Friday, July 31, 2015

The Art expressing the Heart of Detroit

During our trip we were blessed with visits to some wonderful art in Detroit.  Our first full day we went on a prayer tour through the city.   In the downtown area there are two great sculptures.
First is "The Spirit of Detroit" a seated figure with both hands lifted up.  In one hand is a family group (families are the heart of Detroit) and in the other hand a globe with rays representing the Spirit of God.  Behind the figure is a quote from the Bible:

It includes the seals of the city and the county. A plaque in front of the sculpture bears the inscription, "The artist expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship."

The statue's message of God and family were bitter sweet considering that Detroit and its neighbor Flint are the #6 & #5 cities with the most single parent households at over 61%.  All around Detroit we saw boarded up churches with broken stained glass.  Please pray for the families and the churches of Detroit.

The Underground Railroad that brought escaped slaves from the South to freedom often ended their journey in Detroit where it was a short trip across the river to Canada.  This statue on the riverside shows slaves who have made their long journey and are about to cross over.  Some are looking back for the families and friends they left behind in bondage.  Most are looking forward to freedom and a new life - but not in America but a whole other country.  Detroit is 80% African American yet racism is still an ongoing problem.  Pray that we might live up to our ideals as Americans being "land of the free" where we believe "all people are created equal".  

8 Mile Road is just at the city limits of Detroit.  There, like all of Detroit, neighborhoods are very divided between the very poor, the not so bad, and the good blocks.  Sometimes these blocks are side by side and yet the division is obvious even to Iowans.  In the 8 mile neighborhood the city actually built a wall between the worse (black) and the better (white) neighbors.  Called the 8 Mile Wailing Wall, it was built in 1940  it is one foot thick, six feet high and at one time was half a mile long.  in 2006 a group of activists and neighbors came together to paint the wall with images of hope and togetherness.   On the "good" side of the wall is a nice park where we ate our lunch and got to play as well as examine the wall.  It was very touching.  

Pray for Detroits neighborhoods, that residents may see each other as true neighbors and care for one another as Jesus tells us.

The Heidelberg Project
On our last day in Detroit we stopped to walk the two city blocks of art created by students and neighbors and artist Tyree Guyton.   Tyree began to create the art in 1986  as a personal war against the deterioration and blight of his neighborhood.   The space is a place for students to learn about and practice art.  The art is all recycled materials and is also political commentary on the struggle of the community and the city, and the country.  We spent time observing the art and discussing what we saw and how it made us feel.  Kiaya said the art reminded her of "Alice in Wonderland" and that was a good comparison.  At first glance the art is fun and bright and happy.  But then you start to see the sadness, anger and frustration behind the colors.  Its an amazing place, read more about it here.
Pray for joy and faith in the people of Detroit, in the midst of the storm.  

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