1. CONNECTOR DESTINATIONS BLOG: Experiencing Art in Detroit

    December 8, 2017

    By Eden Baniel

    As a personal fan of impressionism, cubism, and modern art, I have found myself visiting art museums across the country since I was a young girl. Before beginning my undergraduate degree at U-M three and a half years ago, I had never been to Detroit, let alone visited any of the art museums in this region. Little did I know that this city is filled with incredible expressions of art that I had never been able to experience until now. And, man, I was really missing out.

    The first stop I wanted to check off my list was visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts – a museum with one of the largest art collections in the U.S. While there, I fell in love with a post-impressionist piece painted by Vincent Van Gogh. The piece is titled “Self-Portrait with Straw Hat” and it is, in fact, a self-portrait of Van Gogh while he is wearing a straw hat. Van Gogh wasn’t exactly known for his creative titles, but rather his short, thick brushstrokes that are also characteristic of other post-impressionist works. Created in 1887 in the Paris summer heat, this piece remains one of Van Gogh’s most famous self-portraits to date. And as I stood before it, I realized how lucky I was to be in a time and place that allowed me to view one of history’s most celebrated artists’ works.

    But Van Gogh isn’t all that you can see in Detroit. On the contrary, there is so much more art that flourishes within the region’s corners. Take the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, for instance. If like most people, staring at one painting for more than five seconds can seem boring and less meaningful than other activities, MOCAD is the place to go to experience art with a more palpable sense of excitement and engagement. Within MOCAD, you can encounter visual, literary, music, and performing arts with a mission to expand cultural awareness. They use art not only as something to put on the walls and gaze at, but to experience as a social force.

    The one piece of advice I would give before I graduate in this upcoming Spring is to venture out to Detroit more and see the art that is there. At times when it feels like the world doesn’t stop moving, I always find myself looking for ways to slow it down. What I’ve found is that there is nothing quite like art to imposes a sense of stillness in the midst of the commotion of daily life.

    The Connector Destinations Blog is not an official University endorsement, and is based solely on the opinion of the author.