AXD Living X

22 projects explore the changing landscape and narrative of Detroit and its neighborhoods.

A yearlong, city-wide, multi-disciplinary series

AXD Living X is a yearlong, city-wide, multi-disciplinary series featuring 22 newly commissioned exhibitions, performances, and events

AXD Living X explores the changing landscape and narrative of the city and its neighborhoods. The projects were commissioned following an open call to the nearly 200 Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award winners from the first decade of the Kresge Arts in Detroit initiative.

Living X explores the significance, ambiguity, upheaval, and uncertainty of this contemporary moment. In 2019, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Kresge Arts in Detroit initiative. During this same 10-year period, Detroit has undergone significant transformation. There are many positives and pieces of evidence of the resilience of this place through the everyday brilliance and determination of its people. Still, we know the recovery remains uneven and elusive for many residents. Living X is about now, our recent and distant past, and the yet-to-be-envisioned future. ‘X’ is a variable used to represent an unknown value. Every day we watch, participate, and shape the stuff of future history. We are living in times that are seemingly without precedent. And yet, artists in this city, at this very moment, are crafting unimagined futures; uplifting lives sung and unsung from our collective past; giving meaning, clarity, and activism to our present; and, more than anything, finding and feeding the joy and humanity that runs through this city. The 22 projects selected here examine what it means to live and create in these undefined times: the ‘X’.


AXD 2019 was curated and managed by rootoftwo and powered by The Kresge Foundation.

AXD 2019, in part, serves as a celebration of the first decade of the Kresge Arts in Detroit initiative, which annually awards $25,000 to 18 artist fellows and $5,000 to two Gilda Award winners recognized for early-career risk-taking. AXD 2019 is a successor to the biennial Art X festivals, originally produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc. – which presented new works by Kresge Artist Fellows primarily in venues in Midtown, Downtown and Eastern Market from 2011 to 2015.

AXD 2019 Advisory Panelists:

  • Pradeep Dalal, Program Director, Arts Writers Grant Program, Creative Capital 
  • Pat Elifritz, Curator of New Media and Technology, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
  • Rachel Harkai, writer and 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow in Literary Arts
  • Cornelius Harris, Label Manager, Submerge Records and Founder, Alter Ego Management 
  • Njia Kai, filmmaker and cultural producer
  • Sarida Scott, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and former Executive Director, Community Development Advocates of Detroit
  • Anthony D. Stepter, Assistant Director, Museum and Exhibition Studies graduate program, University of Illinois at Chicago


We started work on the Living X catalog and the accompanying AXD podcast in March 2020, just as Michigan, most of the country, and the rest of the world went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As final texts were edited and episodes recorded, people took to the streets in response to centuries of systemic and structural oppression of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. This was a moment of reckoning, where community-based movements are working resolutely to demand and deliver progressive social transformation.


Hosted by Ryan Myers-Johnson, executive director of Sidewalk Detroit, the Living X Podcast features AXD artists’ voices and partners’ voices reflecting on their projects and the many ways artists, culture keepers, and creative practitioners are shaping a more equitable future for themselves and Detroit.

Living X Podcast is a production of rootoftwo and made possible with support from The Kresge Foundation. Edited/mixed by Wayne Ramocan of Red Carpet Lounge. Music by Pamela Wise




Date: 2019-2020
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Client: The Kresge Foundation

Design: Summer 2019
Completed: Fall 2020

The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation, Culture Source, Sidewalk Detroit, Red Carpet Lounge, Olu & Company, Middlecott Design, and Brightly Interactive.

Cézanne Charles (rootoftwo)
John Marshall (rootoftwo)
Dominique Campbell
Lauren Rossi


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