Spotlight on Detroit Art and Makers


If you live in or anywhere near Detroit, you are probably well aware of the amazing artistic talent and creative culture pulsing strongly through the potholed veins of our city. From the Detroit Institute of Arts to the College for Creative Studies to roadside graffiti and decaying buildings, there is no shortage of natural inspiration or creative talent in Detroit.

Jill Nienhuis is an oil painting and ceramics artist in Brightmoor, a neighborhood in NW Detroit. In 2012 she chose to buy an abandoned house and DIY rehab it with her partner Michael who is also a painter. They both took some time off from painting to focus on fixing up the house and healing the land around their home. Sustainability, functionality, an art studio, and a large garden were guiding desires they built towards. Their finished home project incorporates a full rain catchment system, earth shaping for biomass and seasonal rainwater management, fruit trees and shrubs, edible and medicinal herbs and flowers, and an annual kitchen garden and full herb garden. According to Jill, “It was a different kind of art for us and tons of work, but very fulfilling”.

Jill is currently teaching after school art programs in the Detroit Public School System and also teaches ceramics classes at a studio in midtown. In her own words, “One of the things I love about being an artist in Detroit is the abundance of beautiful and interesting subject matter. I’m interested in nature and wild spaces, or lack of​, and how humans fit into those spaces. I’ve painted neighborhoods in different areas of Detroit and each one has it’s own unique ecosystem and set of challenges.  There is a vibrant arts community in this city that I feel fortunate to be a part of. People are generally supportive and excited about creating and sharing.”

Jill is currently showing paintings in the Detroit Artists Market Biennial All Media Exhibition until May 26th and participating with ceramics in the Grosse Pointe Art Fair May 19-20th.

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