It was 80 years ago this April that Diego Rivera started one of his most stellar works, the Detroit Industry Murals. The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the best museums in North America, and Rivera's murals alone make this midtown Detroit gem worth visiting--even if you only have 15 minutes in midtown Detroit.




Rivera's tribute to the DIA

Rivera's tribute to the DIA

The visceral reaction to Rivera's work as it progressed and even after its opening to the public made the babble on today's Fox News seem like playground talk. Religious leaders, the business community and the local press were up in arms and did not hold back in their scathing disapproval. But nothing funds a project like notoriety, and Edsel Ford along with the DIA increased the budget. What at first started as two murals grew to what is now the Rivera Court, one of the DIA's proud showcases.

The Rivera Court takes you back to the years when manufacturing ruled, and Detroit's innovation reigned. Workers kept factories humming; managers sought increased efficiency; and visitors came from around the world to learn new methods and ideas. Despite Rivera's inspiration from what he saw at Ford's River Rouge plant, his work also reminds us that in the end, everything around us comes from nature. His message was prescient as themes of man vs. machine still taunt us today.

Rivera's ideology aside, decades later his murals boast of a time when Detroit was America's industrial and economic capital. The frescoes recall an era when immigrants form around the world, including my grandfather, could leave their countries where they were no longer wanted and start a new life and renewed optimism.

Detroit has had more than its share of bumps in the road in recent years. Factories producing widgets have been replaced by open fields of wildflowers. Proud neighborhoods once brimming with immigrants from around the globe are now empty lots.

Nevertheless Detroit and its residents have ample reasons to be optimistic. The city can lead the world in demonstrating how an urban area can reinvent itself and beam as an example of resilience. Wayne State University and the surrounding area has a business hub that is a buzzing hive of new ideas. Creative types who want to take risks can plunge ahead in a city that is relatively affordable. The Lions have finally had a decent year. And institutions like the DIA offer timeless works of art that are among the many reasons of what this great city still offers so much to its residents and guests.

The American worker as depicted by Diego Rivera

The American worker as depicted by Diego Rivera

The assembly line at work

The assembly line at work

The manager at work

The manager at work

The factory glorified; the Midwest stands tall

The factory glorified; the Midwest stands tall

Rivera's work recalls a time when America's manufacturing sector thrived

Rivera's work recalls a time when America's manufacturing sector thrived

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.