This Week on One Detroit:
Preserving Detroit‘s vanished Chinatowns: A journey through 150 years of Chinese American history
Unveiling a tapestry of forgotten tales, the Detroit Historical Museum’s latest exhibit, “Detroit’s Chinatowns,” navigates the 150-year journey of the city’s Chinese community. Assistant Curator Lily Chen and Chief Exhibitions Officer Tracy Irwin have woven together the narrative of a once-thriving but now vanished community in the heart of Detroit. The exhibit, on display in the Community Gallery through January 7, 2024, chronicles the immigrant experience from Ah-Chee’s arrival in 1872 to the vibrant businesses and communal life that characterized the 1970s and 80s.
Visitors can interact with artifacts, photos, videos, and oral histories that vividly recreate the restaurants, laundries, and stores that once flourished there. Attendees can engage with a Chinese mahjong table, mark their family’s roots on a world map, and delve into the Detroit Historical Society’s video collection in a dedicated screening area. The exhibit not only traces the geographical evolution from the original enclave on 3rd Avenue to the relocation in the Cass Corridor, but also delves into the daily lives of immigrant families who built a bustling community.
From church and Chinese school attendance to weekend picnics on Belle Isle, the exhibition captures the rich traditions and challenges faced by Detroit’s Chinese residents. The exhibit serves as a poignant testament to resilience, illuminating overcoming adversity, cherished traditions, and the profound sense of home within Detroit’s Chinatowns. One Detroit contributor Chien-An Yuan talked with Chen and Irwin about how the exhibit connects the Chinese immigrant community to Detroit’s larger history.
20 Contemporary artists create masterful tapestry of Black life at new Cranbrook Art Museum exhibit
In a celebration of Detroit’s diverse artistic heritage, the Cranbrook Art Museum has unveiled a new exhibit, “Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit.” The exhibit, on display at the museum through March 3, 2024, spotlights a community of 20 contemporary artists who have devoted the past decade to redefining the representation of the Black body in art. Rejecting stereotypical depictions, these artists explore the nuanced spectrum of Black life, capturing moments of joy, intimacy, reverie, danger and tension through their unique approaches and inspirations.
“Skilled labor” also takes on new meaning at the exhibit as it poetically refers to these Detroit artists who engage in the process of artmaking. Reflecting a rigorous intellectual process, the exhibition draws a parallel between the artists’ technical prowess and the legacy of generations of skilled Black labor workers who have left an indelible mark on the city of Detroit. Co-curated by Detroit artist Mario Moore, the exhibit not only rethinks art history and culture but also highlights the unique sense of place, community, and networks of support found in Detroit.
One Detroit contributor Sarah Zientarski sat down with artists Ijania Cortez, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Mario Moore and Conrad Egyir to talk about how the exhibit explores the portrayal of the Black body, what the term “skilled labor” means to them, and why it’s important to showcase African American representation in this way. Plus, they share what they each bring to Detroit and delve into the creative process behind their artwork.
Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter exhibits ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Wakanda Forever’ costumes at The Wright Museum
Two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, renowned for her work on iconic films like Black Panther, Malcolm X and Roots, has delved into the artistry of her designs in a new exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The exhibit, “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design,” is on display through March 31, 2024. It showcases the power of storytelling through costume design and honors ancient African cultures through Afrofuturistic pieces.
Carter’s star-studded career spans over three decades in film, television and theater, and her impressive portfolio of seventy credits bears testament to her talent and dedication. Collaborating with directors such as Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, and Ryan Coogler, Carter’s costume designs have helped to shape the narratives of African Americans on the big screen. From “Do The Right Thing” to the groundbreaking “Black Panther” and its sequel, “Wakanda Forever,” her costume design work has cemented her status as an expert on period genres and Afro aesthetics.
Her deep-rooted connection to Afrofuturism, which she defines as the fusion of technology with imagination, self-expression, and entrepreneurship, stands as a cornerstone of Carter’s remarkable career. Her designs bring to life the essence of Afrofuturism, promoting a philosophy that liberates Black Americans, Africans, and Indigenous people from the constraints of slavery and colonialism. Through her exhibit, she showcases her outstanding work but also sheds light on the transcendent impact of representation through costume design in cinema.
One Detroit contributor Stephen Henderson, host of “American Black Journal,” sat down with Carter at The Wright Museum to talk about her illustrious career and her exhibit on display. They discuss how she became interested in sewing and designing, the inspiration behind her costume designs, and becoming the first African American woman to win multiple Academy Awards.
One Detroit Weekend: November 24, 2023
The new year is knocking at the door — how do you plan to celebrate? Whether you’re looking for an all-out party, a fancier black-tie affair, or a rock ‘n’ rolling good time, Detroit has a variety of ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Plus, learn about Kwanzaa through music during an upcoming performance at Aretha’s Jazz Café in Detroit. See what’s coming up around town on “One Detroit Weekend” with Peter Whorf of 90.9 WRCJ.
List of Upcoming Events:
- Join Kalamazoo’s own Greensky Bluegrass for a mix of traditional and contemporary Bluegrass music at The Fillmore Detroit on Dec. 29.
- Learn about Kwanzaa while hearing some of the holiday’s traditionally played music during the In The Tradition: Kwanzaa Celebration at Aretha’s Jazz Café in Detroit on Dec. 30.
- Grab your running shoes and head over to the starting line of Belle Isle’s New Year’s Eve Fun Run, taking place on Dec. 31. The event includes a 1-mile walk, a 3-mile walk and a 3-mile run.
- Ring in the new year at Detroit’s 2024 Resolutions Ball at the Masonic Temple. The New Year’s Eve party features DJs, cirque-style performances and other fun entertainment.
- Countdown the ball drop at Southeast Michigan Omega Foundation Incorporated’s New Year’s Eve Gala at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Dec. 31. The event is a black-tie party.
- Head over to Ferndale Project for its Grateful New Year celebration on Dec. 31. The event will feature freshly brewed beer, appetizers, and a live performance by The Raising Dead.
- Enjoy a seasonal lighted walk around the pond at Heritage Park in Canton during its Holidays in Heritage Park lights show. The holiday lights will be up through Dec. 31 at the park.
- Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the new Cambria Hotel in downtown Detroit during its Countdown to 2024 celebration on Dec. 31. The event offers several amenities and room packages for overnight stays.
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Watch One Detroit every Monday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.