Popps Packing is an artist-‐run neighborhood-‐based nonprofit organization founded in 2009 by husband and wife team, Faina Lerman (painter and performance artist) and Graem Whyte (sculptor and architectural dabbler).
Our mission is to create impactful arts programming and foster cultural exchange between local and international artist communities, while leveraging the unique features of our region, neighborhood, and personal practices. Our programs include regular gallery exhibitions, that provide local artists a platform to showcase new works, a robust residency program and regular workshops and public events.
Our approach includes a philosophical reinterpretation of blight, not as an affliction, but a starting point that provides raw materials and inspiration for performances, traditional and nontraditional installations, and architectural interventions within the surrounding neighborhood. The opportunity to engage with raw spaces and join the conversation about emotional, artistic, and economic recovery in a post-‐industrial landscape is a major draw of the Popps residency program to a wide variety of international and national residents. Our facilities offers studio space to visiting artists, support the creation and presentation of new works, and provides networking opportunities between Detroit artists and visitors from a wider arts ecosystem.
Popps was built in the 1930’s as a meat packing plant, and later became a cookie factory followed by a t-shirt hub before being reborn as an arts venue. Popps Packing straddles the northern Hamtramck / Detroit border. Hamtramck is a dense, 2.1 square mile, culturally diverse city within a city, almost entirely surrounded by Detroit. Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, followed by a flood of Polish immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. Over the past thirty years a large number of immigrants (Yemeni, Bengali, Armenian, Macedonian, Turkish, and Ukranian to name a few) have continued to move to Hamtramck, making it Michigan’s most internationally diverse city, as well as it’s densest.