Rosa Parks' Detroit Home Comes Alive in April Exhibit in Berlin
March 16th, 2017, 6:00 AM
Last summer, Berlin artist Ryan Mendoza quietly desconstructed a three-bedroom home at 2672 S. Deacon St. in Southwest Detroit where civil rights icon Rosa Parks once lived. He then shipped it to Berlin where it was put back together.
From April 8-15, Mendoza, who is American born, plans to put the home on display in Berlin as part of a double exhibition that will include photos by Mendoza and photographer Steve Schapiro.
"Rosa Parks is pretty much a household name in Germany," Mendoza tells Deadline Detroit in a phone interview from Berlin. "A lot of it is thanks to this project. There's been a lot of press."
Mendoza said the exhibition for the house and photographs will be held on a vacant lot he bought years ago in Berlin's Wedding District, a working class neighborhood.
Mendoza has developed a relationship with Detroit in recent years.
In 2015, the American-born artist grabbed headlines when he deconstructed a vacant Detroit and shipped it to Europe, only to put back together, paint it white and turn it into an art project. Last year, he did something creative with two vacant homes in Detroit's Brighmoor neighborhood, spelling out “Clinton” on one and “Trump” on another. LED lights spelled out the names at night.
Along with Ryan, Rhea McCauley, Rosa Park's niece and president of the Rosa Parks Family Foundation, will fly from Detroit to be on hand for the opening of the showing of the Rosa Park's home. It's her first time traveling to Europe.
"I’m so excited I can’t even put into words, "McCauley tells Deadline Detroit. "He's done an excellent job."
Mendoza is excited about the project, too, but also disappointed.
"While content with the media's momentary fascination for the project, I'm disheartened that not a single American institution has come forward with even vague interest in the project, one which would entail bringing the Rosa Parks' house back to the United States, where it rightfully belongs, " Mendoza says.
He also sees deeper meaning in the project beyond the obvious.
"We have such a fascination with death," he says. "The house goes up on display in the month of Easter, the month of the resurrection of Christ. It's the most celebrated story we have going. We're born in a culture fascinated by death. This house defies that; it has come back to life. To put the lights on inside the house is to give the house back a sense of life."
Parks died Oct. 24, 2005 at age 92.
For the photo exhibit, actress Rose McGowan, who is in some of Mendoza's photos, will attend the opening.
Below is one of the photos by Mendoza that will be displayed at the exhibit. It's a picture of McGowan mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin.