Detroit Performs


Socially Conscious Art

In this episode of Detroit Performs: Poet Tawana Petty pours her soul into her performance. MEND Jewelry helps women survivors of abuse on their journeys of recovery. And Detention Nation's lens on the immigration system. Episode 611

AIRED: September 19, 2017 | 0:25:42

DJ: In this episode of Detroit Performs,

a poet pours her soul into her performances.

DJ: An organization helps women survivors

of abuse on their journeys of recovery.

DJ: And an artist's lens on the

immigration system.

DJ: It's all ahead on this edition

of Detroit Performs.


ANNOUNCER: Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by:

ANNOUNCER: MASCO Corporation is proud to manufacture

innovative and environmentally friendly

products for the home.

Delta faucets, KraftMaid and Merillat cabinets,

and BEHR brand paints have all been designed

with you in mind.

MASCO and its family of companies,

serving Michigan communities since 1929.

ANNOUNCER: Funding is also provided by the

Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs

and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And by contributions to your PBS station from

viewers like you.

Thank you.



Hello, and welcome to Detroit Performs.

I'm your host DJ Oliver, and today I'm taking you

to the Art&Soul Exhibition,

showing at the Pontiac Creative Arts Center.

I'll be talkin' to someone about the exhibition

later in the show.

But first up, let's meet a poet who uses her words to

take on important issues facing our community.

Here's Tawana Petty.


We are Detroiters The black mecca of possibility

TAWANA: Art, it can be resistance.

Art can be visionary.

Art has a role in social justice,

and if you're an artist you have a responsibility

to create the world you want to see.

Also articulate the truth and what's happening.

I grew up in Detroit, born and raised.

I write every day.

At least five minutes in the morning.

The impact that art has had on me inspires

me to do it.

You know, I had kind of a tough childhood, and so,

I remember escaping to my journal.

And so, I wanna create that opportunity,

particularly, for young people, but for everyone.

Like, there is meditation and healing in writing,

and creating, and getting your story out.

I used to just write about anything,

whether it be relationships.

But a lot of my poems are like political, now.

It's like I'm--I feel like I 'm responding

to the moment.

And so, even though I have like some art that I still

create that talks about relationships and it talks

about silly things, most times I'm engaging

in what's happening in the world.

I'm performing at 9405 John R.

It's being launched as a bookstore this week, actually.

So, I'm happy to do open mic performance to kind of

kick it off for them.

I know I'm gonna do a poem that I kinda do as a intro

poem, that is like my way of introducing myself to

people, and it's called, "If I Never Had a Sin".

And it's basically just talking about,

like--these are the things that I've been through,

but had I not gone through those things

then I wouldn't be here.

Took me a while before I woke up and stop pitying me

But took responsibility for my actions But the

fact is, I'm still growin', still learnin' as I go

And day by day is a struggle A constant juggle

between my home life and work

Now, I'm gonna do a poem that talks about, like,

loving Detroit.


Because I do.


A lot like you have been Discarded like debris

Deemed useless to naysayers and convicters

Yet you keep rising Clinging to vitality You

refuse to allow statistics to dictate your destiny

And the media will channel your journey

And then, I'll talk about police brutality,

particularly young black women who are missing

from the narrative.

They bury us in plain sight Our brutalized bodies crash

to the pavement Like shattered dreams

And then I'm gonna talk a little bit about love.

But you do have to be a model for my son

Be willin' to make sacrifices for two,

not just one 'Cause we come as a package

And I'm not willin' to unwrap this for just anybody

You've got to--

I try to speak from my perspective.

Use "I" statements mostly.

But also, mostly young black children

and women, particularly.

And I do, in some of my poetry,

I talk to young black men.

I talk to people of color.

And I also just talk about marginalized

and oppressed communities.

She travels through live like a tourist

Uncomfortable in her own home

Inside her own skin Tormented by the demons within

her own psyche She's running from herself

Working her fingers to the bone for wealth she'll

never find pleasure in having

Stress and waking up are synonyms

And she hates kissing him but marital obligation

says that she must One-sided lust is the sum

of a union she's already mentally divorced from

A lotta times the poems come from an emotional place,

and so, I try to think about what made me create

the poem in the first place.

And a lotta times, unfortunately,

if the poem is somethin' that's challenging,

those conditions still exist, and so,

it's easy to stay in tune with what the art was about.

So, it hasn't really been difficult.

I hope someday that those poems will be, you know,

a thing of the past and I won't have to--it'll be

something I say, you know, historically.

