Inspiring students through the Eastern Market

In September of 2019, visual arts students ventured to the Eastern Market in Downtown Detroit to take inspiration from murals throughout the area to use in their own artwork. The market holds an annual event entitled Murals in the Market, in which both local and global muralists convene to paint the walls surrounding the market.


Ms. Brownson, a visual arts teacher at BHHS and a coordinator of the trip, regarded the Murals in the Market as an opportunity “to give students a real world experience about what an actual artist would be doing.” 


The students also had individual motivations for attending the trip. Serena Vukovich, a senior in Mrs. Brownson’s photography class, said, “I really like art in general, so I thought it was a good opportunity to see new things in a different area.” Her favorite part of Murals in the Market was not necessarily the murals themselves, but the experience of taking photos of the environment and spending time with friends.


“I like more grimy type like a real photo. I didn’t really take a lot of pictures of the murals but I mostly like to take pictures of the area and environment I’m in,” Vukovich said.


Senior Elijah Woods, a student in Ms. Pasternak’s photography class who also went on the Murals in the Market trip, conveyed that his focus for his experience was exploring the different types of artwork, eating a variety of foods, and hanging out with friends.


A mural in particular that caught his eye was “a fox that had some wave things fading away and had birds on the foxes,” said Woods. “I really love animals and the foxes looked really realistic so it was really cool to see that.”


Brownson said the market itself had a diverse set of activities such as musicians, people riding skateboards, the market itself, and murals, which could inspire in different ways.


“So there is perspective of what [students] were looking at. . .and then I love seeing the other perspectives from the AP kids, the imaging kids, and the ceramics kids; how they were looking at things differently,” said Brownson.


Leah Rutt, alumna of Andover High School, is currently working in art management and production work at 1XRun Inner State Gallery, and always loved creating art throughout her school career. While in college, that admiration for art evolved into wanting to work with artists and with business. 


On her experience at Andover and its effect on her career in the arts field, Rutt said, “I really enjoyed my art classes and really bonded with Ms. Basirico. She was straightforward with me and really challenged me to be the best artist I could be. She also took us on some really cool field trips to places like MOCAD which really opened up my world.”


Rutt and the organizers at 1XRun worked 12-14 hour days year-round on the Murals in the Market event to make it a success. However, Rutt said that the lengthy hours were well worth the accomplishment for the community.


“We want everyone to feel welcome because we are all shareholders and benefit from the health and growth of the market. Since the start of the festival, attendance has more than tripled annually and dozens of new businesses have opened up,” said Rutt.


In addition to benefiting the market, the event put more artists on a national platform. 


“Many of our artists have gone on the paint in mural festivals all around the world and have said that the festival really launched their careers,” said Rutt.


As an artist herself in highschool, Rutt recommends any students who are interested in the arts to pursue it as a career. 


“If you are serious about being a creative, start thinking about your practice as a business and a brand. You can make a lot of money as an artist but you have to be smart and work really hard. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s fun and challenging and gives you freedom,” said Rutt.


The Eastern Market trip for visual arts students has been deemed a sizable success according to Mrs. Brownson. 


“The trip was great, [turning] out better than I thought. When I came back, seeing the excitement on everybody’s faces, hearing all the different stories, and also the students taking the pictures and seeing their work was my favorite part.”