Knight Foundation

Knight Arts Challenge Winners

These 57 Knight Arts Challenge winners are helping to engage and enrich Detroit, bringing high-quality art experiences more deeply into the city's neighborhoods.

Congratulations also to the Hamtramck Free School, winner of the 2015 People's Choice Award!

Photo: Sidewalk Festival of the Performing Arts/ Cheryl Willard Photography
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  • Art and Urban Farming

    Recipient: Burnside Farm

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Bringing together art and urban farming by expanding to year-round a series of art installations, performances and community dinners at the farm in a new community space.

  • Algorithmic Recitative at MoCAD

    Recipient: Recipient: McEwen Studio / A(n) Office

    Award: $13,000

    Aim: Exploring design tactics for early industrial “balloon-frame” houses in Detroit, a research project that presents alternatives for vacant and publicly owned structures, to be displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

  • Anyspace? Whatever.

    Recipient: rootoftwo

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Examining the impact of technology on 21st-century life with two architectural installations that propose methods for designing buildings, clothes and objects that can evade electronic means of detection.

  • A Riverfront Gathering Space Designed by James Turrell

    Recipient: Skyspace Detroit

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Commissioning artist James Turrell to design Detroit Skyspace, a place for gathering and inspiration at Gabriel Richard Park.

  • Flux Detroit - Artist Residency Program

    Recipient: Tiff Massey

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Launching a one-month residency for international and national visual artists who use metal as their primary medium.


  • Cinetopia Film Festival - Detroit Voices Program

    Recipient: Michigan Theater

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Building community through the Cinetopia Film Festival by increasing the number of free screenings and events for underserved audiences while expanding the Detroit Voices program for local filmmakers.


  • The Detroit Robot Factory

    Recipient: 826michigan

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Fostering a love of literature in youth by turning this writing center in Eastern Market into a pretend “robot factory” where students create stories to humanize the bots.

  • Detroit Sci-Fi Generator: Phase II

    Recipient: Adrienne Brown

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Engaging artists in the city’s future by expanding a salon series that uses science fiction to envision – and ultimately create – a better Detroit.

  • Detroit Research, a Contemporary Art Journal

    Recipient: Michael Stone-Richards / Alexandrine St. Seminars and College for Creative Studies

    Award: $30,000

    Aim: Highlighting the quality of contemporary art in Detroit by presenting the works in a national and international framework in the new journal Detroit Research.

  • Michigan Metaphorical Melee

    Recipient: Deonte Osayande

    Award: $4,000

    Aim: Expanding the Michigan Metaphorical Melee, a poetry festival, to include a team poetry slam, showcases of local publishers, workshops and a theater production where local poets perform characters based on their writings.

  • The Writer's Block Chapbook Series

    Recipient: Hamtramck Free School

    Award: $10,000

    Aim: Sharing the poetry and visual art of imprisoned individuals who meet weekly in a writing workshop by publishing a chapbook series that showcases their art and stories.

  • Detroit Griot

    Recipient: Heritage Works

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Sharing West African traditions with Detroiters by providing a residency for a West African griot who will mentor local youth and artists in the oral traditions of Mali and Senegal, resulting in a performance of Detroit stories.

  • Louder than a Bomb

    Recipient: InsideOut Literary Arts Project

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Expanding the literary arts in Detroit by turning the statewide teen poetry slam “Louder Than a Bomb” into year-round programming for students.

  • Sidewalks and Sidetrails

    Recipient: Sidewalk Festival of the Performing Arts

    Award: $40,000

    Aim: Enlivening public spaces with nature-based art through Sidewalks and SideTrails, a residency program that develops and presents walkable performances and installations along the trails of Brightmoor’s Eliza Howell Park.

  • The Tuxedo Project

    Recipient: Stephen Henderson / Marygrove College

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Turning the abandoned childhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson into a space that promotes the literary arts via a resident fellow at nearby Marygrove College.

  • Stupor Zine: Hamtramck Story Collection

    Recipient: Stupor

    Award: $18,000

    Aim: Sharing Hamtramck through “Stupor,” a zine that collects and publishes true stories from the people who frequent the city’s many bars and watering holes.


  • Assembled Sound: Showcasing Detroit Through Cross-Genre Collaboration

    Recipient: Assemble Sound

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Exploring the breadth of music talent in the city by pairing local musicians across genres and generations to write, produce and record albums together.

  • Khol daar Khol (Open the Door): A Bengali Songbook

    Recipient: Bangla School of Music

    Award: $12,000

    Aim: Celebrating Bengali culture with a bilingual songbook and CD featuring the works of Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, set to the work of Detroit composer Akram Hussain and reflecting on the immigrant experience of Bengali-Americans in the Motor City.

