The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum (MFSM) will host the 60th Motor City Icon: The Spirit of Detroit exhibition through Jan. 19, 2019.
The exhibition is made up of many parts, including historical documents, photographs, objects that have “The Spirit of Detroit” displayed on them, a 30-second animated film and contemporary artwork by Kresge Visual Artist Fellowship receivers.
Marilyn Wheaton, the MFSM director, explained the importance and purpose of the modern artists’ exhibition.
“The gallery is comprised of works by 19 Kresge Visual Arts Fellows,” Wheaton said. “These fellows accepted the invitation and challenge to create artwork that speaks to the people, culture, personal identity and history of Detroit, or what Marshall Fredericks’ sculpture ‘The Spirit of Detroit’ means to them.”
The Marshall M. Fredericks archives are available to the public and include original sketches, presentation drawings, newspaper clippings, photographs, maquettes and correspondence of “The Spirit of Detroit,” which help illustrate the story of how the city monument came to be in 1958.
The public has donated different paraphernalia displaying “The Spirit of Detroit,” ranging from business cards to t-shirts to glasses.
Visual artists Melissa and Kimberly Hunley, twins originally from Warren, Michigan, donated one of Melissa’s pieces: a close-up ink drawing of the hand of Fredericks’ “The Spirit of Detroit.”
“I wanted to focus on one part of the sculpture,” Melissa Hunley said. “I wanted to do an iconic piece to honor Detroit.”
The 19 pieces of artwork by the Kresge Visual Arts Fellows include paintings, sculptures and video. The materials used vary greatly and include everything from acrylic paint to elastic cord and steel.
Jeanne Bieri’s piece titled “The Cape” is made from fiber, an army blanket, felt, silk and army suture cotton.
Bieri has hand-stitched WWII army blankets and army suture cotton to create artwork for over 20 years.
She talked about the relational aspect of art in her biography next to her artwork.
“Handwork adds to the contemplation of the art-making process and the careful organization of the parts,” Bieri said. “It is about collecting and asking why, a wondering about the past, the current and future, an excavation of memory and forgetting, permanence and loss, the expression of vaporous ideas realized through the act of making an image permanent in paint or mending it to make it whole.”
The exhibition is eclectic and pays homage to not only the city of Detroit, but also to Fredericks.
Each featured piece varies from the one next to it in color, style and execution, but the intent of each piece binds them together, giving an overall cohesiveness to the exhibition that people notice upon entering.
Lina Allen, an artist from Grosse Pointe, came to support one of her friends whose piece is on display and felt this sense of cohesion when walking through the exhibit.
“The art shows here are always top notch, so I go out of my way to see them,” Allen said. “The people and the stories behind the art shows how art connects us to life. It’s inspiring to see.”