Arts and Culture

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.

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Skill-shares

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.

Housing Justice

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.

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Learning about Riads

Morocco and Detroit

This year, 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."

Bone inlay
Prototype vault

Fabrication Training

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.

Morocco ThinkTank
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Art Programming

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.

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American Riad and related activities

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!

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Vision for the courtyard

The final courtyard will use sophisticated technology to create soaring and intricately cut metal sculptures that form a Moroccan-style Riad in Detroit’s North End. The riad will be delineated by a series of 20ft-high stainless steel sculpture “umbrellas” cut with intricate Islamic patterns. Imagine arabesques colliding and merging with Detroit brick, dappled light from delicate patterns falling across a meticulously designed courtyard, filled with art by local artists. A central gathering spot for neighbors who can hold events/gatherings there. A physical, artistic representation of community/inclusion.

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Poetry and Spoken Word Performance

Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition and Detroit Poetry Society

Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition and Detroit Poetry Society hosted a wonderful evening of performance, dance, and pizza baked fresh in our Detroit-brick oven!

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Theater of the Oppressed

Over the past 2 years, we have been working with Alt Space Detroit to offer a series of "Theater of the Oppressed" workshops on site and at nearby Affirming Love Ministries Church. This program invites audience-members and passers-by into the performance as a way to discuss and problem-solve local issues.
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Block Party/ Community Cookout

Amidst the art-making, workshops, performances, and hard work, we've been holding a variety of community gatherings at the Riad site to strengthen ties and spark new connections and ideas.
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Water filtration workshop

Rainwater catchment and DIY filters
Over some brisk March days, Engineers from the Indonesian Think Tank ran a series of water collection and filtration workshops at the American Riad, building a 600 gallon rainwater catchment system and a 3 stage filter using locally available materials.
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Bismillah Block Party with illMuslims

In April of 2017, a portion of the American Riad travelled to Houston to become the "Mobile Mosque" as part of the Counter Current 17 festival in Houston, Texas, exploring diverse programming within the Muslim American experience. Programs included dance, art, poetry, yoga, cross-cultural dialogues and - of course - prayer. Funding for construction of this section of the Riad and all programming was part of the INTERSECTIONS initiative, made possible in part by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
(photo credit: dabPhoto creative)
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Mobile Mosque

with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts
In April of 2017, a portion of the American Riad travelled to Houston to become the "Mobile Mosque" as part of the Counter Current 17 festival in Houston, Texas, exploring diverse programming within the Muslim American experience. Programs included dance, art, poetry, yoga, cross-cultural dialogues and - of course - prayer. Funding for construction of this section of the Riad and all programming was part of the INTERSECTIONS initiative, made possible in part by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
(photo credit: dabPhoto creative)
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Pyrography and Islamic Art Workshop

with Samar Babar/ Palette of Style
In April of 2017, a portion of the American Riad travelled to Houston to become the "Mobile Mosque" as part of the Counter Current 17 festival in Houston, Texas, exploring diverse programming within the Muslim American experience. Programs included dance, art, poetry, yoga, cross-cultural dialogues and - of course - prayer. Funding for construction of this section of the Riad and all programming was part of the INTERSECTIONS initiative, made possible in part by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
(photo credit: dabPhoto creative)
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Residency with Williance College Museum of Art

Through a year-long residency at Williams College Museum of Art, we were able to produce the first full-scale prototype vault, a 20-foot high alumunimum structure that became the first permanent component of the American Riad in Detroit. Also through this residency, Think Tanks from Morocco and Indonesia were able to visit the United States, advising on Islamic Architecture and offering workshops in woodworking, rainwater catchment, and DIY water filtration in Detroit.

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Indonesian and Moroccan Think Tanks

with Williams College

Think Tanks from Indonesia and Morocco joined students from Williams College to work with North End Residents on the American Riad project.

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Arabic artwork installed in the Gable

by Mehdi Ghinati

When Moroccan Think Tank member Mehdi Ghinati worked at the American Riad during a residency in Spring of 2017, he inlaid Arabic Calligraphy in Mahogany and Bone to create a beautiful piece of art we installed as the gable at the American Riad project. Iqrah means "Read, Learn, Proclaim," and is the first word in the Quran.

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Arabic artwork installed in the Gable

by Mehdi Ghinati

When Moroccan Think Tank member Mehdi Ghinati worked at the American Riad during a residency in Spring of 2017, he inlaid Arabic Calligraphy in Mahogany and Bone to create a beautiful piece of art we installed as the gable at the American Riad project. Iqrah means "Read, Learn, Proclaim," and is the first word in the Quran.

Detroit American Riad Site

The American Riad is being built in the North End of Detroit on historic Oakland Avenue. We hope to have it complete by the summer of 2019. Stop by in the meantime to meet the artists, and take part in workshops and public art events!

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