Two Detroit Cultural Institutions Partner in the Name of Design, Climate Actions and Community Vision

DETROIT, MI  – The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the College for Creative Studies have partnered for the d.Tree Studio, a collaboration that brings together creative inquiry, craft, sustainability, community vision and storytelling.

This unique partnership started in 2018, when the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (The Wright Museum) noticed dying Zelkova trees on their Midtown campus. With this observation, and as part of its mission to be a zero-waste institution, the museum decided to form a collaboration with its neighbors, the College for Creative Studies (CCS). The goal of this partnership was to use the lumber harvested from the Zelkova trees in a creative endeavor and question how an African American museum and art and design school could set a precedent for climate justice art.

Over the course of three years, these two cultural institutions worked in unison to create a curriculum called the d.Tree Studio. For 15 weeks, students in the CCS Woodshop explored how designers and makers can learn from the wisdom of trees through the lens of various African material cultures and African American experiences in Detroit. These two great institutions hosted critical conversations amongst Detroit's artists, educators, students, elders, and landscape architects to explore what Detroit's trees have seen during an event entitled: Treeposium. During this engaging discussion, the African American experience in Detroit, the science of trees, and how we're all connected was examined.

“In 2019, the Wright Museum made a commitment to become a Zero Waste Institution. At that time, we’d noticed that several trees on our campus we’re dying. It was important for us to find a way to keep these trees, like thousands of others across Detroit, from ending up mulched and dumped in a landfill. At that point we reached out to our neighbor, the College of Creative Studies to help find a way to extend the life of these trees in a meaningful way,” said Leslie Tom, Chief Sustainability Officer, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “We believe our Detroit trees have something to teach us about respecting the wisdom of people, place and history as well as our relationship with trees in the future,” said Ms. Tom.

With 12 new and emerging artists, six CCS students and six community makers on scholarship. Together, these artists designed and built narrative pieces out of the harvested Zelkova wood, which will be exhibited The d.Tree Studio project is traveling to The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History where we define the lens of our relationship with Detroit trees from past, present and future. (July 20 - December 10, 2023).

Media Contact:
Kelly Miner, Marketing & Communications Manager
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 E. Warren Avenue, Michigan 48201 or call 313.494.5865