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The American Riad Project, co-founded by Professor Christopher Robbins, wins Knight Foundation Award

The Knight Foundation Arts program award is proof of their confidence on its impact on the art and cultural life of Detroit.

The American Riad Project, which came out of an international collaboration between Detroit, Morocco, and Ghana ThinkTank, an art collective co-founded by Professor Christopher Robbins, was selected as a 2021 Knight Arts Challenge winner.

Inspired by the innovative idea, The Knight Foundation Arts program awarded the project $171,00 over two years, proof of their confidence that American Riad will positively impact the art and cultural life of Detroit.

Director, School of Art+Design Christopher Robbins inside the sculpture on site at the American R... A housing justice, preservation, and community art project years in the making—that many Purchase students have helped bring to fruition—is nearing completion. The award will help the group complete the 3,000 square foot sculpture at the center of this Community Land Trust. A former empty lot surrounded by abandoned buildings has transformed into a riad, a Moroccan-inspired shared courtyard surrounded by low-income apartments and businesses.

The grant will also allow for the design and installation of a performance space and for a series of performances and dialogues at the intersection of Black American and Muslim cultures.

Ghana ThinkTank, The Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition, North End Woodward Community Organization, and Detroit Justice Center formed an art and architecture collaborative to develop the abandoned corner. And to prevent gentrification, the eight business and residences will be kept permanently affordable through the legal and financial protections of a community land trust developed with the Detroit Justice Center and the Central Detroit Christian CDC.

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American Riad in Detroit, street view (Photo: Midwest Modern)