Nice Outfit was a temporary scenography commissioned by the Michigan Arts League to host performances in Detroit’s Harmonie Park. The project was produced in collaboration with the artist Olayami Dabls, best known for his urban-scaled constructs at the Detroit African Bead Museum. The invitation to bring Olayami Dabls’ visual and material sensibility to the epicenter of Detroit’s economic resurgence was neither innocent nor dogmatic. Rather, in its calibrated fusion of art and architecture, Nice Outfit explored ways that design can sponsor activity, sustain cultural heritage, and engage public discourse.


The installation, alluding to themes from the African diaspora, introduced a family of nine wooden forms. Wearing nice outfits, they figured a friendly entourage. Hand painted layered surfaces and reflective mirrors created abstract flickering effects with color and light, while anamorphic projections multiplied the number of figures on the crowd.


Detroit, Michigan, 2015


Project Leads: Anya Sirota, Jean Louis Farges


Collaboration: Olayami Dabls


Design Team: Ian Donaldson, Matthew Story, Annelise Heeringa


Production Team: Alan Lucey, Ryan Mason, Ashley Daniels, Hanna Jeffers, Martin Elliot, Eric Howard, Daniel Glick-Unterman, Andre Ali Morgan


Award: Spirit of Detroit Award, 2015


This project was made possible through a grant from the Carr Center. Special thanks to Oliver Ragsdale.