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The Mission: Transformative Solidarity Through Art

Powerful Art Installation in Capitol Park Points to the Action of the Declaration of Independence


In 2026, the Declaration of Independence turns 250 years old, and this has incited a unique storytelling initiative that currently makes its debut in downtown Detroit.

Running through July 12, ten large-scale sculptures created by 11 local artists are on display in Capitol Park encouraging public dialogue on how communities can create a future that works for the benefit of everyone.

It is the works of The Stories of Us and is driven by the simple words in the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ reveal the promise of America: the twin ideals of equity and solidarity.Screen Shot 2024 06 12 at 12.52.57 PM

“These are two ideas that shape our very identity as a country—and yet they weren’t a reality in 1776 and they aren’t our reality now,” said Ashley Shaw Scott Adjaye, co-founder of The Stories of Us. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ reveals the promise of America: the twin ideals of equity and solidarity. Two ideas that shape our very identity as a country—and yet they weren’t a reality in 1776 and they aren’t our reality now.”

The ambitious exhibition – presented by Bedrock’s Decked Out Detroit and the Downtown Detroit Partnership – features artists who were selected for their talent and ability to share their lived experiences through their work. Each artist was given a theme to which they uniquely applied their own stories and experiences.

The ten themes are meant to center the Black experience to help all of us to deepen our understanding of our shared past and present.

Art acts as a human language that speaks to our core,” said Adjaye. “This is about sharing who we are as people and connecting on a common ground to reimagine a future of equity and solidarity.

For his sculpture, Artist Senghor Reid collaborated with his mother Shirley Woodson to create a photo collage representing his own family’s narrative of emancipation.

Khary Mason, former Detroit Police homicide detective, used the medium to tell his own story about unknowingly supporting failures in our system, all the while thinking he was doing the community and its people right.Screen Shot 2024 06 12 at 1.49.00 PM

The exhibition will travel to various cities replicating this approach of choosing ten local artists to execute on the ten themes. It will then culminate on July 4, 2026, in Washington DC with fifty sculptures.

“Our world is polarized right now, and there are so many important nuances in between the two opposites that are getting lost,” said Adjaye. “The Stories of Us will help pull out these nuances by offering this multiplicity of thought across the ten themes, all playing out differently as they adhere to and represent each artist’s story.”

The country needs a refresh right now, and art is the perfect medium,” said artist Peter Daniel Bernal, whose sculpture tells his own story as a Chicano Mestizo struggling to find where he fits within American culture.

Detroit was chosen to debut the exhibit purposefully.

“When we think about emancipation, so many people came from the south to Detroit to begin new lives, it’s just fitting,” said Adjaye. “The artist community here is so rich and there is so much talent, and each of these artists has a story to tell.”

The group of artists worked to develop their sculptures in a shared setting in the Book Tower, which was purposeful as well.

“Their very personal stories played out in front of each other, and the artists formed their own connections with one another, which is the crux of our mission… this connectivity through our stories,” said Adjaye.Screen Shot 2024 06 12 at 12.53.19 PM

“As we worked in this community-like environment, we became friends,” said Bernal.

They will continue this practice of working in shared spaces in the cities the exhibit travels to as well.

The creative foundation of each sculpture is a large-scale drum – a talking drum – which deepens the connectivity premise.

“The talking drum was used to bring messages from village to village for centuries,” said Adjaye. “And the instrument crosses all cultures and geography. Across time, drums have brought people together for storytelling, celebration and expression.”

The Stories of Us plans to expand its art education programs throughout the United States in the coming months and years by creating a curriculum for schools and more.

The Stories of Us Artists include:


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