DETROIT: Who are we? Where have we been? Where are we going?

Opening September 20, 2019, DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY is a group exhibition featuring a collection of artworks, objects, and installations that paint a portrait of Detroit – from the past and present, into the foreseeable or imagined future. This may include any representations of Detroit memories, people, places, architecture and landscapes, lifestyles, events, or any things the artist finds to be distinctly Detroit.

John Sims, Interdisciplinary artist, writer and producer

The exhibition also encompasses an interactive oral history project with our first official Artist-In-Resident, John Sims – a Detroit native conceptual artist and writer who will be with us from Sarasota, Florida.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please submit up to 5 images to along with artwork info, bio, and brief artist statement (if you have one available) through August 17, 2019.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thank you!


Who are we now? Where have we been? Where are we going?

With the City of Detroit holding tightly to one end and an auspicious developer grasping the other, the Packard Plant bridge started this year by laying itself to rest in the middle of East Grand Blvd. Despite robust re-imaginings for the fabled Packard campus, perhaps the bridge demonstrates that our affections are no match for constructs that have long outlived their utility. What we believe should and will be can, in an instant, become something else: Heroes become criminals; bustling temples of engagement become piles of rubble leveled to sprawling green acres; city-dwellers and suburbanites switch places, and; a wave of enterprise descends, envelops, intermingles, arouses, and reshapes the city. In the face of our attachments, expectations, and carefully drafted plans, for better and worse, the future of Detroit is writing itself.

What Detroit is and what it was are two very different things. Those of us who have lived the difference find ourselves measuring the distance from there to here, recounting steps, and gazing off into an unfamiliar that may seem clouded for some and crystal clear for others.

With an eye towards what Detroit has been for so many of us – those distinct moments and qualities that define our city – and a vision for its future, the Irwin Gallery presents DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY – an exhibition that invites present, past and foreseeable imagery from local artists and documentarians. The exhibition will also feature our first official Artist-in-Residence, conceptual artist and writer, John Sims, who will build an interactive and oral-history project based on his West-side Detroit childhood street, neighbors, and memories. Sims will reside and work on-site during the exhibition, and integrate developing segments of the project throughout his Residency.

September 20- December 20, 2019
Opening Reception: TBD

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