Artist Projects

American Riad

Ghana ThinkTank

Since 2006, the Ghana ThinkTank has been “developing the first world,” collecting problems in the “first” world, and sending them to think tanks in the “developing” world to propose solutions. When the group asked a Moroccan group to help solve the American issue of Social Isolation—neighbors not knowing each other and entire communities cut off—they responded that the problem was our architecture. They observed that the American dream of the single-family home meant that neighbors were separated from each other. Even in cities, Americans manage to create isolation through our architecture and neighbors often don’t know each other. In contrast, they said, Moroccan architecture creates community. Urban or rural, the riad gives people shared entrances to their homes. “You need to make your architecture more like ours.”

So the Ghana ThinkTank is partnering with the Detroit organizations to implement the Moroccan solution in the form of an affordable land trust that resists real estate speculation. With a series of no-interest loans, they have purchased an empty 12 unit building, an abandoned house and the empty lot that lies between them in order to build an Islamic Riad: communal housing surrounding a central courtyard. They will form a land trust and pursue a model of development based on arts and culture that seeks to prioritize retention of neighborhood residences and businesses in the midst of a developing neighborhood. While many are demonizing Muslims and immigrants as a threat to American culture and safety, this public art project instead looks at how Americans can learn from Islamic and African Culture to solve American problems. 


  • Artists

    Ghana ThinkTank

    Founded in 2006, the Ghana ThinkTank is a worldwide network of think tanks creating strategies to resolve local problems in the "developed"…


    John Ewing

    John Ewing is a digital media artist specializing in participatory installations with an emphasis on social activism and cross-cultural exchange…


    Maria del Carmen Montoya

    Maria del Carmen Montoya is a new media artist working in performance, sculpture and installation. She has lived and worked throughout Latin Ame…


    Christopher Robbins

    Christopher Robbins works on the uneasy cusp of public art and community action, creating sculptural interventions in the daily lives of strange…


  • Events

    Jan 26 – Jun 04, 2017
    Ghana ThinkTank Presents "American Riad" at the Williams College Museum of Art

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  • Project News

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    April 7, 2015
    Project Premiere: Kerry Tribe Solo Exhibition "The Loste Note" at 356 Mission in Los Angeles

    March 19, 2015
    Project Premiere: Carlos Motta Launches Web-Based Project "Gender Talents"

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