Move The World: Meet Artist, Ricky Weaver

Ricky Weaver is an image-based artist from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her practice employs what she calls “The quantum ontology of images” as portals to elsewhere. She explores the idea of alternative modes of existence through themes of magical realism, the archive of the everyday, and dark sousveillance.

Weaver has participated in the Applebaum fellowship and Carr Center Independent Fellowship where she began her relationship with friend and mentor, Carrie Mae Weems. She has exhibited work in the 13th Annual Havana Biennale, Photographic Center Northwest, Page Bond Gallery, and more. She received her BFA in Photography from Eastern Michigan University in 2014 and an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2018. She has since worked as Part-time faculty in the photography departments at Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College.

“I Watched Their Eyes Were Watching God So Many Times I Burned a Hole in the DVD” 2018. Archival pigment print. 24 x 36 in.

This work renders moments when black women’s cultural and spiritual practices of community and care provide breadth and substance for creating spaces of leverage. These images locate a specific vernacular of facial expression and body language that can be traced back to the Middle Passage. This vernacular disrupts the problematic ways of archiving blackness and outsmarts surveillance technologies as such. The life that these images begin to imagine exists in a reality outside the constraints of social and political constructs.



Move The World: Meet Artist, Damien Mathis

“Black women factor prominently in my work, as heroines, mythical beings, and sources of inspiration. I feel women are harmonious. They have seductively brilliant figures and are often sought out for their presence. There is an inherent artistry in the female form that easily offers itself to a composition. The style of framing that characterizes much of my work involves the idea of something being bigger than the frame that surrounds it – unable to be boxed, caged, or limited – giving thought to infinite questioning and expression.

Most artists tell stories, depict truth or thought; some record history. Since our Black history is scarce and spread thin, at least in the art world, I can catalog and record historical artists through colorful portraiture, infusing a touch of their work for personality. I studied Ms. Alma Thomas in college along with other great artists that paved the way for emerging artists, working to push the boundaries of artistry, like myself.”

Alma, 2020. Acrylic, mixed media on wood. 3 x 9 ft

During the 1960s,  Alma Thomas emerged as an exuberant colorist, abstracting shapes and patterns from the trees and flowers around her. As a Black woman artist, she encountered many barriers, yet she did not express racial or feminist issues in her work, believing rather that the creative spirit is independent of race or gender.

In Washington, D.C., where she lived and worked, Thomas became identified with Morris Louis, Gene Davis, and other Color Field painters active in the area since the 1950s. Like them, she explored the power of color and form in luminous, contemplative paintings. I can only repay Ms. Thomas, et al., back in living color and creation.

Painter and sculptor, Damien Mathis, is a Fayetteville, North Carolina native and resident, and an avid Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club member. A Marine Corp Combat veteran, Mathis served two tours in Afghanistan with 1/6 Bravo Infantry Battalion before earning a Bachelor’s in Visual Arts from HBCU, Fayetteville State University.  Mathis recalls drawing as a child even before he learned to write, but only began painting eight years ago, in his early twenties. His art has since been collected and exhibited throughout the U.S., including the Art Council of Fayetteville, the Harlem Fine Arts Show, Fayetteville University, and A&T.


Move The World: Meet Artist, Dawn Okoro

Dawn Okoro’s work is informed by the composition techniques used in fashion photography. Using oil, acrylic, and pencil, she incorporates photography, collage, and ideas from punk and popular culture. Her artwork embodies space, movement, pattern, design, texture, and color; as well as lived experiences and self-reflexivity – a process by which she critically examines the experiences (exterior and interior) that shape her everyday life and those that surround her. With an emphasis on the African American woman, Okoro’s work highlights the energy, creativity and sometimes, preoccupations, of urban culture.

Nigerian American artist Dawn Okoro lives and works in Austin, Texas. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, and her law degree from Texas Southern University. Her desire to become an artist spawned from her love of fashion illustration, photography, and design. Okoro’s work has been featured in Forbes, Architectural Digest, Hyperallergic, Drawing Magazine, and The Austin Chronicle. She has exhibited at the Texas Biennial, New York University, Notre Dame University, Rice University Museum, George Washington Carver Museum, and MoCADA Museum in Brooklyn.


