Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is as pertinent today as it ever was. The fight for racial equality continues with the widespread #BlackLivesMatter movement, and King’s revolutionary ideas still resonate with today’s discontents. Curator Roula David decided to pay homage to the influential historical figure with the group show “We Have a Dream” at Detroit’s Inner State Gallery. For the exhibition, she invited a diverse selection of local, emerging artists to listen to King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and interpret it for themselves.
“With such a diverse group of artists not only in race, but age and gender as well, that response was both political and whimsical,” said David of the show’s results. “The current events really just motivated me to find a way to bring attention to Dr. King’s approach to inequality with something that was inclusive for everyone to participate in whether you are the artists, the collector, or the patron.”
The artists’ interpretations of their dream worlds are varied, with some works directly referencing today’s political struggles and others taking an open-ended approach. But together, they look optimistically forward, ushering in their hopes for a more equitable society.
“I think that we forget how young Dr. King was when he was doing this great work,” David reflected. “It is inspiring and courageous to be so resolute at such a young age. He knew exactly what his purpose was. We spend a lifetime trying to figure that out, and not get anywhere close. He combatted inequality through non-violence. That is something that needs to be remembered and what made all of his work so impactful.”
“We Have a Dream” opens on January 24 at Inner State Gallery and will be on view through February 21. Participating artists include Allison Vince, Ashley McFadden, Ashley Marie, Ben Saginaw, Bethany Shorb, Brian Lacey, Christopher Batten, Corey Birdwell, Desiree Kelly, Dessislava Terzieva, Ellen Rutt, Eno Laget, Exactly Hi-Tops, James Noellert, Jeremy Deputat, Jesse Kassel, Jon Parlangeli, Joshua Hanford, Julian Spradlin, Kobie Solomon, Lamar Landers, Malt, Mark Sarmel, Michael Eugene Burdick, Michelle Tanguay, Mike Popso, Nick Jaskey, NNII, Paula Schubatis, Paula Zammit, Rashaun Rucker, Rick Williams, Robby Dimaria, Ron Zakrin, Ryan C. Doyle, Sheefy, Sleep, Sydney G. James, Tead, Tom Stoye, Tylonn J. Sawyer, and Zak Meers.