Founded in Detroit in 1952, and currently located in a quiet neighborhood tucked between I-96 and Tireman and Livernois Avenues, Arts Extended is a 70-year-old project that is a contender for the nation’s longest continuously operating Black arts organization.

Dr. Cledie Taylor was a founding member of Arts Extended in the early 1950s and has been a quietly forceful presence in the Detroit art world since. Widely traveled, she is best known artistically as a metalsmith and sculptor. Dr. Taylor studied with the esteemed metal arts Professor Philip Fike at Wayne State University, with a particular focus on working Niello, a traditional black silver alloy, and she received her Ph.D. in Art History from Antioch College. Now in her mid-90s, she talks precisely and energetically about upcoming exhibitions and new projects such as a “beautifully illustrated” neighborhood newsletter and a library for the Arts Extended archives.

Shirley Woodson was the 2021 Kresge Eminent Artist, Detroit’s major award for artists. In the monograph accompanying the award, Woodson describes the immense impact of joining Arts Extended as a young artist in the late 1950s. “I was suddenly in a professional environment as a Black artist surrounded by other Black artists,” Woodson said. “It was a moment to be cherished. I can still run through the names.” Woodson also took every workshop she could with Dr. Taylor, including ones on collecting and traditional African art, and credits her as a “master educator.”

In 1974, Woodson was a founding member of the Michigan branch of the National Conference of Artists (NCA) with her husband, Edsel Reid, and five other arts professionals and collectors. They were inspired by the vision of connecting Detroit’s vibrant Black art and activist ecosystem of the time with peer networks in other parts of the country. Now nearly 50 years later, the NCA Michigan is still active, with Woodson remaining central to the project.

Marian Stephens was a couple of years ahead of Shirley Woodson in the art program at Wayne State University and joined Arts Extended immediately after graduating in 1956. Her elder brother Richard Kinney, another significant Detroit artist and later the highly respected Director of Publications at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, was already a part of the group and “got her in.” Like Taylor and Woodson, Stephens is a highly respected educator who has influenced countless younger artists.

“From the Past to the Present”
Opening Reception & Artist Talk:
Saturday, February 3, 2023 | 1PM – 5PM

Arts Extended is open Saturdays only from 1PM – 5PM