Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition, Ghana ThinkTank, North End Woodward Community Organization, and Central Detroit Christian CDC, have formed a partnership with think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia - two Muslim-Majority nations - to rebuild this corner through arts and culture into a riad (a central, shared courtyard, filled with art and gardens).
A series of soaring stainless steel sculptures will form the outline of the riad, or courtyard, and local artists will fill it with art. The riad will be a public space for gatherings, workshops, gardening, performances, and the display of local and international art.
To prevent gentrification and displacement, after the sculpture courtyard is built, Central Detroit Christian CDC will work with North End Woodward Community Organization to develop the surrounding buildings as affordable housing, guaranteed in perpetuity through the legal and financial protections of a Land Trust and Equity Co-op.
Marwa Al-Sabouni, a visionary Syrian architect/ TED Fellow/ award-winning author, has joined the American Riad project! Living amidst the civil war and bombardment in her country, Marwa has been rebuilding Syria through architecture that applies Islamic design principles to create contemporary community-focused housing.
American Riad is thrilled to announce that we were awarded a $135,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge Detroit! The Knight Arts Challenge funds the best ideas for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts.
You can QUADRUPLE your donation to the American Riad May 15-June 30 through the Public Spaces Community Places program- with Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Patronicity. Support now by donating here or sharing on social media. Any amount helps and spreading the word is just as impactful: http://patronicity.com/detroit
In 2017, the Moroccan think tank came to Detroit to advise us on how to convert the site into a Riad, and give classes on wood carving, resulting in the below 15ft wide Mahogany carving with bone inlay which will be installed on the front of an adjacent building. This Arabic character "Iqra" means "to read" or "to learn."
We also built a 20 ft high aluminum
prototype 'umbrella' vault during a
residency with Williams College Museum of Art. We are now working with Detroit fabricators to set up a digital fabrication training program to produce future vaults.
Below, Moroccan think tank members in front of prototype.
Another prototype was developed during a residency at the Mitchell Center for the Arts. It was manufactured in Detroit and mounted on the back of a trailer. Local Muslim groups utilized the space as a 'Mobile Mosque,' hosting prayer, performances, art workshops, and cross-cultural dialogue. We will have similar activies in Detroit.
We are re-building this corner through art & culture, in a multi-year project of skillshares and public art, to create a Moroccan-style Riad (a central, shared courtyard, filled with art and gardens). So far, in addition to Detroit, this has involved related activities in New York, Houston, Massachusetts, Marrakesh, and Yogyakarta. Click the images below to learn more about some of the activities taking place!