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College for Creative Studies students to create sculptures for The District Detroit thanks to Olympia Development, Ilitch Charities

ODM CCS Photo Opp

Sometime this summer or fall some very cool sculptures will be installed in The District Detroit in time for the opening of Little Caesars Arena. Right now though, those sculptures are just a glimmer in the minds of a short list of fine arts students at the College for Creative Studies (CCS).

These students are in a special course that begins this month and is part of a collaboration between Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM), Ilitch Charities and CCS to bring student-led artwork to public spaces in The District Detroit.

The District Detroit

The District Detroit

Ilitch Charities and ODM will invest $800,000 to fund the class at CCS, as well as to manufacture and install the resulting public artworks. The fine arts students will work with faculty to conduct research, develop designs and physical models and produce documents outlining their design intentions. They will also receive scholarship funds to be used towards tuition. In addition, students whose artwork is selected for installation will receive scholarship funds or a stipend.

“The District Detroit represents a transformative effort in the heart of our great city, and public art is an important part of our plan,” says Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “The College for Creative Studies attracts many of the best, brightest and most talented creative students from around the world, and they are an ideal partner to bring public art to The District Detroit. The sculptures that result from this innovative class will bring additional personality and character to the world-class neighborhoods in The District Detroit and will be a source of pride for CCS students who help create them.”

The community will also be part of the process. Over the course of the semester-long program, CCS will invite visiting artists, community members and architects who have specialized knowledge in creating and designing outdoor sculptures to collaborate with students. ODM and CCS will engage the community through this special project by designing pieces that foster a vibrant sense of personality within The District Detroit.

Rendering of Woodward Square

Rendering of Woodward Square

CCS will conduct a series of interactions with its Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) and community+public arts:DETROIT (CPAD) programs. CPAD projects reach beyond the typical arts audience and involve neighborhoods in unique ways. It engages with their sites, takes into account specific communities, the environment and their political and social histories, which is the intended outcome for The District Detroit.

“We applaud Olympia Development of Michigan and Ilitch Charities for recognizing that public art can be an essential element in defining the character of a neighborhood and for wanting to develop that art through a collaboration among student artists, professional artists and members of the local community,” says Richard L. Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies. “CCS is excited to be part of The District Detroit project because it presents a unique educational opportunity for our students and is a major contributor to Detroit’s resurgence.” .

CCS Community Arts Partnerships

CCS Community Arts Partnerships

Through CPAD, the college is also in the process of building an advisory council comprised of local artists and creatives who will work with the students throughout the semester. Current members are:

  • Michael Boettcher, urban planner
  • Vince Carducci, dean of undergraduate studies, College for Creative Studies
  • Francis Grunow, Detroit community representative
  • Kimberly Harden, architecture instructor, Cass Technical High School
  • Tim van Laar, professor and chair of fine arts, College for Creative Studies
  • George R. N’Namdi, founder and director, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art
  • Marcel Parent, arena curator, Olympia Entertainment
  • Gina Reichert, architect and co-principal, Design 99, and Co-Founder, Power House Productions
  • Melissa Thomas, Detroit community representative
  • Nathaniel Wallace, vice president, Communications Professionals Inc.

At the end of the semester, there will be a juried process to select up to four concepts to be developed into full-scale sculptures that will be installed in The District Detroit. The students whose work is chosen will work under the guidance of a faculty advisor to partner with a third-party to create the sculpture and manage logistics of manufacturing, shipment, site preparation and installation.

Given the terrific work we’ve seen come from CCS students, these sculptures will certainly enhance The District Detroit and bring the neighborhood closer together.

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