NEXT UP: “Move The World” an exhibition spanning Black and Women’s History Month

The Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery presents MOVE THE WORLD, an exhibition bridging Black History and Women’s Month and celebrating “the extraordinary lives of ordinary Sisters and Queens. ” The exhibition has been inspired by the recent political contributions of  women of color in politics,. historic professional firsts for African American women, and the everyday heroinism of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and friends. Opening Saturday, February 13, 2021 and running through the end of March, it highlights the  work  of  local and visiting artists –  Ricky Weaver, Dawn Okoro, Laura Gadson, Jonathan Harris, Jide Ade, Damien Mathis, Donn Thompson, and BAI –and introduces Poet Laureate, Brittini Ward, who will design and perform spoken word compositions dedicated to the theme.

MOVE THE WORLD also provides a rare glimpse of a painting by the late and endlessly talented dancer, choreographer and actor, Geoffrey Holder in celebration of the female form.
Due to COVID safety measures, there will be no receptions or in-person gatherings in association with the exhibit, however, the gallery is open to the public and offering auxiliary features and programs including an interactive message wall  in collaboration with @youwannatellher by Yasmine Lancaster (an Instagram page dedicated to raising the spirits and profiles  of Black women); A Valentine’s Day art give-away for all visitors to the gallery on Sunday, February 14thvirtual explorations with participating artists; and virtual educational programming for school-aged children.  Visitors to the space will also enjoy a 201 song, 14 hour soundtrack, curated especially for the exhibit by art historian and collector, Carl McCaskill.

“You saw it. We all saw it. Black women summoned all their superpower forces to deliver democracy in Georgia, and for all the U.S. This is just one critical example of how ordinary sisters and queens show up for each other, and for everyone in their cyphers. Stacey, Nsé, Helen, Tamieka, Melanie, Latosha and Deborah were ordinary girls and women…until they weren’t. These women, and so many others like them, remind us of the poise, power, and determination that lies within us all…. The Black Woman has been extraordinary from the start, yet she has borne and survived the brunt of Black trauma. So, whether she knows, exudes, or expresses it or not, and no matter her station in life, she is a Queen – to honor, behold, and protect.”

             –  Excerpt from the MOVE THE WORLD Exhibition Statement

MOVE THE WORLD opens Saturday, February 13, 2021 from 11am – 6pm. General hours of operation are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm and by appointment Tues – Thurs through March 28, 2021. The following safety precautions are being taken:  Only six persons are allowed in the gallery at a time; masks must be worn at all times; sanitizing station and temperatures taken at the door. For an appointment, private tour, or any other inquiries contact Gallery Director, Misha McGlown at 313.932.7690 or 347.339.9812 (cell).

MOVE THE WORLD and its programs have been supported in part by Founder’s Brewing Company and NASP Detroit (National Association of Securities Professionals).

Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery, 2351 W. Grand Blvd. (between LaSalle & Linwood), Detroit, MI 48208 |  FB + IG: @irwinhousegallery | View the Facebook invitation HERE.

Event hashtags: #sistersandqueens   #movetheworld

THANK YOU & HAPPY 21 from the IHG!!!

THANK YOU to all who came out to enjoy and support the “Gift of Art” exhibition! We are ecstatic to announce that — since the show’s opening on Black Friday — we have put more than two-dozen original works of art in the hands and homes of new and seasoned art collectors throughout Detroit, and across the country!

Hooray for all the artists, for the happy collectors (a few pictured below), for us, and for THE POWER OF ART!

If you haven’t had a chance to see the show OR would like a last peek, please stop by this weekend and enjoy a Glogg toast with us to welcome in the new year!

Hours are Saturday and Sunday, January 2-3 from 10am-6pm. (We are closed Friday, New Year’s Day.)

As always, we will be keeping everyone safe in the name of art: Practicing social-distancing, sanitizing, and taking temps at the door. We hope you can stop by!

Happy collectors with new art by Judy Bowman (top), Ellen Kennary Doyle (middle) and Cameron Jenkins (bottom).


“Gift of Art”: SHOP THE SHOW with Maliek Phillips

We’re working hard to keep our space safe and socially-distanced during the Gift of Art Exhibition, and we are grateful to everyone who’s come out, supported the artists and INDEED given the gift of art. For those of you who cannot make it – or simply want a closer look – we’ve brought you the entire show on line. Meet dynamic Detroit artist Maliek Phillips. We are proud to feature his art and gracious spirit in the show:

IG: @liekfeel
SOLD!!! — Maliek “AJ” Phillips. Light I, 2020. 8″ x 10″  Mixed media on paper. $100

