Since sharing an initial proposal for the project in August 2010, Zacks began testing ideas for instigating art and design in the ruins of large-scale buildings, long-abandoned houses, and on green parcels left behind by rampant demolition. By 2011, the proposal evolved into Flint Public Art Project, with a mission to activate underutilized sites, connect people and places, amplify the local culture, and help transform the image and identity of Flint. Compelled by forces of change in the built environment, in 2013 Zacks and colleagues established the nonprofit Amplifier Inc., expanding from the FPAP model to connect other under-served groups and cities to the global art and design field. It’s the kind of art intended to look ahead, bring artistic energy to widely misunderstood places, and amplify the potential of art and design to influence patterns of redevelopment in cities rebounding from decades of economic upheaval.
With support from the Ruth Mott Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtPlace, FPAP has demonstrated its social vision for change through programs like the Neighborhood Art Parade, engaging artists and residents in collaborations to bring art and design installations to under-served locations identified by stakeholders. The Free City festival, Stone Street Artists-in-Residence program, Neighborhood Art Parades, and future Spencer’s Center for Art and Architecture all attract local, national, and international artists to FPAP’s socially engaged programs.
Zacks’ new role as Creative Director has been planned and coordinated by the expanded Board of Directors of Amplifier Inc., which in December added nine local and southeast Michigan artists and community leaders. Begun as an advisory group to steer the executive transition, the expanded board includes artist and cultural strategistAshlee Arder, Ballenger Square Neighborhood Association leader Marijoyce Campbell, University of Michigan–Flint design professor Ben Gaydos, Capital Theater restoration manager Dave Johnson, Metawanenee Hills Neighborhood Association co-chair Wendy Johnson, University of Michigan architecture professor Catie Newell, photographer and graphic designer Jay Rowland, artist and designer Ariel Sammone, and theater designer Joseph Schipani. The expanded board has appointed long-time FPAP colleague and supporter Joseph Schipani as Interim Managing Director.
With support from the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, MacDowell Colony, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts, Zacks is completing his forthcoming book, A Beautiful Ruin: The Generation that Transformed New York, 1967-1987.
Above: Inside the Genesee Towers, June 2011, Desiree Duell
Below: Artist Meeting on Oak Street, May 2011, Joel Rash