A Detroit Gallery Is Giving Out Free Meals—and Artist-Designed Coloring Books—to Children While Schools Are Closed
The gallery Library Street Collective is stepping up to support the community.
As schools across the country shut down, some children are at risk of missing out on more than just their education. For many families, school is a reliable source of breakfast and lunch for their kids. So to help food-insecure families, the Detroit gallery Library Street Collective will be handing out weeknight dinners to local public school kids for the next two weeks.
“About a week ago, things started taking a turn for the worse here and we realized the schools were on the verge of closing,” Anthony Curis, the gallery’s co-founder, told Artnet News. “We thought it would be fun to pull together a project that not only provides a basic need and is a dire necessity right now, but also offers a source of inspiration for students who are out of school.”
To provide more than just physical nourishment, each meal will come with a coloring book featuring line drawings by contemporary artists, including KAWS, Shepard Fairey, and Nina Chanel Abney, to name just a few. Kids will also get a set of coloring pencils and a pencil sharpener.
At the end of the book’s 29 drawings, the 30th page has been purposely left blank. “It has room for them to fill their name in and create their own drawing,” said Curis. “I thought it would be fun for a young student to put themselves in conversation with these amazing artists.”
The project also has a distinct Detroit flair, taking its title, We All Rise, from the Detroit Public Schools district motto “Students rise. We all rise.” The gradient of colors on the cover is inspired by the district’s blue and yellow logo, and even some of the artwork—most of it drawn specially for the occasion—was created with Detroit in mind.
“Art and all forms of creativity provide valuable therapy any time, but especially during times of stress and social isolation. I hope that this sketchbook will provide a positive creative outlet in this time of uncertainty,” Shepard Fairey said in a statement.
Because Detroit public schools are still operating their lunch programs—for now—the gallery decided to focus on dinner. It printed 2,500 coloring books to start, and is committed to providing meals for two weeks starting Monday, with the hope of extending the program beyond.
In addition to running the gallery, Curis is a partner in hospitality venues in Detroit—restaurants that have now shut down in response to health concerns. Preparing student dinners, therefore, also serves as a ways to offer continued employment to restaurant workers who would otherwise be out of a job during the health crisis.
The menu will feature dishes including roast chicken with polenta and sweet and sour brussels sprouts, pork shoulder with potato wedges and succotash, and, for a vegan option, curried charred cauliflower.
Two partnering nonprofits, Forgotten Harvest and Downtown Boxing Gym, will help the gallery distribute the meal packages. Curis is actively looking for additional partners to help grow the project’s scope. The goal is to serve as many of the city’s neediest public school kids as possible, keeping in mind that parents who were already in a tenuous financial position now find themselves home from work and without pay indefinitely.
“We’re trying to figure this all out as we go,” said Curis, noting that he’s heard from arts professionals in other cities around the country who are interested in replicating the initiative. “We’re hopeful someone will really step up and help support the project.”
Here is the full list of participating artists:
Nina Chanel Abney
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