Art Heist Detroit is proposed by Andria Watha

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

In late 2014, I decided to clear out all the subscriptions in my RSS reader and start anew. I wanted to keep it lean and follow only those with enriching content. One of my top favorites quickly became Lenscratch. I spent weeks reading old Lenscratch articles. I came across a post from March 2014 featuring Jennifer Schwartz and the Crusade Engagement Grant, and it instantly grabbed my attention. I spent months looking for a way to fund my project and after reviewing the Crusade for Art website and reading the grant guidelines I knew our missions aligned.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

My project started from a desire to gift my images to the people who live in, visit and contribute to the city I take pleasure documenting. Searching the internet for inspiration, I came across Zoe Strauss, a photographer based in Philadelphia who photographs her city, hangs unframed prints of her work under a highway underpass, and allows people to take the images they want. She inspired my own project and Art Heist Detroit was born. 

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Art X Detroit 2015, presented by The Kresge Foundation, was by far the most engaging event I have attended. Featuring Kresge fellows from the 2013-2014 calendar years, this 10-day event provided an explosion of art and culture. Various art genres were presented through museums, artist and panel discussions, screenings, multimedia performances, concerts, an all day gallery crawl with over 25 leading galleries participating, and even an artist conversation over a bonfire! The icing on the cake – every event was free to the public!

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

There was a time I found art intimating and it took a long time to call myself an artist. I felt galleries were places the rich and famous went to for an evening of cocktails, finger foods and to buy expensive fine art. I still remember the changing point for me. There was an opening exhibit and artist discussion I wanted to attend but was to intimated/nervous to go alone. So I grabbed my sister and dragged her with me. While the delicious cocktails and yummy finger foods were present, it was not filled with the stereotypical crowd I expected. As a matter of fact, it was filled with people from all economic classes, race, religion, and ages. I had an amazing night and experience.

I hope to do my small part to help break down the barrier I once felt by offering people an easy way to start collecting art through Art Heist Detroit.

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