When God or whoever is out there made Detroiters, they sprinkled ingenuity on top of heaping amounts of creativity, grit, and talent. Our city is abundant with artists who fuel the city’s creative undertow, from painters to poets and performance artists and everything in between. This feature will highlight a different artist each week. Got someone in mind you think deserves the spotlight? Hit us up at [email protected].
Artist of the week: Cyrah Dardas
Cyrah Dardas is a queer multimedia artist, curator, and art educator living in Waawitaatanong, aka Detroit.
Her art is informed by her work as a care worker and steward of the land. To view Dardas’s work is to engage in a ritual — sometimes literally, as a live ceremonial installation that’s happening before your eyes, and other times as the byproduct of her spiritual practice and reclaimed ancestral traditions.
Dardas was a 2022 Emerging Artist Fellow at Playground Detroit and an artist in residence for Womxnhouse Detroit 2022. They are also the co-founder of Paper Street Press, which produces zines highlighting Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QTBIPOC), and disabled BIPOC artists.
Her Womxnhouse installation, “Practices of re/ belonging” included a patchwork quilt and shawl the artist hand-dyed and stitched. Her tools were also part of the installation — plants, herbs, flowers, and salvaged bricks found in Detroit that were used to create the dye colors.
It’s hard to define Dardas’s work as they utilize a range of materials and techniques. But whether she’s creating tapestries, watercolor paintings, portraits in ceremonial ash, or flower altars, her art is rooted in divine cosmological expansion that calls us home to connection, community, and communion with the earth.
Our Craft of Care, their curatorial project with literary and visual art co-working space the Room Project, focuses on artists with regenerative and restorative practices. It encourages us to find rest, a most sacred and loving act in this world of capitalist-fueled assault on the senses we call life.
In a powerful celebration of the Divine Feminine, Dardas also curated a multi-media group exhibit called Theotokos: New Visions of the Mother of God that featured work by local faves Sydney James, Sabrina Nelson, BreAnn White, Olivia Guterson, Darryl Terrell, Xavier Cortez, Zeinab Saab, Bree Gant, Ijania Cortez, and more at the Schvitz in 2018.
After countless group shows, Dardas finally has her first solo show Birth of Mithra, which includes watercolor paintings, mirrors, and an experimental film.
“I consider my practice as a ceremonialist as an alchemy that can rebuild and remember sacred relationships, patterns and processes,” she says in an artist statement. “Curiosity, learning, and connection are integral to this practice as it is reflective and relational. I seek a re-belonging to this land that can only be possible with deep study and rigorous listening. I do this for personal liberation and to move toward a regenerative way of being on this land and with others who also inhabit it.”
It was fittingly unveiled on the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice, at Cedar North farm and gallery.
Where to see their work: Birth of Mithra is up at Cedar North until March of 2023. 2312 E. Kasson Rd., Cedar; cedarnorthtc.com.
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