I completed this mural in Detroit in 2015. The street art scene in Detroit is certainly playing an interesting role in the resurgence of the city but at the same time I feel that there have been some disturbing trends in the art form.
Firstly, Street Art and Graffiti art are tied to one another, the history of the medium comes from its roots in civil disobedience and its ability to communicate with the common man. This form of communication was not just meant to establish self identity, like tag art/vandalism, it was used as a method to communicate issues that were effecting the people living in different areas.
I feel like the trend that I see gaining traction in Detroit is that graffiti is being replaced more and more by Street Art, which to me is a transparent move to elevate graffiti into a commoditized art form.
What this has done, is that it has allowed the art form of graffiti to transcend the culture boundaries and reach a broader audience. Art the same time I feel like the art form is loosing much of its potency as a means of communication. What I have seen here in Detroit is that there a loads of murals popping up into areas in East Market and Corktown, which in the last year, have seen an increase in housing and property costs.
Now my theory is that street artist has had a renaissance in Detroit because there are plenty of buildings in the city that are abandoned and the police could care less about some lovely free street art going up over a defunct property. Also artists are coming to Detroit to contribute to the art and culture of the city because it has the real potential of helping the city get back on its feet.
However, I am seeing the most "arted-up" areas of Detroit becoming gentrified by the "hipness." Very distinctly this is the opposite purpose of what graffiti art used to do to an area. In a way street art is being used to attract attention to an area, which brings in investors. This in turn causes the area to become more expensive, eventually pricing out the artists that created the murals in the first place.
I hope that this doesn't happen to Detroit. It seems to be one of the last cities left that can support the ecosystem of art and business. I truly hope that they don't repeat the mistakes of the past and end up excluding the artists that make this city great.