Going the Distance

t a young age, Detroit native Jocelyn Rainey’s family and teachers encouraged and nurtured her creativity, inspiring her to become an artist, her trade for more than 15 years.

Her work has been exhibited in galleries across the nation, such as the Jackson Fine Art, the Danny Simmons Corridor Gallery and the Black Fine Arts Festival, as well as the University of Michigan Art and Design Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Rainey also established her own gallery, located at 1440 Gratiot Rd., in Detroit.

“The work of Detroit artists transforms the city by giving us a deeper understanding of the aesthetics of art and education,” she says.

Rainey, who also teaches art and art history, has translated that philosophy into Finding Mona Lisa: Urban Students Become Global Scholars, a program where she and local high school students travel internationally to gain insight on the artwork they study, as well as, a new perspective on their own lives. 


“We want to change their minds about some of the things they’re doing,” she says. “We want them to see something else and it makes them better people to know that everybody’s not living a certain way.”

Through the program, students are taught languages, cultural aspects, writing and photography. So far, the program has had trips to France, Egypt, Japan, Spain and Costa Rica. This summer, Rainey says the tour is headed for London.

Funding for the program comes from the combined efforts of Rainey, the students and the community. For example, Rainey says her mailman gave her $20 for the program’s first trip nearly five years ago. “It comes like that,” she says. “People are just so happy for these students to experience something different, to see something different.”

While the program has led to lifestyle changes in most students, Rainey says to maintain it, they must have support from the people around them.

“We plant a seed,” she says. “But we, as a community, have to nurture it. The kids that we count out are the students that need somebody to look out for them to show them that they’re worthy of certain things.”

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