January 21, 2020 (Detroit)—The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) announces an exciting slate of Black History Month events for all ages. The DIA kicks off the festivities on Friday, January 31 with a Chicago Steppin’ dance party featuring lessons, old school soul, jazz and R&B and a cash bar. Throughout the month, the DIA will focus on the Center of African American Art, the first permanent collection of galleries devoted to African American Art at an encyclopedic art museum in the U.S., with tours and spoken word readings in the galleries, drop-in workshops in the studio, films, music and more. Wrapping up the month is a conversation with Ghanaian-American novelist Yaa Gyasi, author of the highly acclaimed debut novel Homegoing and its follow-up, Transcendent Kingdom.

On Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., the DIA’s auxiliary Friends of African and African American Art present the 28th annual Alain Locke International Art Award to abstract artist Ed Clark, who recently passed away at age 93.

Programs are free for residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, unless otherwise noted. Black History Month programs at the DIA are made possible by the generous support of Arn and Nancy Tellem.

“The programs and tours that are part of our Black History Month celebration give our visitors an opportunity to explore history and culture in ways that can’t be found in the internet, books or on television,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA Director. “We are thankful for the continuing support of Arn and Nancy Tellem, which has allowed us to collaborate with community members to develop dynamic and relevant programs that will connect with all residents of our region.”

DIA Center for African American Art

The Center is the first permanent collection of galleries at an encyclopedic art museum in the U.S. devoted to African American art. See works from great American artists such as Benny Andrews, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert S. Duncanson, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Charles McGee, Betye Saar, Henry O. Tanner, Mickalene Thomas and Kehinde Wiley. During the reinstallation of the DIA’s contemporary galleries, some artworks may be temporarily off-view or relocated outside Detroit Collects.

Drawing in the Galleries: Friday, Feb. 8, Noon–4 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 16, Noon–4 p.m.

Gallery Adventures (family-friendly games and guided activities): Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

Tours: Tuesdays–Thursdays, 1 p.m.; Fridays, 1, 6 & 7 p.m.; Saturdays–Sundays, 1 & 3 p.m.

General and family friendly tours with an emphasis on the DIA’s African American art collection.


“Detroit Collects: Selections of African American Art from Private Collections” on view through March 15, 2020


Special Black History Month Drop-in Art-making:

Community Quilt Design Fridays, 1/31 & 2/28, 6–9 p.m., Saturdays 2/1 & 2/28, Noon–4 p.m., Sunday, 2/2, Noon–4 p.m.

Celebrating the long tradition of quilt-making in African American history, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and create a quilt square using a mix of fabric, scissors and glue, then contribute it to a community, visitor-made quilt design

Assemblage Friday, 2/7, 6–9 p.m., Saturday 2/8 & Sunday 2/9, Noon–4 p.m.

The Center for African American Art features mixed media portraits and assemblage work by Betye Saar and Mickalene Thomas. The studio will supply materials for visitors to make their own piece of mixed media art.

Collage Portraits Friday, 2/14, 6–9 p.m., Saturday, 2/15 & Sunday 2/16, Noon–4 p.m.

Visitors will use a mix of paper and cloth to create a portrait of someone important to them or perhaps a self portrait such as Benny Andrews’ Portrait of a Collagist.

Mosaics Friday, 2/21, 6–9 p.m., Saturday 2/22 & Sunday 2/23, Noon–4 p.m.

Quilting Time by Romare Bearden is a mosaic—a picture or decoration made of small pieces of stone, glass or other material. Visitors will make their own using a variety of art-making materials.

Art-making is supported by The Jerry Earles and George Francoeur Art Making Fund and Mona and Richard Alonzo.

Friday, January 31

Friday Night Live! Steppin’ Into Black History Month 6–9:30 p.m. with beginner lessons from 6-7 p.m.

Kicking off the month with a party in Rivera Court with DJ Rod Edwards and the best Chicago-style Steppers in the Midwest.

Thursday, February 6

Thursdays at the Museum: Pop-Up Tour of Detroit Collects: Selections of African American Art from Private Collections 1 p.m.

Friday, February 7

Spoken | The Art of Poetry 6:15, 7:15 & 8:30 p.m.

In collaboration with Citywide Poets, spoken word poets Sherina Sharpe, Michael Sheldon, and Nadine Marshall perform pieces inspired by the works of art they love the most.

Friday Night Live! Sphinx Organization 7 & 8:30 p.m.

Detroit-based Sphinx Organization presents music written and performed by black and LatinX composers and musicians who have overcome challenges facing artists of color in the contemporary classical music world. Enjoy the music of composers Roscoe Mitchell, Tyshawn Sorey, George Lewis and Leroy Jenkins, among others.

Saturday, February 8 & Sunday February 9

Detroit Institute of Awesome! Artist Demonstration: Najma Ma’at Wilson Noon–4 p.m.

Fiber artist, educator and co-founder of Detroit Fiber Works Najma Ma’at Wilson invites everyone to participate in making Stitched Collages, small works of art using basic stitching techniques with needles, thread, and fabrics.