Historically, I wrote this poem about, like,

racism and sexism.

But that's not a thing anymore.

I'm hoping that we'll get there,

and I think art plays a role in that.

The consciousness is shifting and folks

wanna hear art.

They wanna hear artists respond and articulate,

number one, what's really happening, and number two,

a vision for where we go forward.

And so, now it's like, it's a movement moment,

and it's a prime opportunity for my art to

have a voice now, where it didn't,

so much, a decade ago.

I would be writing poetry about social justice and

those things, and folks didn't wanna hear that.

You know, this was post-racial America.

And like, we didn't have those issues.

I think about the role of art

and poetry in like the Black Arts Movement.

And then, I feel that responsibility to nurture

younger people to know that they don't have to

wait until tomorrow.

Young people have a voice now,

and it can contribute now.

And it's not when you grow up.

Or in the future.

It's now.

I have some art that speaks particularly to

young black girls and young black boys.

And it's basically telling them that, you know,

you're gonna be told that you're not something.

And, you know, I want to tell you that you are.

You're much more than what you've heard about yourself.

Black child Born to black child

They will drag you through the mud But stay resilient

Carve your mark into the wind Turn your nose

up at the naysayers

And leave the world better Than you entered it

I think that art is a way to respirit people,

particularly young people.

If they feel like they have a voice and their

voice is valuable, then they start to behave

in a particular manner.

We all have a responsibility to create

a more humane society.

And whether you're an artist,

whether you're an educator,

whether you're a mom or a father,

or you're a student.

No matter who you are, you have a role and a

responsibility to create a better society.

To leave places better than you entered them.

Or at least don't harm them.

And so, I would ask that, whomever you are,

take on that responsibility.

You are Detroit The road to progression The mirror

image of endurance And you hold the key

To taking back our humanity

Thank you.


You can learn more about Tawana Petty,

as well as all the artists we feature on

Mend on the Move helps women who are survivors

of abuse on their journeys of recovery.

The women make jewelry that channels the

resilient soul of Detroit, while also building

confidence and inner strength to help with

the next chapter in their lives.



I'm good.

That is huge.

I'm awesome.

What are you doing now?

JOANNE: The real inspiration for me

starting Mend on the Move was, in fact,

my own story of abuse.

I grew up being a survivor of childhood abuse,

sexual abuse.

And I really didn't begin to heal from that until

I was an adult.

And it's been a long journey towards healing.

In learning a lot about human trafficking

and abuse, I learned that the majority of women who are

abused as adults were first abused as children.

And they never had the opportunity to heal,

and that has left them vulnerable to

further abuse and addiction as adults.

I saw how effective it was to empower women by having

them help themselves.

I've always been a creative person,

and I was a jewelry artist before.

And that's the one thing I thought I could

bring to the table was creating jewelry.

So, Mend on the Move was born.


Every piece of jewelry that we make has a

meaning behind it.

And it all goes along with addiction or sex

trafficking, or whatever is going on with our lives.

It's more than just creating jewelry.

It's communion.

It's like just being in a circle of women who have

all experienced the same thing and are going--are

taking the same journey together.

WOMAN 1: In Jesus, amen.




AMY: Samaritas House, Heartline,

likes to invite all women,

with all walks of life, regardless of their

background, to give them the opportunity to go

through our programming here.

Our population is very unique.

With having offenders in here,

along with homeless women, in addition to human

trafficking survivors, which is how I originally

met Joanne from Mend on the Move.

I have seen their personal growth expand

a lot since Mend on the Move came in here.

Because when you're in this environment and

you're set to do the programming it doesn't

allow for a whole lot of creativity.

This allows for that.


When I first got to Heartline I had nothin'.

And Miss Joanne and Mend on the Move helped me

focus and sent me on my journey.

Mend on the Move speaks on how women out here have

been through a little struggle .

And how lives can change.

And that means a lot because, me personally,

I've been through a lot.

And I've changed a whole lot since I started

workin', and since I've been a

resident at Heartline.

Joanne's amazing.

She makes us feel worthy, wanted.

I'm, inside, a great person.

But I have not been a great person for

a lotta years.

And I have a lot of strength and abilities

that I have buried.

And she has brought me out of my shell.

Had they not been here, I wouldn't be as far

as long in my recovery as I am today.

LORITA: Mend on the Move and the facility in which

I reside has tremendously helped me in strengthening

who I am.

Helping me to rehabilitate my mind, my body.

You know, my thinking, my actions.

It gives us a chance to be a part of something.

