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CCS Students Create Interactive Art for Little Caesars Arena

Comerica Arch Thumb

The CCS programming for designers course is taught by Michael Evans with students creating interactive art inside Little Caesars Arena

A partnership between Olympia Development of Michigan, Ilitch Charities and the College for Creative Studies creates opportunities for art students to put their stamp on Detroit through several new art installations in and around Little Caesars Arena.

The District Detroit announced in January that several groups of CCS students would create original, public artwork in the Detroit community. As part of the hands-on learning initiative, Ilitch Charities and Olympia Development together donated $800,000 to support the CCS art projects.

Since the beginning of the fall 2017 term, CCS students have been immersing themselves in the various parts of The District Detroit to understand the area’s history and to gather community demographics. 

Upcoming projects include a sculpture installation, which will be visible from Woodward Avenue, and an interactive art installation near the arena’s Comerica entrance.

Students enrolled the college’s two-year MFA Interaction Design program will use programming skills to create animated artwork for the Comerica arch featured inside the arena’s southeast entrance. The competitive MFA program brings together students of design, art and technology to prepare them for careers at design firms and tech companies.

“CCS is a longstanding source of art and design in the city, and the Comerica arch project is a way for the school to showcase its world-class students and faculty to the community,” said Paul Pangaro, Ph.D., chair and associate professor for the MFA Interaction Design program. “It’s about demonstrating the great contributions that CCS makes to the city of Detroit and how we participate in its resurgence.”

It’s also an example of how Olympia Development and Comerica are engaging the broader Detroit community to make the concourse an exciting, personal experience by inviting in the dynamic artwork and ideas from the area's next generation of designers, Pangaro said.

Alicia Secord, a first-year graduate student at CCS, is among the group of students who will create artwork for the Comerica arch, which stands 9-feet tall and about 14-feet wide.

“The chance to have your work out in the wild is a great opportunity, and it sounds like a fun challenge,” Secord said.

As a student of the Programming for Designers course, she said she has learned a lot about JavaScript, the programming language of HTML and the Web.

Pangaro said the course will allow students to take their knowledge deeper into sensors and hardware prototyping that could make the Comerica arch responsive to the public.

Upon completion, fans passing through the arch will encounter illuminated images and videos from a wide range of CCS programs, including gaming and digital media, illustration and painting, glassblowing and sculpture, graphic and product design. 

As CCS students continue to conceptualize and create artwork, they will work alongside community members through the college’s Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) and community+public arts:DETROIT (CPAD) programs.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is one of the largest sports and entertainment developments in the country. Located in the heart of Detroit, this 50-block, mixed-use development led by the Ilitch organization unites eight world-class theaters, five neighborhoods and three professional sports venues in one vibrant, walkable destination for people who want to live, work and play in an exciting urban environment. Home to the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions — The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.