FEBRUARY 25 – JUNE 12, 2022


s(h)elves? is the first museum solo exhibition of born-and-raised Detroit artist Sterling Toles. Toles’ practice defies categorization, melding sound, painting, sculpture, and lyricism to create a healing methodology to center his immediate community. Toles will activate the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead in this suitably unconventional exhibition as a six-week artist residency, “healing lab.” The gallery will be closed during this time, but invited community members will sit with Toles and inform the work later exhibited.

Sterling Toles uses community-based activation, found objects, original music, and image-based works to explore the connection between matter and spirit as constituent parts of identity construction. s(h)elves? questions the degree to which we define who we are by trauma and limiting beliefs held by containers of selfhood and the impact of our reluctance to change what rests on these shelves of identity.

Mechanical components of industrial electrical equipment retrieved from a decommissioned power plant speak to the expression of identity in form, both in bodies and how they function to carry the energy of our spirit. Following these studio sessions, Sterling will present works that reveal aspects of these encounters, thus grafting a link between the ethereal and material.

s(h)elves? is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and is curated by Maceo Keeling with curatorial and exhibition support from Jessica Allie, Jova Lynne, and M.Pofahl. Exhibitions and programs at Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead are funded by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by Red Bull.

Image credit: Courtesy of Ash Arder.