Because sometimes, in life when you make that

stumble, you don't become a part of something that

means anything. (laughs)

Or something that's good.

But now you have that opportunity to be a part

of something that actually has a meaning.

Something that's gonna be helpful.

Something big.

And Mend on the Move is gonna be big.


JOANNE: When the women see their jewelry

packaged, that's a pretty empowering thing.

Because they are actually--they've created

something that is worthy of someone purchasing it.

And that's an empowering thing for women who,

really, have come from a place where

they don't feel any worthiness at all,

and can't see themselves ever being worth anything.

These women that were once voiceless,

now have a voice.


JOANNE: With Mend on the Move,

what we really, like, try to focus on is the

positive aspect.

The hopeful aspect.

Because, honestly, these women don't want to be

known for just their stories and their past.

They're trying to move beyond that.

And it's not easy.

These women deserve a second chance.

They deserve opportunity.

And really, grace in their life.


JOANNE: I think being at the market

is--it's perfect for us.

Eastern Market.

Because we work with women in a recovery program

that's actually located in Detroit.

Our products are made from automotive parts.

The whole idea of using the automotive parts,

to me, was symbolic.

Detroit, is a real --in itself is a survivor,

and is such a comeback city.

And that's what our women are all about.

They're overcomers.

They are tough.

They're resilient.

And they really are symbolic of Detroit.


LORITA: Something so beautiful can come

from something. (laughs)

You know, from the automotive world.

That is the creative part that I enjoy about it.

With the customers, a when they do see the

jewelry, and they not only think about the women that

they are helping.

They also think about how they are contributing back

to a city that's comin' back alive also.

We have a--we have one called a "Tiny Spark",

which allows you to know that at the end of the

day, it doesn't take a big blast, or a big boom.

Just a little tiny spark gives you hope.


WOMAN 2: Change is possible.

And as long as you have good people in your corner

or someone there to, like, help you motivate

yourself, then change is always good.

It makes us feel like we can--we're starting to get

on our feet, on our own.

We're achieving things that we worked for.

And it makes you feel wonderful.

We are helping women that we don't even know,

that we've never seen.

Some of 'em have never seen us.

Or know of us.

Helping those that were abused or,

may be still goin' through what they're goin' through.

This jewelry symbolizes that things do change.



What's up, guys.

I am here with Melissa Parks, founder and executive

director of Art&Soul Program, here.

How you doin', Melissa?



Thanks for having me.

So, tell our viewers out there in Detroit Performs

a little bit about Art&Soul and what it does.

MELISSA: We reach out to photographers.

And I share my passion for children and art.

And they understand that this is an important mission.

DJ: Mm-hmm.

MELISSA: And so, they take the children's photos

and capture the soul of the child so that we as

viewers can really see the children.

And each one is done by a different

award-winning photographer.

Local photographer.


MELISSA: And so, it makes the exhibit--you know,

when people come up to it, there's no labels.

DJ: Right.

MELISSA: There's no label attached to these children.

Just like the children in our homes,

we don't have labels.

DJ: Mm-hmm.


It's pretty palpable.

I must say I've been around watching all these

different photos here, and they've inspired me.

I know, particularly the one about

Shania and Joshua.

That's a particular case I want you to share

with the viewers out there.

So, Shania and Joshua are siblings.

And they're looking to be together.

And when you meet them, they laugh, they talk

they hug each other.

DJ: Mm-hmm.

MELISSA: And it makes more real their love.

DJ: Mm-hmm.

MELISSA: And they already are enough.

And so, we need people to take in these stories

and these images.

And think about, what would it look like to

have a child in their home?

DJ : So, Art&Soul, does it travel?

Does this travel?

Is this--

It travels to a different location every month.


In hopes that over a year's time people see it

more than once.

DJ: Mm-hmm.

So, what's been the impact of the audiences that have

seen these exhibitions?

MELISSA: People are moved to action.

50% of the children were matched with a

pre-adoptive family from last year.

Which is huge.

And we've been to two success adoptions--


--since then, and two more on the horizon.

All right.

MELISSA: And we feel that this is important work,

and that the children are then surrounded with a

family and a network that can help them reach their

hopes and dreams.

DJ: Absolutely.

So, we like that.


So, thank you, Melissa Parks.

For talking to us--

Thank you. Thank you.

--we appreciate that.

Thank you.

All right, guys.

Now check out some upcoming events happening

in and around the "D".



DJ: Up next, we take a look at the

immigration system through an artist lens.


(indistinct chatter)

Nobody's never see what's goin' on in the

detention hall.


