ArtsCorpsDetroit, WSU benefit city's art programs

September 25, 2017

ArtsCorpsDetroit (ACD) volunteers are leaving their artistic footprint throughout the city thanks to Wayne State University and various community organizations.

ACD and its volunteers collaborate with community organizations on projects that benefit the organization and its members while adding to the aesthetic beauty of the community. All projects are led by a Wayne State student, staff, faculty or alumni or by a local artist who is experienced in working with the community. 

ACD resides within Wayne State’s James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History under the leadership of Joan Verla, but it is a collaborative program of the Art Education-Art Therapy programs in the College of Education and the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. ACD provides the structure for students and alumni and others to lend a hand to local community art programs when needed,” said Holly Fein-Calligan, ACD research component director, associate professor and art therapy coordinator in the College of Education.

Depending upon the nature of the project, artwork may be exhibited at the organization or a participating location in the community. Businesses located in Detroit, organizations and community groups can submit proposals to ACD for arts-based projects.

Wayne State offers students a variety of credit-generating, service-learning courses that combine classroom experience with community-based learning. ACD volunteers have the opportunity to be a part of a community, to meet a diverse range of people, and to develop new skills, interests, and hobbies.

“Volunteering with ArtsCorpsDetroit has made me feel united with the Detroit community,” said Corryn Jackson, ACD volunteer and Wayne State University Art Therapy Program graduate student. “Engaging with local youth on art and garden projects this past summer allowed me to witness and be a part of the pride and dedication to enhancing parts of the city.”

During the spring and summer of 2017, ArtsCorpsDetroit and its volunteers responded to a broad range of community requests to enhance the art and culture appearance throughout Detroit, including the following projects:

  • “Redefining the Good Life” – Community Mural with Joel Bergner

This community mural project was sponsored by Park Inn by Radisson hotels, a Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group brand, with local support by ACD. As a part of the hotel’s ‘Adding Color to Lives’ community outreach program, award-winning muralist Joel Bergner set up a work space at Cobo Center in conjunction with the 2017 Sustainable Brands conference. ACD worked with the hotel group to promote the project to the community and to provide WSU students with an opportunity to work as mentors and volunteers. "Redefining the Good Life" was permanently installed in Shed 5 at the Eastern Market in Detroit.

  • Jefferson Chalmers Youth Connection Community Mural

The Jefferson Chalmers Youth Connection (JCYC), which meets at Hope Community Outreach and Development, is actively involved in the community improvement efforts of its neighborhood. In 2016, the youth wanted to begin a green alleyway project that included a mural. Detroit artist and Wayne State graduate student in painting Ryan Brady Herberholz took the lead in this ACD project. Herberholz met with the JCYC who put forth their ideas for a mural which paid homage to the history of their Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. This summer, the JCYC, members of the Jefferson Chalmers community and ACD volunteers came together to paint the mural which was envisioned by the youth.

  • Connecting Kids with Nature

Corryn Jackson, Dana Seguin and Allison Hill, WSU graduate students in the art therapy program and members of Students of the Michigan Art Therapy Association, led a series of ACD after-school and summer workshops for Detroit Community Nature Center (DCNC) at Carsten Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. The theme of each workshop was "Connecting Kids with Nature." The students created artworks using leaves, sticks and other nature items. Working with local youth and DCNC, Jackson and Seguin also led a mural project at the Lenox Center in Detroit. The duo created a design that tied into DCNC's summer theme, "Connecting Kids with Nature." The mural was painted on the boarded windows of the Lenox Center, which is the future home of DCNC.

  • Detroit Community Nature Center Photo Project

ArtsCorpsDetroit helped to realize a project designed by Siobhan Gregory for DCNC at the Lenox Center. Gregory is a senior lecturer in industrial design at WSU, and member of the Jefferson Chalmers community. Photos of neighbors enjoying AB Ford Park, where the center is located, were enlarged and wheat pasted to the boarded windows, adding the spirit of the community to the building.

  • Crash Detroit 2017

This summer, ACD took part in Crash Detroit 2017 by providing a DYI craft instruments area for children and families. At three times throughout the day-long event, the children paraded as the Youth Crash Corps and showcased the instruments that they made. Crash Detroit is a free festival that invites street bands from around the country to perform at businesses and in underused spaces throughout the city of Detroit, co-produced by WSU Professor Lauren Kalman.

In addition, a garden, a sculpture installation, a mosaic cinder block herb wall and benches were created at Mack Alive and Small Ville Learning Farms on Detroit’s east side.

For further information about ArtsCorpsDetroit, visit, and Facebook