Knight Arts Challenge winners receive over $1 million for some dope projects

Dec 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm
click to enlarge Ash Arder won for their Whoop House Solar Music Sculpture project. - Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Ash Arder won for their Whoop House Solar Music Sculpture project.

Solar-powered sound sculptures, a shipping container turned audio-visual installation, and a land trust to stop gentrification. These are just a few of the art projects that will be funded through the 2021 Knight Arts Challenge.

Fourteen Detroit artists and art organizations were collectively awarded over $1 million to work on installations, exhibitions, and incubators that will elevate the city’s art ecosystem. They’re all straight-up Detroit — hardworking creatives who are harnessing the true spirit of the city’s innovation sans gentrification.

“One of my favorite things about Detroit is its hustle, the amazing energy it exudes. You see it all around you, but especially in the creativity of Detroit’s artists and art organizations,” Vice President of Arts at the Knight Foundation Victoria Rogers said in a press release. “The arts became a balm during the pandemic, helping us to deal with pain, to laugh, to reflect, and to remain engaged. We were inspired by these winning projects, their ideas and in the ways they used technology and innovative platforms to reach people where they are.”

click to enlarge Asia Hamilton, founder of Norwest Community Collaborative and the Womxnhouse Artist Residency. - Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Asia Hamilton, founder of Norwest Community Collaborative and the Womxnhouse Artist Residency.

Among the winners is Norwest Community Collaborative who received $150,000 for their Womxnhouse Artist Residency. The residency will host BIPOC and non-binary women in local artist Asia Hamilton’s childhood home as they turn it into an immersive installation. Residents will also help curate shows at Hamilton’s gallery in the North Rosedale Park neighborhood, Norwest Gallery of Art.

Sidewalk Detroit won $250,000 to continue its programming for permanent and semi-permanent public art across the city. Sidewalk has been killing the underground art game, funding murals in seemingly forgotten neighborhoods like Brightmoor, and bringing every kind of performance and visual art you can think of to the hood with its annual block party, the Sidewalk Festival.

We hope they’ll use the money to do more projects like Patrick Doughtery’s ‘Stickwork’ sculpture at Eliza Howell Park, which they funded over the summer because that thing is dope. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the winding spooky castle of woven tree branches then get over to Eliza Howell asap. The installation is expected to last until September 2023.

click to enlarge Patrick Doughtery’s ‘Stickwork’ sculpture at Eliza Howell Park. - Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inc.
Patrick Doughtery’s ‘Stickwork’ sculpture at Eliza Howell Park.

In addition to the shared $1 million, the 14 winners will also receive $10,000 each for technical support in implementing their project. And there’s more — another set of 13 Detroit-based artists and organizations will also get $10,000 each for equipment, software, and pretty much whatever tech supplies they need to make their visions a reality.

In the Knight Arts Challenge’s eight years in Detroit, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded over $14 million in grants to fund over 300 projects. What else can we say? Just know if you are a Detroit artist, there is grant money out there that can bring even your wildest dream of a masterpiece to life.

Check out the full list of the 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit awardees and details of their projects below.

American Riad - ($171,000)

The American Riad

A combination of public art and creative architecture with fair housing laws to form a model of art-based development that creates beauty while resisting gentrification.

Ash Arder - ($64,200)

Whoop House Solar Music Sculpture

A completely solar-powered sound sculpture that records and plays back instruments and voices of community members.

City of Asylum/Detroit - ($50,000)

City of Asylum/Detroit Artist-in-Exile Fellowship

A safe haven fellowship for artists and writers, who are in exile under threat of persecution in their home countries that allows them to connect with Detroit artists.

CultureSource - ($150,000)

Concert of Colors

A celebration of The Concert of Colors: Detroit Diversity Festival’s 30th anniversary with “return-to-live” programming that brings national and world attention to the region while retaining its dedication to the empowerment of local artists and communities through in-person and live-streamed performances.

DAAY - ($10,000)

Water of the Dead

A multimedia sound installation housed within a shipping container that traces Black identity through a spectrum of auditory and visual cues centered around water.

Detroit Parks Coalition - ($80,000)

Find Your Freedom

A festival that fuses storytelling, music, and art to lure people to discover or rediscover Detroit’s parks, history, and neighborhoods.

Fenwood Enterprises, LLC - ($50,000)

Reimagining a Legacy through Art and Technology

Activation of storefronts in Hope Village neighborhood by providing free, digital arts and technology education for youth taught by local teaching artists.

Live Coal Gallery - ($125,069)

Detroit rePatched

An arts-infused green space and art hub in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood that connects art with land, art with people, and art with home.

Norwest Community Collaborative - ($150,000)


An inclusive artists residency project to support BIPOC and Non-Binary women artists as part of our Detroit initiative to build neighborhoods.

Oloman Cafe and Gallery - ($11,592)

Microcosmic Entanglement

A series that will explore questions of belonging through seven exhibits at Oloman Cafe and Gallery in Hamtramck.

The Ron Allen Project - ($25,000)

The Ron Allen Project

A multimedia exhibit reflecting the work and art of poet, playwright, sobriety mentor, and Dharma priest Ron (Bodhidharma) Allen during the years he resided in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Sidewalk Detroit - ($250,000)

Spacial Equity Interventions in Public Art

A hyper-local public art fund embedded within the Sidewalk Festival that will install major works of permanent and semi-permanent public art within four neighborhoods across Detroit.

Simon Anton / Thing Thing - ($35,000)

Transforming Trash

A community plastic recycling lab that teaches local youth the strategies, technologies, and potential of creative reuse and upcycling through workshops that will result in installations of functional artwork.

What Pipeline - ($25,000)

Demario Dotson at What Pipeline

An immersive, interactive video installation by artist Demario Dotson exploring the intersection of Black femme, queerness, and heroism.

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