Sunday, February 9

Film: Gone to the Village: Royal Funerary Rites for Asantehemaa Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II 2 p.m.

This beautifully filmed documentary portrays the elaborate funerary rites for the Queen Mother of the Asante in Ghana. Leading Asante scholar Kwasi Ampene directs and narrates with the authority, gaze and sensitivity of a true insider, with stunning footage of the rich cultural traditions of the Asante people.

Thursday, February 13

Thursdays at the Museum: Artist Demonstration: April Shipp 1 p.m.

Fiber artist April Shipp, who specializes in quilts with spiritual, historical and family significance, turns ordinary cotton fabrics into one-of-a-kind decorative fabric vessels using paint, quilting and couching, an embroidery technique used to fasten threads and other material to fabric.

Friday, February 14

Theatrical Readings | A Portrait of Toni Morrison & James Baldwin by The Oliver Pookrum Theater Project 7 p.m.

The Oliver Pookrum Theater Project with NyRee Hardyway and James Abbett performs dramatic readings of A Portrait of Toni Morrison & James Baldwin in celebration of the life and artistry of two American literary masters.

Friday Night Live! Dom Flemons 7 & &:30 p.m.

Singer Dom Flemons pays tribute to the music, culture, and the complex history of the golden era of the Wild West. This century-old story follows the footsteps of the thousands of African American pioneers who helped build the United States of America.

Saturday, February 15 & Sunday, February 16

Detroit Institute of Awesome! Puppet Performance: String Theory Theater 2 p.m.

Baltimore-based puppet troupe String Theory Theater is composed of artist Dirk Joseph and his daughters, telling stories of varied narrative styles with multiple puppetry formats. Their colorful design and wit poke fun at conventions to create amusing and thought-provoking performances.

Thursday, February 20

Thursdays at the Museum: Art-Making: Mosaics 1 p.m.

Friday, February 21

Artist Panel | Artists and Mentorships: The Perfect Imperfect Picture 6 p.m.

Moderator Tylonn Sawyer discusses the mentorships with established, mid-career and emerging artists Hubert Massey, Gil Ashby, RaShaun Rucker, Nivek Monet, Horario Hall and Elaine Cromie.

Friday Night Live! Monica Blaire 7 p.m.

Classically trained Detroit singer and songwriter Monica Blaire developed skills as a writer and choreographer, but hip-hop music is her passion. Rooted in the sound of early soul music and inspired by an unconventional sense of rhythm and melodies, Blaire has worked with such Motown greats as Marcus Belgrave, Sylvia Moy, and Ortheia Barnes and also collaborated with modern-day icons Carl Craig, PAJAM, The J Moss project and Vanessa Williams.

Saturday, February 22 & Sunday, February 23

Detroit Institute of Awesome! Puppet Performance: Jeghetto’s Workshop 2 p.m.

Jeghetto gets lost in his imagination as he creates unique puppets out of recycled materials. This production offers a glimpse into this puppeteer’s process with visual projections, spoken word and hip-hop beats.

Sunday, February 23

28th Annual Alain Locke Awards 2 p.m.

The 2020 recipient of FAAAA’s 28th annual Alain Locke International Art Award is abstract artist Ed Clark who died recently at age 93. His friend and renowned Detroit artist Allie McGhee and Clark’s daughter Melanca Clark will speak about Clark’s art and career. The Alain Locke Recognition Award will be presented to Detroit artist Sydney James for her work as a visual artist and muralist. A reception follows.

Sponsored by Friends of African and African American Art.

Thursday, February 27

Thursdays at the Museum: Film: Bless Their Little Hearts 1 p.m.

Charlie Banks searches for steady work while viewing his chronic unemployment as a spiritual trial, only to find comfort for his wounded pride in an affair that threatens his marriage. This pioneering work of independent African American cinema was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as a national treasure.

Detroit Film Theatre: My Brother’s Wedding 7 p.m.

This funny, heartbreaking and honest family drama from trail-blazing African American director Charles Burnett that presents a richly textured portrait of a young Los Angeles man whose family obligations come into conflict with his still-forming plans for his own future. Also shown: rare short films by Charles Burnett.

Friday, February 28

Spoken | The Art of Poetry 6:15, 7:15 & 8:30 p.m.

In collaboration with Citywide Poets, spoken word poets La Shaun phoenix Moore and Chace Morris perform pieces inspired by the works of art they love the most.

Author Talk: Yaa Gyasi 7 p.m.

Yaa Gyasi, born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, is the author of the highly acclaimed debut novel Homegoing and its follow-up, Transcendent Kingdom. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 2016 “5 Under 35” Award. An illuminating speaker, Gyasi captivates audiences with her sincerity and compassion. Admission is free, but registration is required. Visit dia.org/BlackHistoryMonth to register.

Museum Hours and Admission

9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne county residents and DIA members. For all others, $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for college students, $6 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.