‘Detroit Collects: Selections of African American Art from Private Collections’ at the DIA

“Mom Says I’m Her Sun,” Mario Moore. From the Collection of David and Linda Whitaker.

One of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ newest exhibitions is as much about the art zealots as it is the art itself. “Detroit Collects: Selections of African American Art from Private Collections” opened to the public on Nov. 12.

The name tells much of the story. Curator and head of the General Motors Center for African American Art Valerie Mercer and team have gathered 60 works in diverse media, styles and genres from 19 private Detroit area collections to be displayed at the museum through mid-March.

Visitors are invited to peruse works from the 19th century to present-day by Charles McGee, Alison Saar, Tylonn J. Sawyer and others, while also learning about the history and prevalence of African American art in Detroit, and about the collectors.

Mercer says of the art and the collectors, “I put them on a similar playing field in that I do show portraits of the collectors in the exhibition.” You’ll also find quotes from collectors displayed alongside the pieces. “I want people, especially the African American community, to know who some of these collectors are.” Mercer says she wants to “demystify” the art of collecting art.

Currently open-March 15, 2020 


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