A new initiative from WDET aims to demonstrate the power of art to bridge cultural divides and unite communities.
The Artist Next Door illuminates and celebrates Detroit area artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds and disciplines to enhance awareness and understanding of our communities and cultures. Over the course of the next few months, the project will highlight the work of six Detroit-area artists whose work gives us a greater understanding of their cultural heritage and brings us closer as a region of neighbors.
WDET listeners and the general public nominated the artists and the jury ultimately selected six artist fellows to create an original piece of artwork. The artist’s process and work will be photographed by Detroit Photographer Erik Paul Howard and the artists will be profiled by WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper on CultureShift. Each artist will receive a $1,000 stipend when their piece is completed.
The Artist Next Door is made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Stay in the loop on the artists’ progress and process:
Meet the Artists:
Detroiter Halima Cassells is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, mom, and an avid gardener with deep roots in Waawiiyaataanong/Detroit. Cassells’ work is located at the intersection of interactive installation, visual art, and community building. Cassells draws upon indigenous economy practices to explore notions of value, disposability, freedom and work. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “Fashioning the Free Market.”
Daniel Ross Michelsen
Dearborn resident Daniel Ross Michelsen creates beautiful ceramic pieces in his garage studio with his three-year-old daughter by his side. Daniel has a B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design and the Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy. His family members were farmers, and he focuses his art on the natural elements that the earth provides – wood, clay and sand and bases his artwork on nature and the earth.
Detroiter Timothy Ufuoma Efe Orikri is a Nigerian-born artist whose unique philosophy towards life is reflected in his approach to painting. Through his art workshops, exhibitions and collaborative projects, Timothy Orikri aspires to use his artwork as a means to contribute towards societal change, formulating projects that inspire togetherness, healing, and the beauty of nature.
Highland Park resident Allison Scout Waite’s paintings speak to her non-traditional culture and heritage. Allison says many who identify as LGBTQIA+ are alienated by their blood-related family. In place of severed or strained relationships, they form strong familial friendships with those in the community that support and look out for one another. She wants to create a heritage and culture where LGBTQIA+ are accepted and pass down a history of queerness, in place of a denied culture or heritage. Her work has been shown at the KO Gallery, the Norwest Gallery of Art, and through the 1xRun City Walls initiative in Detroit.
Livonia resident Xiao Dong Wei was born in China and studied at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing from 11 to 21 years old. After relocating to metro Detroit, Xiao has been exposed to various types of music and culture, increasing her awareness of the Chinese culture from different angles and perspectives. In the last few years, she has become passionate about sharing her culture with younger generations. Xiao has been featured on NPR, and as a guest soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Dearborn resident Danya Zituni is an Arab-American illustrator, printmaker, and teaching artist. Her artwork, which showcases the resilience and beauty of her community, has been featured in the FOUND: Love Letters of Muslim Resistance and Community exhibit in 2019 at the PO Box Collective gallery in Chicago, and will be featured in the forthcoming publication ARABORAMA 3 to be published in February 2022 by the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, France. Danya has served as an educator at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, and as a youth instructor for the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.