Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead

Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead is a permanent artwork by the late artist Mike Kelley. Located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, it is a full-scale replica of the home in which Kelley grew up: a single-story, ranch-style house in the Detroit suburb of Westland. Kelley, who died in Los Angeles in 2012, sought to ensure that the Mobile Homestead remain relevant to the cultural interests and concerns of its local communities. In that spirit, the home was designed with a detachable facade, allowing it to be driven to neighborhoods throughout the city, offering public services during its travels.

MOCAD’s Department of Education and Public Engagement works with local organizations and individuals to make the ground floor of the Mobile Homestead a flexible community center providing space for projects, events, gatherings, conversations, and installations that are created by, and in service of, a diverse range of people.

Rather than projecting ideas out into the world, the Mobile Homestead invites the community to contribute ideas, while visitors to the house are encouraged to suggest events, projects and exhibitions. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved with Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead, stop by or drop us a note at: mobilehomestead@mocadetroit.org.

Current Exhibitions

Nicolas Lobo:
Wellness Center
May 10 – August 4, 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit presents Wellness Center, a solo exhibition by Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo based on contemporary wellness therapies and the socioeconomics of the wellness industry.

The placement of Wellness Center inside Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead builds upon the idea that a home is understood by many as a place for healing, from a variety of collective and environmental harms. The project also references the conventional home-based practices of chiropractors, massage therapists, life coaches, acupressurists, acupuncturists, and many others who repurpose their domestic space as a place for wellness.

All of the artwork in the exhibition is part of  Lobo’s direct therapeutic work with individuals in his studio in Miami, using familiar products and objects common within the wellness ecosystem. Cannabis pain cream, rose kaolin, prickly pear, activated charcoal, medical grade honey, and hydrogel beauty masks take on the typical role of paint in Lobo’s series of “Hydrogel Paintings”. Made by applying wellness products to glass windows and then photographing them at various times of day, the translucence of the materials evoke slides under a microscope—reflecting on the physical properties commodified by the wellness industry.

Juice Trade is a new video work that explores the tension between economies of scale and safety in beverages as told through the circulation of bottled drinks sold at traffic lights and high end juice processing and consumption. Wellness Center also features functional sculptures designed to provide water based wellness services to visitors. A limited number of appointments to take part in these treatments will be available throughout the exhibition and those who are interested in participating are asked to inquire in person at the Mobile Homestead during public hours.

Support for Nicolas Lobo is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Wellness Center is funded by The Ellies, Miami’s visual arts awards, presented by Oolite Arts.

Image: Nicolas Lobo, Triple Rose Mask Residue Test (Rose water hydrogel, gooseberry hydrator, Cannabis pain creme, double phalaenopsis), 2019. UV ink on aluminum, 12×18 in. Image courtesy of Nina Johnson Gallery.

More About Mike Kelly’s Mobile Homestead

Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead is a permanent art work by the late artist Mike Kelley, located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It’s both a public sculpture and a private, personal architecture – based on the artist’s childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland, a neighborhood which primarily housed workers for the Big Three auto makers: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

In a largely disinvested city with many abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings, Mobile Homestead enacts a reversal of the ‘white flight’ that took place in Detroit following the inner city uprisings of the 1960s. It does so at a time when the city is exploring new options of renewal by assessing its singular post-industrial conditions in an attempt to articulate a new model for American cities.

The sculpture, which almost exactly replicates the vernacular architecture of working class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, brings the suburbs back into the city, and as it travels – on specific missions – the mobile home performs various kinds of community services, establishing a permanent dialogue with the community that houses it.

MOCAD’s Department of Education and Public Engagement programs the ground floor of Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead as a community space, as Kelley intended. It is home to projects, events, gatherings, conversations and displays that are created by and for a diverse public, and is intentionally unaffiliated with the Museum’s exhibitions and public programming.

The Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead is commissioned by Artangel in association with MOCAD, LUMA Foundation and Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts with the generous support of the Artangel International Circle. Support for the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead is provided by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

The Mobile Homestead was featured on WDET, learn more and hear the story here.

Keep even more up to date with Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead on Facebook and Instagram.

On Saturday, September 25, 2010, the trailer portion of Mobile Homestead, which constitutes the front of the house, made its maiden voyage from its new home in Midtown Detroit to return to the original Kelley home in the suburbs.

On its way down Michigan Avenue, one of Detroit’s main arteries and passageway to the western suburbs, the mobile home passed through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods such as the old Irish area of Corktown; Dearborn, the home of the Ford motor company, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Ford’s personal collection of homes and structures associated with great Americans such as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Rosa Parks); Inkster; Wayne (where Kelley attended Catholic school); and finally Westland where the former Kelley family home still stands.

Mike Kelley also produced a video documentary that focuses on the people and communities who live and work along Michigan Avenue. The videos, entitledMobile Homestead Christening Ceremony and Launch, September 25, 2010; Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland; and Going East on Michigan Avenue from Westland to Downtown Detroit will exhibit at MOCAD, May 11 through July 31, 2013, along with documentation materials, which reveal the process of realizing this major art work.

Mobile Homestead will be fully completed in spring of 2013, when the mobile home will be attached to an altered reconstruction of the Kelley home, to function as a community space.

Mobile Homestead is artist Mike Kelley’s first public art project anywhere and the first major permanent installation of his work in his hometown. This project is also the first commission by Artangel in the United States and has been produced with support from the LUMA Foundation and in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Mike Kelley: “Mobile Homestead covertly makes a distinction between public art and private art, between the notions that art functions for the social good, and that art addresses personal desires and concerns. Mobile Homestead does both: it is simultaneously geared toward community service and anti-social private sub-cultural activities. It has a public side and a secret side…”

Click here for an Audio interview with artist Mike Kelley and Artangel director James Lingwood.

Mike Kelley at the Mobile Homestead
Photo of artist Mike Kelley at the Mobile Homestead Christening Ceremony and Launch, September 25, 2010. Photo courtesy of PD Rearick

At the core of Mike Kelley’s vision for Mobile Homestead’s ground floor is community engagement. In its permanent location behind MOCAD, Mobile Homestead integrates into the neighborhood as a clubhouse. Rather than projecting ideas out into the world, Mobile Homestead is about inviting the community’s ideas in.

Visitors are encouraged to suggest and participate in potential events or projects to take place within Mobile Homestead. If you have an idea you want to pitch, you can email us, but the best thing to do is drop by for a visit!

Comments, suggestions, or questions? What do you want to say to us? Email mobilehomestead@mocadetroit.org

Mobile Homestead
4454 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
Phone 313.832.4944

Mobile Homestead  Hours
Friday – Sunday: 11AM – 5PM

All of Mobile Homestead‘s entrances and public areas are wheelchair accessible.  A wheelchair is available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Service animals are welcome at Mobile Homestead.