Black art is focus of two Juneteenth exhibitions at Collected Detroit

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

When COVID-19 hit last year, local artist Darin Darby began creating a series of pieces, many inspired by his childhood in Detroit.

A name for the series came to him: the Black Arts Movement. Darby, a self-taught visual artist based in Romulus, wondered if such a movement had ever existed. He began doing research.

He discovered that there was a Black Arts Movement from 1965 through 1975, but it focused primarily on writers and poets. Darby wanted to create an exhibition that went further.

"Art is more than just poetry," said Darby. "I’m a visual artist. Art includes everything in life."

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Romulus artist Darin Darby created a piece that declares "Black Art Matters." It's part of an upcoming Juneteenth exhibit at Collected Detroit.

Now, Darby has created a new exhibition of Black art to shine a spotlight on some of Detroit's artists, "BAM: My Art is My Voice." It opens Saturday at Collected Detroit, 2439 Fourth St. 

The exhibition -- which runs through July 19; "BAM" stands for Black Arts Movement and Black Art Matters -- will include more than 60 pieces all by local artists Judy Bowman, Laura Gibson, Henry Heading, Onzie D. Norman and Darby.

The exhibition is one of two Juneteenth-timed events at Collected Detroit. A fiber art exhibit by Sisters of the Cloth artists Najma Ma’at-Wilson and Mandisa Smith also will be on display, highlighting the cultural significance of cloth and how it has served as a record of the past, according to the gallery.

Juneteenth is an annual celebration of Black culture that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It's held on June 19 because that was the day slaves were finally freed in the last state in the country, Texas, after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Since "BAM: My Art is My Voice" focuses heavily on civil rights, Darby said Juneteenth seemed like the perfect day to open the exhibition.

"It's a day of freedom," he said.

The exhibition will include variety of mediums -- paintings, mixed media collages and more.

One piece by Darby, who curated the entire show, is called Black Paint Power and features activist Huey Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party, but with a twist.

"Instead of having a weapon, I put paintbrushes in his hand and paint splatters," said Darby.

Darby said he hopes that visitors to the show walk away with an appreciation for Detroit's talented artists. He said emerging artists from the city are often overlooked.

"We have a lot of emerging talent," said Darby.

'BAM: My Art is My Voice' and Sisters of the Cloth

Saturday-July 19 at Collected Detroit, 2439 Fourth Street.

Opening Reception from 6-9 p.m. Saturday; RSVP at

Call (313) 656-4190 for hours.