Maliek Phillips is from the west side of Detroit and attended Renaissance High School, where he excelled in academics and sports. In 2014, he began his creative expression in music. He began recording on a cellphone and developed a form of expression he now describes as “Feelism – expression, mostly pertaining to art that conveys a temporary moment of awe or amazement.” Today, he is a self described creative. He’s used his venture into music and found wholesome love for media arts, as well as art in general. Maliek has since written and illustrated a children’s book, Rashad is Sad for a Reason (2018) and starred in a short drama, On the Count of Three (2018). His Original Feelism paintings and mixed-media visual artworks have been beloved, exhibited, and collected throughout Detroit, including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American Art.
SOLD!!! — Maliek “AJ” Phillips. Light II, 2020. 8″ x 10″  Mixed media on paper. $100

Maliek “AJ” Phillips. Dark I, 2020. 8″ x 10″  Mixed media on paper. $100

SOLD!!! — Maliek “AJ” Phillips. Dark II, 2020. 8″ x 10″  Mixed media on paper. $100

Contact Irwin House Gallery to inquire about or purchase any of these works of art: 313.932.7690 or

“Gift of Art”: SHOP THE SHOW with Mary Morekas

Here we go, being all global again and inviting out-of-town artists to exhibit with our favorite Detroiters! Well, that happens to be part of our mission, so we were ecstatic when Mary Morekas agreed to exhibit in our Gift of Art Show and four of her fabulous paintings showed up in the mail. Believe us when we tell you, this is a rare glimpse for us all! View, enjoy, and shop Mary’s art below…..


SOLD!!! — Mary Morekas. Because cats do what they want, 2020. 9″ x 12″  Oil on canvas. $225

Art is second nature for Mary Morekas. It is her unique way of looking at the world that shines through in her paintings, and shoots straight to the hearts of viewers. Mary paints what she sees — chance encounters with all God’s creatures and the people who impact her everyday life. These are the things that serve as inspiration for the artist, every moment of every single day. There is no other motivation behind her work, except to be in joy and to share and spread joy with those who encounter her art. A native of Maryland, Mary studied art in high school and graduated from Drexel University in 2019 with a Degree in Engineering. She currently lives and works as an Engineer in Philadelphia, enjoys her friends and family and — despite her demanding job — clocks countless hours of art exploration and painting.

Mary Morekas. Golden Hour Rose, 2020. 12″ x 12″  Oil on canvas. $275

SOLD!!! — Mary Morekas. I Got This, 2020. 8″ x 8″  Oil on canvas. $195

Mary Morekas. TV with a Friend, 2020. 8″ x 10″  Oil on canvas. $195

Contact Irwin House Gallery to inquire about or purchase any of these works of art: 313.932.7690 or

“Gift of Art”: SHOP THE SHOW with Esé Alexis

As a “Global Art Center,” we are focused on Detroit talent but also welcome artists from around the country and the world to experience and contribute to the cultural wealth of our great city. The Gift of Art Exhibition includes two such artists, who are visiting us and making an impact with their art. Meet Esé Alexis, whose art we are proud to represent in this show! Visit us to view the work in person or enjoy it and shop below….

IG: @ese_alexis_art

Esé Alexis. End in the City, 2020. 18″ x 24″  Acrylic and oil on canvas, framed. $400

Born and raised in New York City, Esé Alexis has deep Detroit family roots. He was Artist-in-Residence at Irwin House Gallery during the month of September 2020, where he developed new work, participated in and was instrumental in preparing the JUSTICE PEACE + LOVE outdoor banner exhibition.

Esé  has enjoyed drawing and comic book illustrating from an early age and has taken on professional work and commissions since middle school. He attended the High School of Graphic Communication Arts and honed his skills at The Arts Students League of New York as well as The Children’s Art Carnival. In recent years, he has focused on landscape drawings, in which he captures New York neighborhoods rendered entirely in oil pastels. Works from this series have been shown in group exhibitions at galleries and cultural institutions throughout New York.

Esé’s most current body of work includes pastel drawings and mixed-media paintings, addressing and challenging histories and mythologies, and exposing the undercurrents of life. Ese’s art appears in private collections in New York, Washington D.C., Detroit, MI  and Seattle, WA. He has also been commissioned for his illustrations by private clients and the Black Star News.

Esé Alexis. The Voyage, 2020. 18″ x 24″  Acrylic and oil on canvas, framed. $400

Contact Irwin House Gallery to inquire about or purchase any of these works of art: 313.932.7690 or

“Gift of Art”: SHOP THE SHOW with Tawd B. Dorenfeld

The Gift of Art Exhibition has exemplified the breadth of talent that we have here in Detroit. From painters, to photographers, mixed-media artists, and sculptors and arts activists, like Tawd b. Dorenfeld (below), Detroit has it all! These pieces are essentially artifacts from a one-man campaign, led by the artist just a short time ago. They are a piece of history that we all made together. Learn about and support Mr. Dorenfeld’s work below…..

