Art is for the soul. It’s meant to connect people and places to create something bigger than the individuals involved. It’s important that art is accessible and interactive because it helps the soul in ways that nothing else can. Andrea Eckert works to bring out the soul of art, adding life, community and creativity into the lives of others, and making art accessible through her work at Holding House in Detroit.
Holding House was created to be an art studio, but it quickly morphed into a community workspace. Eckert, along with her co-director Adrienne Dunkerley, has taken art and used it to create a space where diversity and community combine to make the community stronger.
The two graduated from Michigan State University and decided to buy a studio space in 2013. As the two women spent the next two and a half years juggling work, family and renovations, the original intent for the studio space changed.
“Holding House came to be as I slowly worked in there and people came around and were curious to see what the building would turn into,” said Eckert. “It was at this point that we decided that the space was really meant to be shared. Since then, we’ve regularly hosted other nonprofit service organizations to partake in workshops centered around the themes of exhibitions we are presenting.”
Holding House and Eckert have worked to provide a new outlet for the community.
Eckert said, “Through engaging in workshops, we are introducing high quality art to Detroit community members that would not otherwise get exposure to. The workshops help foster a deeper connection to art-making and creative problem solving as a tool in their own lives.”
Eckert’s favorite experience from her gallery is when Holding House hosted a workshop for the Alternatives for Girls organization. The workshop included having women come look at art with their children alongside the artists that made the art they were experiencing. These types of moments open up a new world to community members and allow them to feel welcome in a space they might not have been before.
Along with being a co-director of Holding House and a mother, Eckert is also an artist herself. She primarily works in printmaking, but she also paints and creates small installations and environments. “I draw inspiration from my daily activities and routines and rhythms in our home,” Eckert said. “There are certain objects that I will connect with and work with for some time.”
Eckert has not just created a home for art within the walls of Holding House — she has created a home for diversity and community. Her work with Holding House has helped a community and multiple generations find and use their voice, as well as a place to let their expressions and feelings be free. Holding House and Eckert are helping to hold a community together.