NARRATOR: But Douglas Menjivar witnessed first-hand

what happens in immigrant detention facilities.

(door clicking)

NARRATOR: The El Salvador native was held for

two years after being detained by

Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Texas.

And now, I stand outside.

I wanna explain a lotta people what's goin' on

in the detention.

This is my purpose.


NARRATOR: To further that purpose Menjivar

joined Sin Huellas.

A group of activists and artists.

Using detainees' stories and an artist's eye,

they created Detention Nation.

Which simulates what life is like for undocumented

immigrants held, many without due process,

at detainment facilities in the United States.

These are actual people that have been affected.

NARRATOR: To remind visitors of that,

members of the collective, like artist Delilah Montoya,

created ghost-like silhouettes

to represent detainees.

DELILAH : I was interested in making a statement that

wasn't necessarily documentary but had an

emotion or a feeling to it.

Where it began to suggest where the population was,

where the detainees were.

In that, they're not here, nor there.

They were kind of caught in between the system itself.

(door squeaking)

(door shutting)

NARRATOR: Museo De Las Americas in Denver

is the second venue in the country to host the exhibit.

It immerses visitors in the sights and sounds of a

detention center.

(door closing)

NARRATOR: People wrapped in Mylar blankets.

The murmur of voices.

And doors clanking shut.

(door shutting)

NARRATOR: Everything is under surveillance.

Museum curator, Maruca Salazar said the work is

meant to emphasize the impact the immigration

system can have on people.

Ancient relationships are very crucial in migration

patterns, well, might be erased by humans.

But they have been here for thousands of years.

So, we can't really say, we have nothing to do--or

this is not part of our culture,

or this is not part of our historical tradition,

or memory.

It is very much a part of us.

And specifically, here in Colorado,

because Colorado is like a migration paddle.

It's a place of transition between the west

and the east.

So, right here at the center of the country,

this is the place where we really need to pay

attention to what's goin' on.

(door clicking)

MARUCA: I you have never been in a detention

center, you will truly experience the

idea of incarceration.

You know, one tone floor, you know, wire fences,

flashing cameras picking up every movement that you do.

All of those things impact you psychologically.

And so, when you leave here,

you feel like you been sitting in a

very oppressive space.

NARRATOR: That oppressive treatment still plagues

former detainee, Douglas Menjivar.

He was sexually assaulted twice in detention,

and now suffers from PTSD.

He described crowded conditions,

limited access to medical care, and no privacy.

When you wanna go for the bathroom or something,

everybody see you while you do it.

And when you need to take a shower,

everybody see you when you take a shower.

NARRATOR: His account of the poor conditions are

echoed in letters written by other detainees,

which are included in the exhibit.

One even described it as "El Infierno," Hell.

(door closing)

NARRATOR: Menjivar's time in detention

was rife with uncertainty.

Which he said is typical for detainees.

(door buzzing)

NARRATOR: He didn't know when his case

would be heard by a judge.

Or if he would be released.

One day, a guard simply presented him with a form

written in English.

Sign this paper.

I can't sign it because I don't know what it-- .

And it's in English.

I don't speak very well English.

Said, don't worry.

This paper is for you get out for this right now.

I don't believe her because it's ICE people,

you know.

NARRATOR: Ultimately, he signed the document

and was released.

But why was he released?

Is a good question.

We don't know.


NARRATOR: The former police officer does know

he's afraid to return to his native El Salvador.

Since his release from detention,

he has secured a work permit and is awaiting a

hearing with ICE.

I don't want any more people sexually assaulted

in the detention.

Taking more immigrants.

Because in the detention nobody take care of you.


(door closing)

(indistinct chatter)

And that wraps it up for this edition of Detroit Performs.

As always, for more arts and culture head to where you'll find featured

videos, blogs, and information of

upcoming arts events.

Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Like to thank Art&Soul and the Pontiac Creative Arts

Center for letting us share this beautiful

and important exhibition right here on the show.

Until next Tuesday, get out there

and show the world how Detroit Performs, y'all!

I'm DJ Oliver.

Thanks for watching, guys.


ANNOUNCER: Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by:

ANNOUNCER: MASCO Corporation is proud to

manufacture innovative and environmentally friendly

products for the home.

Delta faucets, KraftMaid and Merillat cabinets,

and BEHR brand paints have all been designed

with you in mind.

MASCO and its family of companies,

serving Michigan communities since 1929.

ANNOUNCER: Funding is also provided by the

Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs,

and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And by contributions to your PBS station from

viewers like you.

Thank you.





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