The pump station on Woodward by the Ford Highland Park Administration Building looks pretty dreary right now. Nothing distinctive … just plain white paint … but that’s going to change this summer when you’ll see a colorful mural gracing station.
It won’t be a tag … a piece of graffiti. It will be a design created by a student at the Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies and painted on the pump station by Summer in the City, which encourages young people to volunteer in Detroit.
It all began when the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) launched a design completion for students in an afterschool class at the academy. About 10 kids from the class, consisting of students from 8th graders to seniors, finished designs for the contest and some entered multiple works.
“The teacher was pleased because it helps explain there is community application for art,” says WA3 Executive Director Debbie Schutt.
The entries were whittled down to two by a group of judges and now you can vote for the one you’d like to see on the pump house building this summer. Vote by Monday, June 29. Cast your vote here.
The two finalists are Torri Richardson and Natasha Guest. The name of the winning artist will appear on the mural, which will cover two sides of the building.
“We chose the two we thought were the boldest,” says Schutt, who was one of the judges. “When you get on Woodward that building is really small. Some of the designs were too intricate. We needed bold art people could read.”
Other judges included:
- Michigan Department of Transportation: James Schultz and Sharleta Paris
- Summer In the City: Hannah Burns and Amanda Saddles
- Henry Ford Academy: Janice Polzin and Lisa Kreinbring
- Highland Park Tax Increment Finance Authority and Business Association: Mark Hackshaw, chair
- Woodward Avenue Action Association: Karen Mejia
The Woodward Avenue Action Association owns the four-story, Albert Kahn-designed Ford Highland Park Administration Building as well as the executive parking garage, both of which face Woodward. No one has ever tagged those buildings, says Schutt.
“One of suggestions was to do a mural to help prevent the pump house from being tagged,” she said.
MDOT, which owns the pump station agreed, and joined WA3 in meeting with the academy where they talked about the history of the site and its role in the innovation and change in Detroit.
The mural painting program is joint effort between three non-for-profit organizations, MDOT, Summer in the City and the Woodward Avenue Action Association as well as the academy. “It is a cooperative effort to let folks know something is happening,” said Schutt.
WA3’s vision is to renovate the administration building and the executive and open a welcome center to tell the story of Ford’s Highland Park plant, which opened October 7, 1913. Henry Ford launched the moving assembly line there, making it the birthplace of industrial mass production. The assembly line reduced the time it took to build the Model T from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes, which lowered the price of the car. In 1914 Ford increased workers’ wages from $2.34 a day to $5, which was the beginning of middle class.
WA3 hopes to open the Welcome Center in 2018 and is currently holding a capital campaign to raise the funds needed for renovation.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ford Highland Park check out these sources:
Auto Trader Classics photos and story: Old Factories: Ford Highland Park Plant
Car Data Video: Ford Historic Model T
The Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies opened in 2009 at the new A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in Detroit’s New Center. It is a partnership between the College for Creative Studies (CCS), a world leader in art and design education, and Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI), a non-profit organization founded by Ford Motor Company Fund and The Henry Ford and dedicated to creating public schools in public spaces. It expected all students will go to college and they are very prepared to meet that challenge. At the academy they explore their interests in careers and learn to be creative and innovative.
Hands-on projects like this one with WA3 and MDOT are encouraged.
Founded in 2002, Summer in the City aims to change the way young people volunteer in Detroit. Working in the summer months, it gathers a diverse group of young people to paint, plant and play in the city by creating murals, building and maintaining urban gardens, and running youth enrichment programs in neighborhoods.
It’s easy to participate. Volunteers simply come to one of ten carpool sites throughout the region.
Painting the mural at the pump station fits right in.
Remember to vote by June 29.