DIA Inside|Out art installation decorates MCC

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 10:00 AM

C&G Newspapers
C&G Newspapers

DIA Inside|Out art installation decorates MCC

“I love this painting,” said Deborah Armstrong, associate director of academic development in the Center for Teaching and Learning at Macomb Community College, about artist Reginald Marsh’s “Savoy Ballroom.” Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


MACOMB COUNTY — Every time Deborah Armstrong talks to students about the painting “Savoy Ballroom” by artist Reginald Marsh, she has them take out their cellphones and play a song that comes to mind.

“I get a lot of jazz,” said Armstrong, the associate director of academic development in the Center for Teaching and Learning at Macomb Community College.

She also makes sure to have students look at the different facial expressions of the people in the painting, which shows them dancing the Lindy Hop at the Harlem club.

“Savoy Ballroom” is one of nine art replicas that will be on display at Macomb Community College until late-October as part of the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside|Out program. The public is welcome to view the pieces on exhibit outside in various spots at South, Center and East Campus. In addition, DIA and college officials are offering free tours to learn more about the reproductions. The pieces are designed to be outside in the rain and sun.

Two tours were held Sept. 13 and Sept. 17 at South Campus in Warren. Two other tours are scheduled at noon Oct. 11 and Oct. 15 at Center Campus, 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township. The group will meet in front of the Lorenzo Cultural Center.

On Sept. 13, Armstrong was among several individuals who attended a tour with DIA volunteer docent David Galli, a Warren resident. Armstrong sent out an email to instructors to invite them and their classes on the tour. English instructor Nicole Castle-Kelly responded by bringing students from her English 1180 course.

“I saw Deb’s email about the DIA doing this. I wanted us to get out and experience this,” Castle-Kelly said. “I like for my students to get out and do different things.”

To earn extra credit, the students were given an assignment to answer several questions about the artwork, including what was interesting to them about it and how they would describe the places depicted in the images.

“This really drew them in, for sure,” Castle-Kelly said of “Savoy Ballroom.” “I think it’s something they can relate to a little more. They’re dancing and having fun.”

“Marsh liked to capture the vibrant scene of the nightlife,” Galli said. “He loved New York City.”

The other replicas at South Campus are: “Ford Rouge Plant (from Dix Rd. Bridge),” by Russ Marshall; “Asafo Flag,” Fante art, by Unknown Artist; and “Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket,” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The address to South Campus is 14500 E. 12 Mile Road.

At the first stop, Galli talked about “Nocturne in Black and Gold.” He asked the group their thoughts on the piece.

“Does this picture look clear? No, and this is what the artist was going for,” Galli said. “This was done in 1875. He’s an American now working in Europe hanging around all the impressionists. He wants you to put your own depth into this painting.

“This was at a time when people are still liking the traditional way of painting. Everything was exact likenesses,” Galli said.

So, when art critic John Ruskin accused Whistler of throwing a pot of paint into the public’s face with “Nocturne in Black and Gold,” Whistler took him to court and won.

When discussing the “Ford Rouge Plant (from Dix Rd. Bridge)” replica, Galli mentioned Marshall, a photographer born in 1940, “picked up photography in his teenage years.”

“This is blurry. He wanted to capture the industraliness of the city,” Galli said. “This power plant had an explosion and several fatalities.”

Replicas at Center Campus are: “Bookshop: Hebrew Books, Holy Days Books,” by Ben Shahn; “Portrait of Postman Roulin,” by Vincent van Gogh; “Saint Jerome in His Study,” by Jan van Eyck; and “The Recitation,” by Thomas Dewing.

“Still Life: A Letter Rack,” by Edwardt Collyer is on display at East Campus, located at 21901 Dunham Road in Clinton Township.

For more information about the Inside|Out program, visit