Detroit, Michigan Spotlights Artists With Technology

The city of Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (ACE) recently introduced a new map and smartphone app to promote the work of local artists.

ACE worked with art technology company CANVS to create two new tools to highlight local art: the Mural Map, located on ACE’s website; and an app, which enables users to use their smartphones and devices to identify murals and artists wherever they find them. The Mural Map features hundreds of murals which have been documented by volunteers, collections of murals with similar styles and themes, an artist directory of the city’s best muralists, and a search function.

“Technology and art have always enhanced each other,” Rochelle Riley, the city’s director of arts and culture, stated. “The world wide web is a museum; it’s not only an information superhighway, you can sit all day and look up different artists and see amazing work.”

The art project began in 2017 with a program called City Walls – an initiative to remove graffiti by using a public art fund to hire local artists to create murals in the place of the graffiti.

“There are a lot of barriers when it comes to the way cities, individuals, organizations, etc., capture the essence of art and how they use art to help drive community growth or tourism or commerce,” CANVS co-founder Ralph André said. “And what we’re doing with CANVS is we’re using technology to help raise awareness, build stronger connections through people, and facilitate more activity around art.”

The city has also started hosting guided tours to showcase this work within its borders.

While the city was ranked fourth in the nation for street art by USA Today, this initiative aims to help the city meet its goal of ranking first.

Riley noted that despite the challenges that the city has faced in the past, the outlook is positive: “Detroit is fantastic now, and if we can understand that and embrace that, particularly with our creative arts industry, the sky is the limit.”