By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Sunshine and vibrant color combined July 11 to enhance the dedication of the latest Pockets of Perception mural, “Replenish,” on Alanos Pizza and Subs, 14212 Michigan Ave.
The project, supported by the Dearborn Community Fund, is helping create an art mecca along Michigan Avenue in east Dearborn.
Emmajean Woodyard, executive director of the non-profit Dearborn Community Fund, said the mural is an awesome addition to the community.
“It’s a celebration of creativity, community renewal and teamwork,” she said. “The Pockets of Perception – we are one community – includes in its mission support for arts and cultural initiatives that benefit the community – our community.”
Woodyard said the POP program provides a creative way to address cultural diversity through a team approach, and to provide a work-type experience, an apprentice-style program for young artists which allows the team to contribute to the community.
The student team members, led by Sunshine Durant, the guest artist known as Midwest Anthony, and Padzieski Gallery curator Sasha Corder, included: Maren Kerr, 18, of Allen Park; Dearborn residents Lauren Boyce, 15, Danya Jamalaldin, 17, Isabela Sierzputowski, 15, Gwen Zonca, 17, and Grace Schock, 16; Yasmin Gonzalez, 17, of Lincoln Park; and Eliana Pettigrew, 17, of Wyandotte.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud thanked the DCF for making project like the POP art installations possible.
“This is now my favorite piece of art, amongst all the murals that have happened along the Michigan Avenue corridor,” he said. “It’s a beautiful piece of art, and I think it is important that we elevate the importance of art and culture all throughout our city, and having really monumental pieces, such as this, really add to that feel that is Dearborn.”
Hammoud said it beautifies the area and adds to the area’s presence.
“I look forward to many more to come,” he said. “Wherever you see a wall, by all means, I will say, ‘Yes, let’s paint it, and whatever we can do to assist, know that you have our full support at city hall.’”
Durant praised the POP team for its wonderful job.
“This is their design,” she said. “I guide it, but it is all their thoughts and processes combined into one. They start it, they paint it and they get it done, and I am really proud of them.”
Durant said she is thankful that the Dearborn community is supporting public art installations, and believes the mural district is successfully coming together.
Advisor Bob Curtis said part of the purpose of the POP program is to bring high school students together to get to know each other and work together.
“This team came together so fast, and came to common ground very fast,” he said. “They each had their own interpretation of what should go in the mural and the consensus of what they did was fantastic.
“The really neat part was the first day we were here, every single one of them grabbed a roller or brush, and they seemed to have always done it. They were right up on the ladders, right away.”
Curtis said the group of young artists, who met in May, leave the project as lifelong friends and colleagues.
Architect and artistic advisor Mike Kerr said he appreciates the creativity.
“The depth and three-dimensional quality of this installation is wonderful,” he said. “But the biggest thing for me is the idea of connecting all parts of the Dearborn community.
“We are doing it on many levels in the city, and the mayor ran on that platform, and we are trying to connect the youth from all over the city to recognize their strengths.”
Kerr said Dearborn is a city of immigrants, and it needs to use the strengths of all of its residents, which is what the program is about.
He said group projects with artists is unusual.
“This is the way you work when you get out in the real world, but most creative people graduate from college and go into jobs and never have experienced having to work with other people to get something done,” he said. “This allows them to come up with a concept together, compromise on the ideas, which is never easy, especially with creative thoughts, and then actually implement what they produce.”
Team member Pettigrew said the mural’s background contains plants native to Michigan, to symbolize communities like the ones they live in.
“Everyone is different, but everyone is vibrant and beautiful and important to that community, and everyone gives back and works together,” she said.
Pettigrew said the central figure of the mural, a girl, is a community nurturer.
“She gives back to her community by replenishing the rest of the ecosystem with the water that’s coming down from the bowl,” she said.
Pettigrew said the bowl represents a kintsugi bowl, the Japanese art of repairing pottery by bonding the broken pieces together with lacquer mixed with a powdered precious metal.
“We wanted that to represent the idea of something that is still useful to the community,” she said. “A vessel that was broken but doesn’t try to hide its faults, but celebrates them instead and is stronger for that.”
For more information on the POP program and the Dearborn Community Fund, go to dearborncommunityfund.org/community-projects/pockets-of-perception.