Lincoln Street Art Park: ‘Teaching Reuse Through Art’

I visited the Lincoln Street Art Park south of New Center in Detroit a few times in the last week (as I researched it, I kept realizing I must’ve missed certain things, so I went back). It’s a sculptural and graffiti-style art park at a formerly abandoned industrial site, and it has been open since 2011. According to the park’s Facebook page, it’s “a program of Green Living Science, meant to inspire, bring joy and creativity. Our mantra is if you build it they will come, if they build it they will stay.”

A highlight of the park is “Fisher Canyon,” an alleyway between two elevated (and active) railroad tracks that volunteers cleaned out, revealing historic paving bricks, and then made into an art space. It’s named Fisher Canyon because of its views of the Fisher building, the Art Deco skyscraper and landmark designed by Albert Kahn and Joseph Nathaniel French.

The park reuses structures and spaces that would otherwise have been considered “blight,” turning them into canvases for local artists. It also creates a community space that brings together residents from the surrounding communities. There are concerts and cultural events there throughout the year, including a summer camp that offers a variety of art workshops (murals, stenciling, papermaking) for local youth. On one of my visits, employees from the nearby factories and businesses were walking over to the park to enjoy their lunch.

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