Wordless Wednesday: The Jewel of Detroit

Last week my sister Tracey and I took the girls to see what I think of as the Jewel of Detroit. In fact it’s one of the most extensive and important collections in the country world. The Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA.

For Michael and I there are few things that are more important to instill in our children than a love of the arts (family, books and hip hop probably being the top 3…jk…ok not really kidding at all). I love encouraging Cedella’s artistic streak and allowing her the freedom to paint whatever she wants to paint without forcing her hand or trying to make her draw or color something specific. So in that vein I thought it would be a perfect time for her to see what all this paint on paper (or canvas as the case may be) could become. Sorry Isora…you’ll appreciate this in another couple of years

Walking up the front entrance and seeing The Thinker was, as always, such an inspiring way to start a trip into such an incredible place. Cedella said he looked like he was thinking about his family and he was very frustrated.

What the DIA has done to encourage younger patrons to really look at all the art is to create an I Spy game in many of their galleries. The child can go over, read a clue or flip the flap for a visual clue and find that object in the gallery. Cedella and TeTe ran around looking at all the paintings and sculptures to find the I Spy. Here they are looking at a Bernini model.



Another I Spy tab. She looks like she’s up to something…doesn’t she?


One of our favorites of the day…Rembrandt Peale’s ‘Court of Death’. It was THHHHHIIIIIIIISSSSSSS big.


Isora was on my back in my wrap when we passed this one. “Mama Baby” she said. Then she said “Milk”. Yup. Pretty much. Have you ever seen the picture on Pinterest of the baby sucking on a sculpture’s nipple? Yea. That’d be my kid. She’s a big fan. But isn’t it a beautiful portrait. I wish someone would paint a picture of me nursing my babies. Such a sweet and fleeting moment in parenthood.


I love marble sculpture. I blame The David. I wasn’t a fan until I went to Florence. But look at how radiant it is. Also, at this point both children were acting a fool and all I wanted to do was sit and stare at this piece. Oh well. That’s what photos are for.


Diego Rivera’s mural courtyard. My absolute favorite spot in the entire museum. The light is spectacular. But the paintings. The subjects. The COLOR. It’s Everything.


We, the citizens of Detroit, had this genius in our possession for over a decade. And he made this modern masterpiece. I could never tire of looking at it. And I could always find some new story, some new reference, some new meaning. THIS is what art is meant to do.


For some reason this baby always captures my attention. Is it the birth of humanity? The physical embodiment of all the births and life on Earth? Is it my own children or their children? Ugh. I can’t stop thinking about this baby for weeks after I see it.


So I explained to Cedella that the artist that created these paintings was a man named Diego Rivera. And you know what? She thought it was her friend Diego of Animal Rescue fame and she was absolutely thrilled. And then…cause she’s actually 13 not 3…she pretended like she already knew that. Something like “Oh yea, Diego, yea, he totally painted this”. ::sigh::

Aren’t they the cutest in their Art Museum Dresses. I think proper places like this deserve proper outfits. Am I alone in this? Or are jeans pretty standard museum chic these days?


One I Spy involved Cezanne’s skulls. And Cedella thought they were way too cool. Next to Diego’s painting the skulls were definitely her favorite.


Isora was not really digging the museum at all. She didn’t want to go in the wrap and didn’t want to sit in the stroller. She wanted to run and touch and lick things. So we gave her a map to chew on.


This is a real painting. I have seen it on Instagram and other places but I thought it was a graphic design piece. It is a PAINTING. A gigantic one. And it looks like my sister’s good friend Chris. Isora was fascinated.


And then we found this cool little corner in the basement of the Alamo. In the African antiquities section. There was a bench to sit on and nurse Izzie, it was quiet and dark. And there was a video of several different African tribes doing ceremonial dances to honor their ancestors. Let me tell you, I think my girl’s had their first Roots moment. They were move and dancing and spinning like little tribal babies. It was awesome.

The video was only three minutes long but they replayed it for over 20 minutes. Dancing and spinning each and every time. Tracey was smart enough to take a couple of Vine’s of them going to town…

That was worth the price of admission folks. Which by the way is free for kids and free for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne country residents. So really don’t say “I really should visit there someday”. Go tomorrow.

Cause like I said on Facebook after this whole news bomb that the EFM of the city Keyvn Orr was going to sell off the DIA’s prized collection (which will never happen just so we can all remove our undies from our cracks) visit because this IS our city and it’s legacy.

This was once a great city that paid cutting edge artist’s to be in residency. A city that bought Van Gogh and Cezanne and Dega. The Paris of the Midwest.

Go because the DIA is one of the most exciting and eclectic collections in the country, and it’s in your backyard.

Go because Art is Cool.

Just go. You’re welcome.

And if you don’t live in the city of Detroit or the state of Michigan, you should come here. It’s quite lovely. I’ll show you around 😉

Happy Wednesday!!


  1. Ahhh! I love them dancing at the end!

    The Diego Rivera mural is one of my fave things about Michigan. And the fact that he & Frieda stayed here for so long while it was being painted is a great historical moment for our state. Great post, Alexia.
    Kate Cosgrove recently posted..Follow the leader… Cool project in progress

  2. Teresha F says:

    You know how to tease a post! I was a good reader and paid attention and got rewarded with that awesome vine of the tribal babies!
    Teresha F recently posted..Anatomy of a Sick Day #WordfulWednesday

  3. Tracey says:

    A great day at a gorgeous museum. And we had the modern wing pretty much to ourselves. Loved every minute. Thanks for letting me share it with you and the my two favorite little girls.

  4. AnnS says:

    What a lovely day you all had! I agree, a museum like that deserves pretty dresses like that. Go to Paris, you know what I mean, right! They all dress up. Thanks for the reminder of the DIA. I’ve been to the Louvre, the Uffizzi, the Orangerie, the Picasso museum, the Pompidou Centre, the ruins of Rome, the list goes on and on….but I forget the DIA exists. I’m going to set a field trip date to take my kids to the DIA this summer. (And we’re headed to the Art Institute of Chicago on Saturday) We do, indeed, have a gem in the DIA here in Detroit (last I went was the Degas exhibit – had to have been 7 years ago now.)
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  5. Tracey says:

    A few other thoughts…
    First, sorry I didn’t dress up for our day at the museum. Comfortable shoes and dresses don’t necessarily go together.

    Second, that painting TOTALLY looks like Chris. Ha!

    And third, do we think that this threat to sell off the DIA’s collection is real, or is it just Republican posturing. If it’s a real threat, I just don’t have any faith in humanity anymore.

  6. Laura says:

    I love the DIA! I have fond memories of going as a child when we went to visit family. I think the last time I went was probably five years ago when the Ansel Adams exhibit was there. It was beautiful. I love the mural, too! I could look at it forever. Maybe we’ll go with the kids when we’re there this summer. Thanks for the awesome reminder!

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