'Unraveling Racism:' Detroit gallery show tiptoes on eggshells, which appear in one work

January 16, 2020, 7:00 PM

The exhibition is on view for three more weekends in Northwest Detroit. (Photo: Instagram/Norwest Gallery of Art)

A new Detroit art exhibit focuses on a topic so touchy that one work symbolizes it by displaying eggshells in a U.S. flag pattern and on the floor.

The three-week show, "Unraveling Racism: Seeing Whiteness," opened last weekend at Norwest Gallery of Art on Grand River Avenue in the Grandmont-Rosedale area. Twenty Michigan artists -- black and white -- "tug at the hidden strands of systemic racism woven into the fabric of American society," says the gallery, started by Detroit photographer Asia Hamilton in early 2018.

The exhibit's debut was at 22 North gallery in Ypsilanti last fall. (Photo: Facebook/Laura Earle)

Jamilah Jackson takes a look for The Neighborhoods, a city information site:

The exhibit is set up as a journey through the conversations between the artists. [Curator Laura] Earle says in the beginning, it was hard and awkward to talk through the issues because the artists weren’t familiar with each other. ...

One of the artists featured in the gallery is Donna Jackson. She has three pieces in the show exploring how whiteness envelopes the daily lives of Black people, the dueling identities of being American with African roots and the beauty of Blackness. ... "Whiteness is not about your skin color. It's about this experience that has been developed to keep people in very horrible situations," Jackson said.

Earle and Jackson both stated that the artists leaned on each other for support, and that it shows as you move through the exhibit.

The collection of works premiered at an Ypsilanti gallery for two weekends last October. Hamilton, a Southwestern High School graduate with a fine arts degree from Columbia College in Chicago, promotes the presentation as a "controversial exhibition discussing the issues of white privilege."

She is glad the show is during the month of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday – an honor to the legacy of uniting people of all backgrounds.

Exhibit details

  • Where: 19556 Grand River Ave.

  • When: Through Feb. 2 (free)

  • Hours: Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m.

  • Discussions: Jan. 19, 2 p.m. -- artists Laura Earle, Justin Cox, Michael Dixon; Jan. 20, 1 p.m. -- artists Margaret Parker, Rita Lee, Azya Moore

  • Presentation: Jan. 19, 3 p.m. -- Lisa Eddy on "Seeing White at School: Exploring Systemic Racism Through Storytelling"

  • Website:

  • Phone: (313) 293-7344


Read more:  The Neighborhoods

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