Young Detroit Photo Society Kicks Off with A Photo Walk

Three youth serving photo programs in Detroit—Capturing Belief, Darkroom Detroit, and Inside Southwest Detroit—came together to develop the Young Detroit Photo Society (YDPS) as a program that introduces the youth of Detroit to photography by way of also introducing them to each other and their own city.

With an emphasis on skill building in photography, youth from various neighborhoods around Detroit meet and serve as each others’ guides as they participate in photo-based scavenger hunts that ultimately produce community-driven narratives about places and their time together. The program supports youth in developing photographic competencies, exploring and learning about different places around the city, and connecting and building relationships with youth from various communities and backgrounds.

Inside Southwest Detroit recently hosted the first edition when more than 20 young photographers from around the city met at their space at Avis and Elsmere. They were greeted by photo mentors, also from various neighborhoods and organizations around the city.

Eight of the participants were from Southwest Detroit and served as guides in groups on photo walks that covered a half square mile. Having gone in different directions, the young photogs reunited at the building to share their photos with mentors and each other then collaboratively selected and captioned photos that would best depict the routes they traveled. Together the body of work forms a photo narrative of the community and their time together.

No part of this effort would be possible without the mission and vision of the organizations and the shared passion and values of the photographers that each contributed to developing and facilitating this first YDPS project. A special thanks to La Sirena Studio and the Documenting Detroit Fellowship for their support and roles as mentors to the young photographers of the YDPS.

Annual Angels' Night Event Features Arts, Activities, and Performances

Each year Inside Southwest Detroit holds an Angels’ Night event on The Alley Project for community, older and younger, to gather and share time and space. We began holding this event each year on Angels’ Night when youth outdoors without an adult can be ticketed and/or picked up and held at local precincts for curfew violation before the sun even sets. It has emerged as an annual tradition of food, arts, and at times performances.

Mary led arts and crafts with children and their parents and artists and their families visited to get to know each other and neighbors better.

A young neighbor came over with his guitar and offered to play some impromptu tunes by request entertaining attendees during his time on stage. This served as an unofficial opening for our scheduled community performance as this year’s event included a mariachi performance by Machetes and students he has worked with during his Porch on TAP residency a couple times each week in October.

An Evening of Spoken Word Performance with Candida the Poet

Candida the Poet hosted an evening of spoken word performance as her middle school participants performed alongside their instructor and guest poets in front of 20 parents, youth, and neighbors for the Porch On TAP artist residency program. 

If the youth were nervous… it barely showed. Their amplified voices fluctuated with the power of their stories. Topics ranged from relationships to family, incarceration, faith, politics, and beauty. Family and friends clapped and cheered.

Candida and Justin Gordon, both members of The Guild Poetry Collective, performed pieces of their own acclaimed work much to the excitement of the youth and the rest of the audience. 

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The evening ended with talk of how this is something that is missing… and that they would like to do something about it. Open Mic nights and poetry workshops is something they said they would like to make sure happens beyond the residency. 

Students Return For Another Round of Basics with DJ Skipz

DJ Skipz’s students returned for another workshop to recall the basics from the previous session and build on them with some new challenges and techniques. Matching beats, juggling, and even a little scratching kept everyone around until the sun went down.

Parents and a few guests dropped in to enjoy the space and each others’ company. Several neighborhood DJs have come through and are meeting each other for the first time… and have been throwing around some ideas about how to get together more regularly in a way that keeps the youth engaged in the culture. 

Spoken 101 with Candida

Candida ran back-to-back workshops this week—Spoken Word 101 with elementary age participants in the morning and continued work with her small group of new, young middle school poets throughout the afternoon.

Team builders, videos, demonstrations and other activities introduced the young audiences to poetry in ways they hadn’t seen or done themselves.

The middle schoolers worked this week on building their confidence by working in teams with critical feedback and performing in front of themselves.

You can see the difference in the questions they are asking and in their work. They are preparing works for a public presentation in the coming weeks where they will perform an evening of poetry in front of a modest audience of no more than 20. 

DJ Skipz Welcomed As One of Several Community-Selected Porch On TAP Artists in Residence

We’re honored to welcome DJ Skipz as one of several community-selected Porch On TAP artists in residence helping to activate our new space on Avis and Elsmere!! DJ Skipz grew up here in Southwest Detroit and mixes live weekly on the Inside Southwest Detroit LiveMix on Facebook.

During his residency Skipz will be focusing on exposure and skill building with young aspiring DJs that have little to no experience to support youth interest and talent in the culture. 

The Porch On TAP invites youth, neighbors, and artists to share time and space during workshops, a community meal, and public installation to help activate the building. Together we are building and celebrating community through creative processes.

Machetes Welcomed from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as One of several Community-Selected Porch On TAP Artists in Residence

We’re honored to welcome Machetes, joining us from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as one of several community-selected Porch On TAP artists in residence helping to activate the new space!!

Machetes is an accomplished mariachi who has been playing for over 30 years and specializes in the vihuela, a small, five-stringed guitar with roots in 15th century Spain, Portugal, and Italy. 

