Joyce Foundation Awardee


Charles McGee and the Charles H. Wright Museum


The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Charles McGee received a Joyce Award, with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to create a permanent sculpture titled, “United We Stand.” This piece will be McGee’s final piece and will serve as a capstone to his acclaimed career. The Joyce Award will allow the Wright Museum to commission McGee for what he has described as his largest and perhaps final outdoor piece, a steel sculpture titled, "United We Stand." The piece will be unveiled in July 2016 to conclude the Wright Museum's celebration of its 50th anniversary and also kick off a yearlong citywide commemoration of the 1967 racial unrest.


Charles McGee, 91, is perhaps Detroit's most important and influential visual artist. McGee is an African American artist who arrived in Detroit during the Great Migration when he was 10 years old. He served as a United States Marine in World War II, and was assigned duty to clean up Nagasaki after the bomb. He attended Detroit’s fine arts school, the College for Creative Studies on the GI Bill. He has served as a professor of art, a co-founder of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, and his assemblages, paintings, and sculptures can be found in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum, Howard University, the US Embassies in Benin and Peru, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and University of Michigan. He has spent his entire career in Detroit and, in addition to his large body of work, he has also been a mentor to generations of artists of color through his teaching, curating and friendship. McGee is now 91 years old; he is still actively creating, lecturing and hosting community events.

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