Archaeologists Dig Up Detroit Museum Site: Here’s What They Found


Pieces of a clay pot. An old medicine bottle.

These random household items, picked from the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) by detectives from Wayne State history, will be turned into works of art.

MOCAD has partnered with the Department of Anthropology at Wayne State University to conduct an excavation of the museum grounds as part of an ongoing art exhibit titled “All the Monsters” by Chicago-born Jan Tichy .

The exhibit is located in Mike Kelley’s “Mobile Homestead”, a life-size replica of Kelley’s 1950s ranch-style home in Detroit. Kelley, who died in 2012, has worked with various media and is considered one of Detroit’s most influential artists. He requested that the rooms on the ground floor of the house be used as a community gallery and gathering space.

Crystal Palmer, youth program coordinator for MOCAD, said the exhibit is inspired by Kelley’s group, Destroy All Monsters, and the fact that “Mobile Homestead” explored themes similar to Tichy’s plays.

“So he did this whole series called ‘Educational Complex’, where he built models, very, very precise models of schools where he had gone from elementary to his university career because the sites were very educational. for his art, career and knowledge, ”said Palmer. “Yet it was also a place where he experienced all forms of trauma. So he kind of weaves these, his own personal narratives into these buildings, these structures, and it’s kind of like a branch of this “educational complex” body.

Kelley’s childhood memories weren’t the only traumas to have taken place on this earth, however. The land where “Mobile Homestead” is located is adjacent to the site of what was once a women’s prison and a place that housed homeless women and children, said Krysta Ryzewski, professor of anthropology at the WSU.

The professor said Tichy wanted to incorporate the country’s history into his play.

“He thought archeology could be a very interesting way to connect with the art that is on display in his part of the farm,” Ryzewski said. “So we thought it might be a way to dig underground and bring up the stories of this property and the people who lived here and used the space and a lot of these people are not known to the history of Detroit. . ”

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The artifacts will be used by MOCAD’s Teen Council to create new pieces, but before that happens, Ryzewski said, WSU’s anthropology department will document them.

By studying these results, a new account of what happened on earth emerges, Ryzewski said.

“We’re literally digging into other stories that have been made inaccessible due to changes to the landscape and to Detroit over time. “

Tichy’s “All Monsters” will be on display until January 23.

For more information, visit the official MOCAD website.


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