ODM + CCS = Art in The District Detroit

Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) and Ilitch Charities have partnered with the College for Creative Studies to bring student artwork to The District Detroit.

Movement of ChampionsRendering of “Movement of Champions,” a stainless-steel sculpture slated for Little Caesars Arena and designed by CCS student Jonathan Phillips.

The ART IN THE DISTRICT DETROIT program, launched in early 2017, engages students, faculty, community members and professional artists in the design, creation and installation of student-led public art. Ilitch Charities and ODM contributed $800,000 to fund this innovative project at CCS.

To launch the program, selected CCS Fine Arts students began the “Public Sculpture” course in January 2017. Participating students worked with faculty to conduct research, develop designs and physical models and produce documents outlining their design intentions. During the semester-long course, CCS invited visiting artists, community members and architects who have specialized knowledge in creating and designing outdoor sculptures to collaborate with students.

The students received scholarships to be used toward tuition and, at the culmination of the course, a sculpture design created by JONATHAN PHILLIPS (‘19, Fine Arts), “Movement of Champions,” was selected and will be fabricated and installed in front of Little Caesars Arena. The unveiling is slated for Spring/Summer 2018. “We applaud Olympia Development of Michigan and Ilitch Charities for recognizing that public art can be an essential element in defining the character of a neighborhood and for wanting to develop that art through a collaboration among student artists, professional artists and members of the local community,” said Richard L. Rogers, President of the College for Creative Studies. “CCS is excited to be part of The District Detroit project because it presents a unique educational opportunity for our students and is a major contributor to Detroit’s resurgence.”

In Fall 2017, students in the MFA Interaction Design course, “Programming for Designers,” conducted research and began pilot programming to create animated artwork for the Comerica Entry Activation Arch, located within “Via Concourse” – a 61,000 squarefoot public space inside Little Caesars Arena. Visitors passing under the arch, which features a 270-degree LED digital display, will activate an installation of illuminated art and design images and video from across CCS departments and programs, including gaming, digital media, illustration, painting, glassblowing,
sculpture, and graphic and product designs.

To culminate the Fall 2017 semester, teams of Communication Design students at CCS presented visual community identities for the five distinct neighborhoods in The District Detroit: Cass Park Village, Woodward Square, Columbia Street, Wildcat Corner and Columbia Park.

CCS is also engaging the greater community through its Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) and community+public arts:DETROIT (CPAD) programs. CAP coordinated a group of eight students from local high schools to create public art concepts for The District Detroit. Students from Cass Technical High School, Dearborn High School and the College’s  charter school, Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, developed designs for benches, fire hydrants, manhole covers and windows in Summer 2017.

“The District Detroit represents a transformative effort in the heart of our great city, and public art is an important part of our plan,” said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “The College for Creative Studies attracts many of the best, brightest and most talented creative students from around the world, and they are an ideal partner to bring public art to The District Detroit.”