  • Glasgow/ Detroit Collaboration

    Recipient: Cedric Tai Studios

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Exploring life in two post-industrial cities by pairing artists from Detroit and Glasgow, Scotland, to collaborate on curated exhibitions.

  • Corktown Studios Presents: The Haunted Wood Review

    Recipient: Corktown Studios

    Award: $4,500

    Aim: Highlighting Detroit’s rock and hip-hop musicians by professionally recording sessions of Corktown Studios’ “unplugged” performance showcase, “The Haunted Wood Revue”.

  • Detroit Afrikan Funkestra

    Recipient: Detroit Afrikan Music Institution

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Creating a nomadic funk opera by staging cutting-edge outdoor musical performances throughout the city.

  • Detroit Youth Volume Hip-Hop Violin Single

    Recipient: Detroit Youth Volume

    Award: $22,000

    Aim: Recording a hip-hop violin single featuring Eastside youth performing classical pieces with the beats of three local artists.

  • Dilla Youth Day

    Recipient: Foundation of Women in Hip-Hop

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Preserving hip-hop culture and the legacy of Detroit rapper and producer J Dilla with daylong workshops in art and technology that help youth explore the creative potential of cutting-edge software and tools.

  • Mariachi Juvenil Detroit Program

    Recipient: Mariachi Juvenil Detroit Program

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Preserving the mariachi tradition by expanding the Mariachi Juvenil Detroit program, which trains local youth to become professional mariachis, and creating an all-female ensemble.

  • "Pack the Halls - Sphinx at the Max" Free tickets for Detroiters

    Recipient: Sphinx Organization

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Increasing diversity in and accessibility to classical music by providing free tickets and programming – plus TV and online broadcasts – of the annual Sphinx Finals Concert at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Max M. Fisher Music Center.

  • Third Wave Equips Detroit Musicians

    Recipient: Third Wave Music

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: Bringing together musicians at a storefront that sells instruments and accessories, offers repairs, and educates with private and free lessons on playing, do-it-yourself repairs and songwriting.

  • Detroit Black Gospel Reissue Project

    Recipient: YETI

    Award: $18,000

    Aim: Sharing the gospel music of Detroit by reissuing several gospel albums produced in Detroit in the 1960s and ’70s.


  • A Transgender “Carmen”

    Recipient: Opera MODO

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: Exploring gender and sexuality through a transgender production of Bizet’s “Carmen” where the performance is set in a minimum-security prison reminiscent of the series “Orange Is the New Black”.

  • You Us We All

    Recipient: Shara Worden

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Engaging audiences by bringing to Detroit a newly composed modern baroque chamber opera, “You Us We All,” a work inspired by Beyonce and Bach that reinterprets classical forms for audiences in the iPhone age.


  • Good Bones

    Recipient: Interstate Arts

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Bringing the stories of a Detroit building to life in “Good Bones,” a multimedia performance of shadow puppetry and projections that explores the Sophie Wright Settlement House and the neighborhood’s stories of perseverance and evolution.

  • Mosaic Experience Empowerment Project

    Recipient: Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Bringing more arts programs into Detroit schools by pairing professional performing artists with middle schools that don’t have theater programs for short-term residencies.

Visual Arts

  • Fire Art Installation and Commuity Space

    Recipient: Anders Ruhwald

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Turning a Detroit apartment into an art installation and community space that embraces fire’s transformative qualities, with everything inside made of charred wood, steel, molten glass and black ceramics.

  • Outdoor Puppet Spectacles - Detroit Puppet Shows Set Against the City's Skyline

    Recipient: CMAP (Carrie Morris Arts Production)

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Composing new narratives for Detroit by staging an Outdoor Puppet Spectacle Series featuring larger-than-life performing objects that use the city as their backdrop.

  • Artist Led Exhibitions Hosted at CAVE

    Recipient: CAVE

    Award: $15,000

    Aim: Helping artists create more ambitious projects by providing financial support for emerging artists exhibiting at this artist-run project space.

  • The Big Screen

    Recipient: Cobo Center / Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority

    Award: $40,000

    Aim: Inspiring the city by programming Cobo’s large exterior screen with digital art from local and national artists.

  • Southwest Detroit Murals

    Recipient: Corpus

    Award: $30,000

    Aim: Creating a sense of place through art with a series of murals on Southwest Detroit’s commercial buildings that feature Mexican culture along with advertisements.

  • (Re)Documenting Detroit

    Recipient: Detroit Historical Society

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Preserving this moment in Detroit’s evolution by partnering with students at the College for Creative Studies to “Re-Document” Detroit in a photo series similar to one done by a professor and students in the 1970s and ’80s.

  • The "Welcome to Osborne" Mural Project

    Recipient: Detroit Institute of Arts

    Award: $10,000

    Aim: Reimagining the Osborn neighborhood as an art destination by commissioning two Osborn-born artists and a fellow Detroit artist to engage the community in creating a large-scale welcome mural.

