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Detroit, Michigan

Ingrid LaFleur

By Amanda Lewan
August 22, 2013

All great visions start with a little imagination, but first you must have an open mind.
Ingrid LaFleur, owner of Maison LaFleur, believes that envisioning the future starts by opening your mind through art. Her work uses an arts movement in the city of Detroit dedicated to imagining the future.
Art unites us as human beings, but it also challenges us. The arts movement that Ingrid embraces does both. Afrofuturism is an international and multidisciplinary arts movement that challenges us to imagine those of African descent in the future, and to think both abstractly and critically about our community. It re-contextualizes Black history and uses elements like science fiction and magical realism to portray the future. It is wild and creative, and also very necessary for Detroit.
With Detroit’s primarily African American population inside the city’s borders, Ingrid is curating her AFROTOPIA project for Detroit’s future. Afrofuturism is especially pertinent to Detroit, a city that’s in the midst of what many call a period of reinvention, a city in need of redefining its own future.
Ingrid LaFleur grew up in Detroit. She left to study art history at Spelman College, then went on to pursue a M.A. from New York University. She worked with artists and art organizations in New York, Detroit, Nairobi, Johannesburg and other major cities across the world. Two years ago she moved back to the city and six months later she founded Maison LaFleur. The arts organization develops and organizes art exhibitions, art tours and classes on Afrofuturism.
She came back to Detroit after the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit was created because she felt inspired to rejoin the Detroit art community.
“It just felt like there was a community of people to connect with here,” Ingrid says. “I’ve moved around a lot. Detroit is a very fascinating, challenging city. There is nothing like it.”
Ingrid has exhibited local artists including Wesley Taylor and Tiffany Massey, and is also working on developing an artist-in-residence program.
“I work hard to include local artists and stay connected to the arts community in general as much as possible,” she says.
The art community that Ingrid works with is strong and creative, a community that she believes can have a powerful role in driving the city in a new direction.
“People try to reduce Detroit down to its challenges when there’s so much beauty, life and vibrancy here,” says Ingrid. “I really think the arts are moving the city forward. I really believe Detroit is changing and evolving in a positive direction.”
Maison LaFleur will be opening a space in the near future, serving as Detroit's headquarters for the AFROTOPIA project. The space will feature limited edition art and design pieces, host classes, and encourage creativity to fuel an imaginative future for Detroit.
How else can you reinvent an important future for an American city? Afrofuturism in Detroit is a continuous movement, one that’s growing in the city, led by Ingrid’s own passion for embracing the future.
“AFROTOPIA will grow over time,” says Ingrid. “That’s what I love about Detroit. It just kind of lets you evolve and grow together, slowly.”

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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