated by art student CamieLee Frasher, involved five young women between the ages of 13 and 15 who attend Alternative for Girls, a program that provides high-risk young women with opportunities for self-affirming experiences. The resulting murals were remarkably striking and vibrant, completely covering the walls of the gallery and depicting images of rural scenes, graffiti, flowers, figures and text to address issues of sexuality, fashion, the bonds of family and friendship, world peace and racism.

One quality Strezinski has noticed is that each show seems to be totally unlike the one preceding it. The gallery recently opened an exhibit of the work of Croatian artist Srdjan Segan, who uses charcoal, coffee and dyes to create works on paper stretching up to 30 feet in length. Depicting human or hybrid human and animal figures, the drawings sometimes allude to the artist's previous experiences studying medicine.

Soon the young women's murals, a testament to their spirit and resilience, will be painted over, returning the gallery to a state not unlike a blank canvas, where the alchemical process of artistic creation may take place once again, and Segan can make his mark.

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