  • Uncovering a Detroit Jewel: Louise Nevelson's Trilogy

    Recipient: Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Preserving the legacy of sculptor Louise Nevelson by restoring one of her prized works and possibly relocating it to the Dequindre Cut Greenway or the Riverfront.

  • DEPE Space: Art as Transformative Social Change

    Recipient: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Expanding the DEPE Space residency program for individuals of any discipline whose work expands the thinking around what is possible when art is used as a change agent.

  • Wheelin’ Around: A Mobile, Pop-Up Clay Party

    Recipient: Pewabic Pottery

    Award: $60,000

    Aim: Creating an interactive ceramic experience for all ages through a mobile clay party where participants work with an artist to decorate a pot, which is fired on site and pulled red-hot from the kiln to reveal unique designs and patterns that serve as a metaphor for creative rebirth.

  • The Back Forty Project

    Recipient: Popps Packing

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Turning an unused alley behind Popps Emporium into “The Back Forty,” a green corridor and community resource hub that modifies backyard garages and sheds into a chain of art studios, workshops, a tool lending library and more.

  • Signs

    Recipient: Scott Hocking

    Award: $37,500

    Aim: Bringing art into communities by using the metal armatures of former commercial signage to hold illuminated sign versions of famous artworks.

  • Letterpress Love Fest

    Recipient: Signal-Return

    Award: $35,000

    Aim: Celebrating the art of letterpress, and the growing number of practitioners and aficionados in Detroit, with “Letterpress Love Fest: Type Takes Over Detroit,” an interactive and collaborative festival of the printing, visual and literary arts.

  • TAP Community Printing Space

    Recipient: Stitching up Detroit / Grace in Action

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Providing training for teens in creative industries by launching a youth-led, membership-based community print shop focused on screen-printing, design and entrepreneurship.

  • The Detroit Hair Experience

    Recipient: The Detroit Hair Experience

    Award: $8,000

    Aim: Strengthening the Detroit Hair Experience, a hair, fashion and art event for Detroiters to share their passions with each other.

  • The Detroit Atlas

    Recipient: The Prankster Press

    Award: $10,000

    Aim: Creating new ways to perceive and navigate the city through “The Detroit Atlas,” a series of maps  that demarcate the city based on a variety of perceptions collected from history, weather patterns, public data and subjective experiences.

  • Shield of Peace and Non-Violence

    Recipient: Vito Valdez and Katie Yamasaki

    Award: $14,000

    Aim: Preserving a symbol of local Chicano pride by restoring and completing a mural, the “Shield of Peace and Non-violence,” in Southwest Detroit.


  • Sigi Festival

    Recipient: AFROTOPIA

    Award: $30,000

    Aim: Bringing together art and the cosmos in Sigi Fest, an annual performance art festival at House Opera | Opera House that aims to rejuvenate the spirit of Detroiters.

  • 1001 Days - Iraqi Women's Stories

    Recipient: Alise Alousi

    Award: $32,500

    Aim: Sharing the stories of recent Iraqi women refugees in Detroit by pairing them with Iraqi artists and writers to develop a series of photo essays about their lives.

  • Arab America Artist Residency Program

    Recipient: Arab American National Museum

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Increasing the public’s understanding of Arab and Arab-American culture through an artist-in-residence program that engages the community and serves as an incubator for new works.

  • You're Coming With Me

    Recipient: Chace Morris

    Award: $7,500

    Aim: Using an energetic hybrid of poetry and music to examine gentrification, renewal and the tense relationship between citizen and city within Detroit, through the lens of the science-fiction film “RoboCop”.

  • Beware of the Dandelions: Detroit Homecoming

    Recipient: Complex Movements

    Award: $45,000

    Aim: Bringing the interactive performance installation, “Beware of the Dandelions,” which toured nationally with stories of Detroit’s social justice movements, back home so Detroiters can experience the movement stories of other cities it visited.

  • In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth)

    Recipient: Cranbrook Art Museum

    Award: $60,000

    Aim: Presenting a Detroit tour of “The Truth Booth,” a portable film studio in the shape of a speech bubble by Hank Willis Thomas and The Cause Collective that compiles responses to the statement “The truth is…”.

  • Free Market of Detroit

    Recipient: Halima Cassells

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Creating interactive installations where participants exchange goods, stories and ideas, and take part in up-cycled fashion workshops.

  • Salon De’troit

    Recipient: Marsha Music

    Award: $6,000

    Aim: Creating “Salon De’troit,” a space led by Marsha Music for artists and thinkers to exchange ideas and explore topics relating to the Motor City.

  • Spread Art

    Spread Art Artist Residency and Performance / Exhibition Series

    Recipient: Spread Art

    Award: $35,000

    Aim: Providing space and support for Detroit-based visual, performing and literary artists through a three-month residency to create and present new work.