‘Womxnhouse Detroit’ Transforms a Local Home into an Art Installation

The new exhibition, which features work by 14 women artists, is inspired by the 1972 feminist project ‘Womanhouse’
Jessica DeMuro Graves, pictured above, is among the artists participating in Womxnhouse Detroit. // Photograph courtesy of Jessica DeMuro Graves

In 1972, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, the founders of the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts, collaborated with 21 other women artists to launch Womanhouse in an abandoned Hollywood mansion. The artists transformed the house into a performance space and installation — which, among its projects, featured a bathroom coated in red lipstick and a life-size bridal doll standing at the top of a staircase — that commented on the stereotypes and expectations of women and their role in the home. Now, nearly 50 years later, local artists are taking inspiration from the landmark project in a new exhibit called Womxnhouse Detroit.

The exhibit is located at 1534 St. Mary’s St. in Detroit in the childhood home of Norwest Gallery owner Asia Hamilton, who co-curated Womxnhouse Detroit with Laura Earle. Fifteen contemporary women artists were each assigned a room or a space in the home to reimagine. Their projects give thought to the meaning of the home in the time we’re living in now, and honor those lost during the pandemic while exploring womanhood through themes such as resilience, crossing borders, and caregiving.

“I hope guests will feel aspects of their own lives reflected, validated, and celebrated in the artwork. I hope they’ll be spiritually soothed, intellectually challenged, and socially energized by the stirring elements created by our women artists,” says Earle in a press release. Earle, who served as Womxnhouse Detroit’s primary facilitator, previously worked on Dear Womanhouse, What Now? The Art of Being Female in America Today, another response to the original Womanhouse that ran for six weeks in Manchester, Michigan, in 2018.

Both Hamilton and Earle will present work in Womxnhouse Detroit. Other participating artists include Melinda “MeMe” Anderson, Loralei R. Byatt, Amelia Duran, Setareh Ghoreishi, Erin Gold, Olivia Guterson, Donna Jackson, Melanie Manos, Sabrina Nelson, Dalia Reyes, Leslie Sobel, Rosa Maria Zamarron, and Jessica DeMuro Graves.

“We are working this space together, and in different ways, raising up each other’s voices, creating a choir,” says DeMuro Graves, who transformed an upstairs bedroom into a large-scale womb installation for her Womxnhouse Detroit project, in a press release. “Having the opportunity to work with so many women of so many backgrounds — and for us to all come together to activate this space — this is really going to create something special.”

The exhibit is on view now through Oct. 23. Guests are required to reserve tickets online through Eventbrite. There is no admission cost, but donations, which will fund a Womxnhouse Detroit Artists and Curatorial Residency at the Mary Street house, are accepted.

For more information, visit norwestgallery.com.

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Emma Klug is a senior editor and digital content coordinator at Hour Detroit. In her role, Klug writes and edits stories on community, art, food, and lifestyle topics for hourdetroit.com, edits the Hour Daily newsletter, and is involved in planning and proofing the monthly print magazine. She also oversees the editorial web internship program for the magazine. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Klug has been with Hour Detroit since 2016. She has also contributed to Hour Media publications DBusiness magazine and Metro Detroit Weddings magazine. You can reach her at eklug@hour-media.com.