When traveling Machetes plays with local mariachis and offers lessons in the specialized techniques of the vihuela. During the residency he will be instructing small groups twice weekly for four weeks leading up to a public performance here at the building.  

Candida The Poet Welcomed as Artist in Residence For Porch On TAP

Candida The Poet is a writer, performer, and an advocate from Southwest Detroit. Her poetry and instruction demonstrate the power of voice and introspection, often challenging systemic injustice while raising awareness about a range of social topics including violence, incarceration, and addiction. Candida’s poem about gentrification, “Painfully Painted”, has been recognized for its relevance and perspective and is currently integrated into the Political Science curriculum at Wayne State University.


Candida is joining us as a resident artist at The Alley Project!! She is helping to inaugurate our new home on Avis and Elsmere as we transform our front porch to a setting for artistic exchange during our artist residency program, the Porch On TAP.

During her residency she will focus her work with a small group of middle school poets who have never composed and performed original works for an audience—working to develop experiences and skills in writing, collective participation/feedback, and performance. Additionally she will facilitate Spoken Word 101 workshops with younger youth to promote exposure to written and performance arts. 



Walking The Alley, Andrea Identifies Public Art Installation Location

Andrea walked the alley along TAP to identify potential locations for her public art installation. In the end she found a perfect location that both she and the property owner are excited about.

She was curious about and interested in local plant life along the alley and shared a little about several plants native to the region around Mexico City, where she is from. 

After the walk and talk she identified this garage as an ideal location. We reached out to the owner and he was excited to offer it as a canvas for her installation. This garage is ideally arranged and located to host an installation that celebrates our collaboration by housing two engraved poster prints of plants local to Detroit and to Mexico City. One on each side. In the middle will be a mural depicting bird houses with several birds, local to Michigan and to Mexico, by Southwest Detroit artist Bryant Valdez.

During Andrea’s residency Bryant was exposed to printmaking for the first time and took an immediate interest in it—learning new techniques and approaches daily with her instruction. Eventually he attended almost every workshop she offered during her time here.

They are eager and excited to work together on this project to create an installation, in partnership with the homeowner, for the community to enjoy. 

Graficanarno Welcomed As New Porch On TAP Artist in Residence

Graficanarno is a printmaker born and living in Mexico City. She believes art is a powerful tool for radical social transformation, especially in our uncertain times. Together with her collective, Mujeres Grabando Resistencia , she has engaged in campaigns to raise awareness about and challenge various social conditions including femicide in Mexico.

She is a teaching spirit and values creative processes as an important part of community building. Graficanarno travels around Mexico and internationally to share skills through workshops and public installations.

She is joining us, fresh off a workshop series in Chicago and Milwaukee, as a resident artist at The Alley Project. She is helping to inaugurate our new home on Avis and Elsmere as we transform our front porch to a setting for artistic exchange during our artist residency program, the Porch On TAP!!

Mural Installation Progress Party on Avis and Elsmere

More than 60 neighbors, youth, and artists gathered today to share a meal and watch the mural installation progress with Pherz and Freddy on Avis and Elsmere.

Several of The Alley Project’s networks enjoyed each others’ company, many visiting the building and even meeting for the first time.

The porch was animated with food, music, sketching, stories, laughter, and children everywhere you turned.

As the sun set those who stuck around took it indoors to enjoy the AC and got to see the building lit up and entering sleep mode after a full day of use. 

Blackbook Sessions with Pherz

Pherz held blackbook sessions this week inviting artists and their families to gather, pass books and stickers around, and sketch.

Everyone leaves with something from someone else who’s work they respect and has the chance to return the favor. The sessions serve as recreation, skill share, and community building. 

Freddy and Pherz got to kick around concepts and logistics for the mural installation that will begin within the next couple days. 

Pherz Welcomed as Porch On TAP Artist in Residence

Pherz is a street artist and muralist from Missouri. He lived in Detroit for several years in the early 2000s and was a regular visitor to The Alley from 2004-2007 as it was just beginning to take shape.

Pherz and writers from his crew spent time with youth, neighbors, and invited other artists to do the same—impacting the early years and development of The Alley Project.

Now Pherz is rejoining us from St Louis as a resident artist at The Alley Project. He is helping us inaugurate our new home on Avis and Elsmere as we transform our front porch to a setting for artistic exchange during our artist residency program, the Porch On TAP!!

Installation of Ceiling Panels

The panels for the ceiling have been delivered and are currently being installed. The 40-piece construction is comprised of 10 panels, with 4 pieces each, installed along the steel beams. The cuts reveal a glimpse of the wood between panels. The installation is tedious and time consuming. 

The new ceiling conceals the structure and plywood underneath that levels the two ceiling heights—one of the original building and the other of the extension on the Avis side. 

Diseños Screen Installation

Diseños returned to the site today to install the screens, completed after several rounds of sample installations and feedback.

The finished product honors and will interact with the mural installed on the building as it complements the style and line work of Tead’s graffiti art.

The screens will also cast a beautiful shadow across the interior of the building and on the shades as a result of the amount and direction of light the building receives each day all year long.