Urban Artscape

For the past decade, artists and others in the creative class have been migrating to Detroit.
By Jenn McKee, ’93

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Detroit is experiencing an artistic renaissance. For the past decade, artists and others in the creative class have been migrating to Detroit in droves, lured by affordable housing, empty warehouses, and a community where collaboration and experimentation abound.

Many U-M graduates are contributing to this urban arts scene, adding an urgency, energy, and diversity to the mix. By looking at the city through different lenses, they are providing new perspectives on Detroit in every medium imaginable.

Video artist Oren Goldenberg, ’05, is the founder of Cass Corridor Films and the producer of performance installations, documentaries, and a satirical web series called “Detroit (Blank) City.”

Damien Crutcher, MMUS’96, is the co-founder and CEO of Crescendo Detroit, a nonprofit arts program that teaches instrumental music, vocals, and dance to inner-city kids.

Brendan Asante, ’14, is a Ghanaian vocalist, musician, producer, and educator known simply as Asante—he is also the co-founder of the audiovisual collective Video7.

Kyle Huntoon, ’07, is following a family legacy in woodworking with Hunt & Noyer, an original line of furniture that he both designs and handcrafts.

Printmaker Lyz Luidens, ’13, is a founding member of Riopelle, a collective art studio, and is currently working on a citywide printmaking project where Detroiters contribute memory maps.

Photo courtesy of The Public Theater

Playwright Dominique Morisseau, ’00, has not only immortalized her native city with her three-play series, “The Detroit Projects,” she also has received critical acclaim.

Ben Willis, MMUS’14, is a bassist and composer who collaborates with other experimental artists and has performed at Strange Beautiful Music, a three-day festival in Detroit.

Vocalist Alex Koi, ’15, explores a broad range of singing styles: jazz, industrial, operatic, punk, and avant-garde. She has performed all over Detroit, including at the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Jenn McKee, ’93, worked for more than a decade as a staff arts reporter for The Ann Arbor News. She is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications.

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