2018 Kresge Arts in Detroit

The Committee joined with 2 other filmmakers (Space Money Productions, Gold House Media) to created 18 short films of the 2018 Kresge Artist Fellows. With each group working with 6 different artists. We were fortunate to work with 6 very inspiring artists, helping tell their stories and getting an intimate look into their practice and what drives them to continue creating art in Detroit.

Julia Yezbick

Julia Yezbick is an artist and anthropologist who received her PhD in Media Anthropology and Critical Media Practice from Harvard University. Her work has been shown at international festivals and venues including the Berlinale, MOMA PS1, the New York Library for Performing Arts, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit. Julia co-directs Mothlight Microcinema in Detroit, and recently completed a lectureship at Harvard University. She is currently a Postdoctoral Humanities Fellow in Egalitarianism and the Metropolis at the University of Michigan.


Thornetta Davis

Internationally-renowned singer Thornetta Davis’ career spans 30 years and she continues to produce magic. Her album “Honest Woman,” which she wrote and produced, received critical acclaim, including eight Detroit Music Awards, a Blues Blast Magazine Music Award for “Best Soul/Blues Album,” and a Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine Award for “Coolest Blues Song.” Thornetta garnered worldwide attention in 2018 when she won the “Best Blues Album” award from France’s La Academie du Jazz.


Emilio Rodriguez

Emilio Rodriguez is playwright whose works enable underrepresented individuals to hear their own narratives and audiences to experience untold stories. He began his theatre career at the age of two, performing one-minute solo adaptations of “The Wizard of Oz” in his parents’ living room using a broom, a funnel, and a pair of his mama’s high heels. Emilio has since created a wide range of Latinx characters, from college students and coming-of-age teenagers to sea lions. He introduces poetry and rhythm in his work to emphasize the most valuable statements of each character. Emilio’s plays have been developed and/or produced at Milagro Theatre (Portland), Teatro del Pueblo (St. Paul), Theatre Nova (Ann Arbor), San Diego Repertory Theatre, Tampa Repertory Theatre, Latinx Theatre Commons, Teatro Vivo’s Austin New Latino Play Festival, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo, The Landing Theatre’s Redemption Series (Houston), and the Ringwald Theatre’s Gay Play Series (Ferndale). His play “Swimming While Drowning,” was a 2017 finalist for the Portland Theatre Drammy Awards, and was honored with the Wurlitzer Foundation and Robert Chelsey/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award. Emilio’s career highlight to date is the moment when Panera Bread restaurant cashier gave him a free meal in appreciaion of his play “Mamacita.”



For over 30 years, violinist and flutist Michelle May has combined her knowledge and techniques of classical, jazz, world, pop, gospel, and R&B to create and perform music that inspires and empowers listeners. Her most recent work speaks to the uniqueness of womanhood. She has studied with a wide-range of master teachers, including many prominent women, such as Emily Austin, Phyllis Fleming, Barbara Ogar, and Diane Monroe, among others. Michelle has performed with numerous high-profile artists on stage and in recordings including Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, KEM, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Sheila Jordan, Smokey Robinson, Richard Smallwood, and the late greats Natalie Cole, Donald Walden, Marcus Belgrave, Dr. Teddy Harris, Joe Williams, Barry White, and Dizzy Gillespie. Michelle also leads Musique Noire, a majority-women strings and percussion ensemble performing original and arranged world jazz music.


The Hinterlands

Liza Bielby and Richard Newman began collaborating as The Hinterlands in 2009, developing an extensive shared physical vocabulary over years in the studio. Their body of visceral and challenging work delves into identity, both national and neighborhood-specific. Using an explosive physical training practice and a lengthy research process, The Hinterlands engage an interdisciplinary pool of collaborators to create genre-defying works that explore the possibilities of theatre and push audiences into unknown spaces. The Hinterlands’ work includes psychedelic Westerns, gleefully obtuse reproductions of radical 1960’s theatre, and border-crossing street festivals. Their work has been seen across the US and abroad, including at the Flynn Center (Burlington), p! (NYC), the Shanghai Biennale, and the Berlinale.


Emilio Rodriguez

Ben Corona in an independent film director based in Michigan who wants his audience to feel a deep human connection with his characters. He has created many short films including “Theater Piece”, which won Best Picture at the Michigan Museum of Arts Film Festival. He is currently working on his first feature documentary, “Sacrifice Zones: The 48217.” This feature documentary about the most polluted zip code in Michigan is a tool for environmental activism. Ben earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in film with honors at Wayne State University.