Press Release


MOCAD’s Summer Season opens with LaKela Brown’s inaugural solo presentation, “From Scratch: Seeding Adornment”.

April 25, 2024

Image credit: Left: African/American Bouquet, with Five Collard Leaves, Two Corn Cobbs, and Five Okra Pods, 2024, Resin. Right: LaKela Brown in her studio, portrait by Kyle Knodell.

LaKela Brown

(Detroit, Michigan – April 25, 2024) – Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) proudly presents LaKela Brown’s inaugural solo museum presentation, From Scratch: Seeding Adornment, on view from June 28 to October 4, 2024.

Spanning two gallery spaces, From Scratch: Seeding Adornment presents Brown’s work in two segments, Seeding and Adornment, celebrating the nature in which Black ancestral and cultural legacies have permeated across generations despite incredible odds. Brown creates sculptural assemblages using plaster reliefs to produce dialogue, reflection, and collective memory across contemporary Black life. Her work explores nourishment practices across the African diaspora to cement Black culture as a conduit of liberation.

In Seeding, Brown creates sculptural assemblages that uplift the significance of plant life in the formation of Black Identity. The sculptures serve as a homage to how memories are planted across generations within the African Diaspora, addressing the legacies of migration. If Seeding is Brown’s depiction of where memories are planted, Adornment is her returning to the soil only to discover towering trees now deeply rooted in Detroit’s landscape – a testament to the growth that flourishes from the seeds of determination and resilience. Adornment uses plaster reliefs of door-knocker earrings, rope chain necklaces, and gold-capped teeth to further Brown’s practice as an archivist of Black freedom and joy. The wall works record how the iconography of ornamentation can serve as a vessel for hopes and dreams to be passed down from generation to generation.

“LaKela Brown’s work is a testament to the Museum’s ongoing commitment to amplifying non-traditional perspectives in contemporary art. Brown’s innovative exploration of identity and culture across the African diaspora is the work of a visual archivist. Her work celebrates the diversity that thrives in Black communities. This expansive presentation demonstrates the rigor and care of Brown’s approach to documenting Black life. It is a monumental ode to intergenerational storytelling and ancestry,” says MOCAD’s Co-Director and exhibition curator, Jova Lynne. “I am deeply proud to present LaKela Brown’s first solo museum exhibition in her hometown here in Detroit.”

Throughout the exhibition, Brown will further activate the propagation of Black culture and legacy through public programs. These include but are not limited to an artist talk, an exclusive screening of the documentary film Grown in Detroit by filmmakers Mascha and Manfred Poppenk, and a seed preservation workshop organized in partnership with Keep Growing Detroit – a local organization equipping city residents with the necessary tools for food sovereignty.
From Scratch: Seeding Adornment illuminates the interconnected threads of ethnobotany, fashion, cultural adornment, and historical consciousness, offering a multifaceted exploration of Black identity. This exhibition is curated through a practice of reconciliation and reclamation to recognize Brown’s commitment to archiving the continuity of memory amidst the Black diasporic movement and culture. 

Join us on Friday, June 28, to celebrate our Summer 2024 Exhibitions. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

LAKELA BROWN (b. 1982) is from Detroit, Michigan, where she attended Detroit Public Schools and graduated from the College for Creative Studies in 2005. Brown has participated in solo and group exhibitions globally, including at Reyes | Finn, Detroit; 56 Henry, NY; Swiss Institute (SI), NY; WE BUY GOLD, NY; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), NY; and Lars Friedrich Gallery, Berlin, and has presented a solo installation of her work at Rockefeller Center in partnership with Art Production Fund and at The Armory Show in 2023 with 56 Henry. Brown’s work resides in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, and Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) presents exhibitions and programs that explore the best of contemporary art, connecting Detroit and the global art world. MOCAD focuses on art as a means to nurture social change and human understanding, reflecting our community. We encourage innovative experimentation by artists, musicians, makers, cultural producers, and scholars to enrich all who participate and to educate visitors of all ages in the power of art. Whether from Detroit or worldwide, we welcome creative voices who can guide us to an equitable and inclusive future. We believe that art can change us, and it’s our responsibility to hold a space where challenge, acceptance, hope, and beauty can coincide.

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