Lining McNichols with murals

If you watch how the area on West McNichols between Marygrove College and University of Detroit Mercy is changing you would swear it’s following the formula its local artist Charles McGee uses. He builds his work in layers.
One of those transformation layers comes from a community partnership between Neighborhood One, Summer in the City and Marygrove College.  It is working with local middle schoolers to create murals that will connect the two campuses.
“The idea was to make this area distinctive by the amount of murals,” says Rose E. DeSloover, Dean of Fine Arts at Marygrove College.“Instead of working with designs from outside the city, we thought why not work with designs created here.”
Luckily, one of their neighbors is Charles McGee, who was the first person to be named a Kresge Eminent Artist.  In addition to speaking with middle school students from Bates Academy and Gesu Catholic School he provided designs for students to use. The design techniques the middle school students learned helped create their mural designs. DeSloover says the students were very perceptive about McGee’s technique, noticing that he builds his work in layers that allow a texture that almost appears 3D.  
Last year Marygrove worked with Summer in the City and Neighborhood One to give the 80 students who participated firsthand experience painting the murals. They learned how to scale their designs to fit a mural along with techniques for painting murals. Students even debated the messages they would convey if their murals were on billboards.
The students also had the chance to have their designs displayed at the college’s Beyond Words Library Gallery.  Four group designs and 53 individual designs, all influenced by McGee’s techniques, had a two-month showing last summer.  
Interest in the program was strong enough for Marygrove to participate again this year.  The design and education stage started in February and runs through May 20.  Painting will take place in collaboration with Summer in the City and Neighborhood One this summer.
As this neighborhood collaboration begins to change the look of McNichols, it begs one question.  Will you be watching the transformation?

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