IG: @tawdbdorenfeld

 Tawd b. Dorenfeld. Vote-Bot #32/40, 2020. Mixed media, wood. $250


Tawd b. Dorenfeld is a storyteller at heart. He has used a multitude of media to tell his tales. He’s created a number of Feature Films, most notably The Anna Cabrini Chronicles scored by Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle & the Stop Motion Animated feature The Stories of the Baal Shem Tov.

Along with his filmmaking he made a number of music videos for the likes of Serj Tankian (System of a Down), George Clinton, Zap Mama & Erykah Badu, Norwood Fisher (Fishbone), and The Offspring. Dorenfeld is known as a master of the Stop Motion & Hand animated arts, but none of this prevents him from making other forms of art. Currently you are looking at his series of Vote-Bots. These wooden, hand-crafted little voices were made specifically to help Detroit get out the vote in the 2020 election and remove the most divisive president we have ever had in our lifetime. Designed to captivate, humor, inspire and urge, the bots were strategically (and sometimes secretly) installed at nearly 30 outdoor sites throughout the city. We prevailed, but the sentiment still stands: VOTE. One thing this election cycle has taught us is that democracy is fragile.

Dorenfeld moved to Detroit in 2018 and has no plans on ever leaving the most beautiful city in the world. Here in Detroit, Dorenfeld spends most of his time running his artists on the autism spectrum company Tink Tank Animate LLC where he and others mentor and produce these unique artists in the Arts of Storytelling. These amazing artists create books, animations, short films, long form films, music, and audio-dramas.

Please visit if you know someone on the spectrum that would benefit from the Tink Tank Animate program created, designed, and founded by Tawd b. Dorenfeld.

Tawd b. Dorenfeld. Vote-Bot #33/40, 2020. Mixed media, wood. $250

Tawd b. Dorenfeld. Vote-Bot #23/40, 2020. Mixed media, wood. $250

Tawd b. Dorenfeld. Vote-Bot #01 BIDEN/HARRIS 4/40, 2020.  Mixed media, wood. $250

Tawd b. Dorenfeld. Vote-Bot #35 BIDEN 4/40, 2020. Mixed media, wood. $500


Tawd b. Dorenfeld’s Vote-Bot was a whimisical and inspiring addition to our JUSTICE PEACE + LOVE Banner Exhibit and GOTV Event earlier this Fall. We were fortunate to get one of the many that made appearances around the city!

Contact Irwin House Gallery to inquire about or purchase any of these works of art: 313.932.7690 or

“Gift of Art”: SHOP THE SHOW with Jeni Wheeler

We are so proud to be able to present the works of SO MANY talent Detroit area artists and creative friends. This includes, Jeni Wheeler, a neighbor and WSU student whose compelling work appears below. Come see Jeni’s art in the Gift of Art Exhibition or simply view and shop right here and now!

IG: @jeniwheelerart

“Art heals and reveals, things about our selves, our society and our history. My work tries to bridge these concepts and inspire people to ask themselves questions about the human experience and assumptions we make. My fascination with how people see the world is both literal and metaphoric. If one person ever walks away form my work and is inspired to see themselves, others differently, then I have succeeded as an artist.” — Jeni Wheeler

Jeni Wheeler. Detroit Queen of Blues, 2019. 24″ x 36″ Mixed media: Acrylic, watercolor, ink on paper, framed. $300
“This piece is a portrait of Detroit’s own, Thornetta Davis – the multi-talented Blues songstress who has graced and dominated stages throughout Michigan for more than fifteen years. Originally created for a show celebrating blues music, the reference photo was taken by photographer Jim Aho. Thornetta’s sultry voice and kinetic energy really helped to inform this piece while I was creating it.”

SOLD!!! —Jeni Wheeler. Saylem in Pastel, 2019. 16″ x 20″ Oil pastel on paper. $350

“Saylem in Pastel is a pastel portrait of my Art Daughter, Saylem — An amazing soul whom I met at Wayne State University and a familyship was truly born. Saylem, whose knowledge and passion for Detroit is truly inspiring, appears as part of my Everyday Goddess series. This goal of the series is to inspire people to see the divinity and value in each other, especially as we work toward building a world free of prejudice.”
Contact Irwin House Gallery to inquire about or purchase any of these works of art: 313.932.7690 or