City of Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, TCF Center, and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy reveal large-scale memorial art installation to help community heal from loss in the pandemic


City of Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, TCF Center, and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy reveal large-scale memorial art installation to help community heal from loss in the pandemic

Reporter note: Correction has been made to the installation's end date. It will be on display through August 2022. 

  • More than 1,200 regional residents created personal pieces of art in honor of their losses
  • World-renowned artist Sonya Clark led the project designed to help people heal from all forms of loss associated with the pandemic
  • The installation will be revealed to the media at noon Tuesday, August 31, and be on display through August 2022
  • Residents can still participate in the project through the fall

DETROIT (August 27, 2021) - The City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, Cranbrook Art Museum, the TCF Center, and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will present a large-scale art installation to the press at noon Tuesday, August 31 that features hundreds of colorful fabric pouches created by southeast Michigan residents to help them heal from the depth of loss felt during the pandemic.

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The public art installation was designed to provide support and healing for residents who have experienced all kinds of loss – such as lost loved ones, lost homes, lost jobs, and lost hope — during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is open to all regional residents who experienced physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, and environmental loss. "Covid has taken a profound toll on our region and many Detroiters and Metro Detroiters share a common grief over the loss of a loved one," said Mayor Mike Duggan. “We hope this very personal memorial will help in the healing process and serve as an opportunity for people across our region to understand and support one another. I'm grateful to Rochelle Riley and our partners at TCF Center, Cranbrook, and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for helping to make the vision for this memorial a reality."

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Mark Wallace, president, and CEO of the Conservancy said it is fitting that the Riverwalk and Dequindre Cut played a role in this important project that means so much to so many.“We are proud of the important role the Riverwalk and the Dequindre Cut played during the pandemic,” he said. “People see our public spaces as a place of comfort and respite. The Healing Memorial project is yet another step we all take together to help us heal during this challenging time.” The Healing Memorial is located at the north end of the TCF center at the corner of Congress and Washington Boulevard on Level 3.

Working media are invited to view the installation for the first time at noon Tuesday, August 31. Representatives of the City of Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and TCF will make brief remarks. Parking is available on the roof deck and park near Elevator 1. Entrance to the roof deck is on Congress between 2nd and 3rd streets. Questions? 312-933-5855.

Detroit ACE will host a making station in Spirit Plaza from 1PM to 3PM following Tuesday’s unveiling. People can drop by, socially distanced, to make a pouch there. The project is a living installation, meaning residents anywhere in the region can continue to make pouches at their churches, in their homes or at their own making stations through July 2022. The pouches can be dropped off at Valade Park, 2670 E. Atwater from noon to 4 on Sundays through September 30. After that, pouches should be mailed to:

The Healing Memorial
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1720
Detroit, MI 48243
c/o of Rachel Frierson

The Healing Memorial installation is created by world-renowned artist Sonya Clark and curated by Laura Mott, senior curator of Contemporary Art and Design, of Cranbrook Art Museum. Clark, who studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art, has enacted this project as “The Beaded Prayer Project” internationally over the past two decades. This version of the installation will be the first one dedicated to a specific city. "At the heart of this project is the power of people coming together to offer something seemingly small but ultimately powerful and wholly collective,” Clark said. “Each beaded prayer is the seed of a person's intent and memory. Together we make a garden of our humanity, an ecosystem providing sustenance and succor."

art installation3

The Healing Memorial project kicked off June 19 and throughout the summer, the project hosted more than 30 Making Stations throughout the metro Detroit region. So far, community members have created more than 1,200 memorial pouches, colorful, hand-made personal dedications that include a note or intention and wrapped in fabric and adorned with a bead.

Together, these pouches comprise the dramatic installation that will be displayed at the TCF Center.
The success of the project led organizers to extend the project and allow for additional submissions. The next submission deadline for pouches is October 15, but submissions will be accepted through next summer. “Residents across our community experienced loss during the pandemic,” said Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit. “This unique project allows all of us to express our own individual sense of loss in a beautiful, creative and uplifting way. Each one of the fabric pouches in the installation tells a unique and personal story.”

To learn how to make your own memorial pouch, visit to watch a video from artist Sonya Clark.

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About the City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship:
Established in 2019, the City’s Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship oversees the City’s investment in and support of one of the best and brightest creative workforces in the country. The Office also works to ensure that opportunities to experience arts and culture in all its forms are available to residents year-round across the city. More information can be found at

About Cranbrook Art Museum:
Cranbrook Art Museum is located at 39221 Woodward Avenue, on the 319-acre historic landmark campus of Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Art Museum opened in 1930 and is one of the earliest institutions in the United States dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art. It originates and presents exhibitions and public programs and collects objects in the areas of modern and contemporary architecture, art, crafts, and design.

About the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy:
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to develop public access to Detroit’s riverfront and serve as an anchor for economic development. As the permanent stewards of the Riverwalk and the Dequindre Cut, the Conservancy is responsible for raising the funds needed for construction, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the public spaces located along the riverfront. The ultimate vision is for the Conservancy to develop
five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle. Visit for more information.

About the TCF Center:
TCF Center is the 17th largest convention center in the United States. Built by the City of Detroit, it was originally opened in 1960. In 2009 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) was established by the state of Michigan and leased the facility from the City of Detroit to own and operate it for 33 years. The five-member Authority Board consists of one representative from each of five government agencies – the City of Detroit, State of Michigan, and the three metro-Detroit
counties of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb.