Wayne State University

ArtsCorpsDetroit - Community Engagement


ArtsCorpsDetroit is a community engagement component of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, Wayne State University, Detroit, which provides arts-based programming to metro Detroit residents through community projects. Programming encourages the personal and social growth of participants, helping to enrich their lives and revitalize their communities.


ArtsCorpsDetroit relies on the following four strategies to achieve its mission: Projects; Service-learning; Volunteerism; and Research.


Established in 2010, ArtsCorpsDetroit (ACD) was the initiative of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College, Wayne State University (WSU), Detroit, in collaboration with CommunityEngagement@Wayne and Irvin D. Reid, president emeritus and the Eugene Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement, WSU.

Inspired by the Peace Corps and established on its 50th anniversary, ACD grew from student service-learning courses and the interest among faculty in three WSU colleges (Education; Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts; and Honors) to promote arts-based service-learning for students, faculty, and community art programs.

Creating block paintings at the Lenox Center using tape and paint. (June 2016)Relationships forged with community organizations under the founding leadership of Marion Jackson, WSU professor emerita of Art History and faculty from the WSU College of Education, continue to be fostered today. Through arts-based programming and with a dynamic corps of students and volunteers, ACD contributes to the well-being of Detroit residents, the vitality of Detroit communities, the fostering of the academic and/or personal growth of students and volunteers, and the collection of data for research.

Today, ACD resides within the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art & Art History, WSU, under the leadership of Joan Verla, with its research component directed by Holly Feen-Calligan, associate professor and art therapy coordinator, College of Education.


ACD collaborates with community organizations to provide projects which can benefit the organization and its members and add to the aesthetic beauty of the community. All ACD projects are led by a member of WSU's art department alumni, a faculty or staff member of the department, or by a local artist who is experienced in working with the community. All workshops are photo and/or video documented.

Depending upon the nature of the project, resulting artwork(s) may be exhibited at the organization or at a participating location in the community. A reception may be held at the organization or the installation site in honor of the participants, the organization, and the community.

During 2017, ACD responded to community requests to create a butterfly & art garden; build a mosaic, vertical garden passageway; paint several murals; and lead a number of afterschool classroom workshops. View past projects here.

Community groups, organizations, and businesses located in Detroit can submit proposals for arts-based projects by emailing artscorpsdetroit@wayne.edu.

Service Learning

WSU offers students a variety of credit-generating, service-learning courses that combine classroom experience with community-based learning. Students who are engaged with the community develop leadership skills, enhance their education and gain valuable life experiences while creating a better place in the world. Collaborating with WSU faculty who teach arts-based, service-learning courses strengthens all programs involved and increases possibilities for future, collaborative projects. Interested students are encouraged to speak with their academic advisor to learn more about service-learning courses.

Volunteer Opportunities

ACD volunteers have the opportunity to be a part of a community, to meet a diverse range of people, and to develop new skills, interests, and hobbies. Volunteering can spur motivation and a sense of achievement, boost career options, and indicate passions to friends, family, and colleagues. No experience is necessary to be an ACD volunteer, just a passion for working creatively in the community. Sign up to volunteer here.

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Featured artist

Jeffrey Abt

Professor Abt is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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