(DETROIT, MI) – Hip-hop is the star of the exhibition D-Cyphered: Portraits by Jenny Risher at the Detroit Institute of Arts from August 4 through February 18, 2018. Photographer and Detroit native Jenny Risher collaborated with musical artists, producers, and DJs to create portraits which tell the history, influences, and legacy of Detroit’s hip-hop musical scene.
The title D-Cyphered is a play on the mainstream meaning to decipher/to decode and cypher, the hip-hop term used to describe a cycle of competitive freestyle rap.
The exhibition is organized by the DIA and is free with museum admission, which is free for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county residents. Generous support has been provided by the Founders Junior Council of the DIA and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
“Founders Junior Council is thrilled to support this exhibition that will bring the hip-hop generation to the DIA for the first time,” said Founders Junior Council president David Gasper. “D-Cyphered celebrates Detroit, its music, and culture and the FJC’s goal is to bridge the gap between our younger visitors and museum’s collection, special exhibitions, and programs.”
Risher uncovers the remarkable history of the music and the artists through photographs taken on Detroit’s street corners, in its recording studios, music halls, and other legendary sites throughout the city. In addition to more than 80 colour photographs, an audio mix produced by Nick Speed will play continuously in the gallery.
“Jenny Risher’s dynamic images bring hip-hop culture, which is so connected to Detroit, and the visual arts closer together,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “The exhibition illustrates the hard work, talent and dedication of Detroit hip-hop artists and their influential musical legacy, locally, nationally and internationally. The photographs are relevant to so many in our community who are fans of hip-hop, many of whom have memories of concerts, dance performances or other events by artists featured in the exhibition.”
D-Cyphered includes 80 photographs featuring more than 230 hip-hop artists, producers, emcees, DJs, and promoters who were pioneers, innovators, and superstars respected throughout Detroit and globally, as well as those who were involved in hip hop’s creation and who sustained it through the years.
Veterans Juan Atkins, George Clinton, Amp Fiddler, and Don Was inspired musical styles, samples, production, and techniques.
Among the pioneers and trailblazers featured are Awesome Dre and the Hardcore Committee, Prince Vince and the producers, artists and management from World One Records photographed in Detroit’s historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, the site where some of the earliest cars were made and an appropriate place to pay tribute to Detroit’s first hip-hop record label.
One section shows many of the artists in their neighborhoods and at the homes, schools, and places where they grew up, wrote lyrics, sampled, cyphered, battled, and formed solidarity and rivalries with others who were part of the scene.
Many of Detroit’s most well-known emcees, rappers, and hype men are included, among them Mr Porter, Eminem, Royce da 5’ 9”, Black Milk, Big Sean, and Danny Brown.
Risher and the DIA worked with a team of experts to shape the story of D-Cyphered and give voice to the portraits. Writer and Metro Times contributor Kahn Santori Davidson wrote and advised on the exhibition texts. Chanel Domonique, DJ Los, Denaun Porter, DJ Skeeze, K-Deezy, Nick Speed, Seven the General, Supa Emcee, Trick Trick, and Ironside Hex provided direction on the exhibition’s content.
Risher has dedicated the exhibition to the late Proof (DeShaun Holton) who was known as The Mayor of Detroit hip-hop.
“Proof was beloved by all those who knew him,” said Risher. “His presence was felt throughout the entire project.”
Opening weekend programs
- Aug. 4, 7 p.m., Rap Battle – A rap battle featuring Detroit hip-hop artists with live music by the Burnt Sugar Arkestra
- Aug. 4, 10 p.m., “Dolemite” at Detroit Film Theatre – “Dolemite” is a 1975 cult movie about an unjustly imprisoned pimp who marshals a table of Kung Fu fighters to extract revenge from the gangsters who set him up. Tickets: $9.50 for general admission and $7.50 for members, seniors and students.
- Aug. 5 and 6, Noon-4 p.m., Hip-Hop Family Festival – Get an up-close look at what it takes to be a graffiti artist and learn new breakdance skills (or show off your well-honed ones) with a live DJ.
- Aug. 5, 9:30 p.m., “Wild Style” at Detroit Film Theatre – “Wild Style” chronicles the South Bronx youth culture of the 1980s and presents hip-hop royalty in their original milieu. “Wild Style” is the first celluloid vision connecting graffiti, break dancing, DJ-ing and freestyle MC-ing as cornerstones of the hip-hop nation. With Fab 5 Freddy, Grand Master Flash, and the Cold Crush Brothers. Tickets: $9.50 for general admission and $7.50 for members, seniors and students.
Museum Hours and Admission
The DIA is open from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for college students, $6 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.