Detroit artist Ndubisi Okoye has completed his new mural on a building along the south side of Eight Mile Road near Livernois as part of the fledgling “Art on 8” initiative that aims to bring more art to the region’s most infamous throughway.
“The piece is called Detroit is a Black Woman,” Okoye told me. “The line or the metaphor comes from a poem that I wrote about Detroit. I compared it to a black woman because they’re resilient, beautiful, strong, just everything that I see in Detroit.
“I thought that would be a powerful statement and cool, to represent two things at once.”
The mural fills most of the east-facing, 80-foot by 15.5-foot wall of the building at 7115 W. Eight Mile Road. The structure is currently undergoing a complete gutting and renovation by owner Ramiz Almass, who owns the Fresh Fish House chain.
The work mixes black spray paint with colorful swatches of exterior paint that convey energy and dynamism, pattern, creation, melody and musicality. The latter is a hat-tip to the proximity to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge just a couple blocks away.
“That’s the oldest jazz club in the world, so I think that’s very important to use in the piece,” Okoye said.
The work was completed earlier this week with help from volunteers from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, which made the mural possible through a $5,800 grant, and from the Eight Mile Boulevard Association, which is sponsoring the “Art on 8” program.
Okoye, who is known for his mural on the building that houses the Our/Detroit vodka micro-distillery in southwest Detroit, said this is his sixth mural, fourth in Detroit and largest outdoor mural to date.
“I think it looks better than it does on paper, honestly. I looks amazing.”