Artefacting Detroit

Team Members

Alex White-Mazzarella is the Founding Director and Manager of Artefacting. An artist & urbanist he sparked Artefacting as an initiative in utilizing art, collaboration and positivity as means of building community and engaging the pressing social and cultural issues at the community level. With courage, multiculturalism and global insight in hand, Alex is passionate about bringing diverse audiences together. Through Artefacting he conducts artistic interventions from the inside of a community out to spawn fresh perspective, possibilities and boost social cohesion.

He received his BA in economics at Clark University (2002) and studied Urban Planning & Architecture at Portland State University and Universidad Politecnica de Barcelona. He developed the Central Waterfront Planning and Design Competition as the Program Manager of Designing Hong Kong before moving to New York City to work as an artist - training under Hugo Bastidas, Phillip Sherrod and Larry Poons at the Art Students League. His work is in private collections in the USA, Europe and India and he exhibits regularly in New York City. is his personal website.

Through his extensive travels, Arne de Knegt has had the fortune of being part of everyday realities of many of the world’s cultures, societies and religions, shaping his nature as a world citizen. As a photographer and idealist, he sees Artefacting as a way to re-shape the way we think about our world and the many components it exists of. Through human interaction and addressing issues of social nature, his passion lies in looking for a more just society.

His background in Urban Planning and his logistical knowledge - built up through years of freelancing as a stage technician on world tours of large rock-n-roll bands - enables him to analyze local issues at a transparent level combined with logistical engagement in making Artefacting’s public activities possible.
His photographic works have been published and exhibited and are in private collections in over a dozen countries worldwide. Arne has been central to Artefacting’s establishment, figuring in largely to the Dharavi, Detroit, Willets Point and Global Village projects. is his personal website.

Project Partner

heidelberg project
Heidelberg Project Using art to provoke thought, promote discussion, inspire action and heal communities…

The Heidelberg Project is art, energy, and community. It’s an open-air art environment in the heart of an urban community on Detroit’s East Side. Tyree Guyton, founder and artistic director, uses everyday, discarded objects to create a two block area full of color, symbolism, and intrigue. Now in its 25th year, the Heidelberg Project is recognized around the world as a demonstration of the power of creativity to transform lives.

Public Relations

Joan Witte, owner of Raven Loon Communications, is an award-winning professional with Public Relations Society of America accreditation and extensive communications experience in community relations, internal communications, and strategic planning. Her industry experience spans nonprofits and higher education as well as international Fortune 500 environments. Some of the organizations she has developed strategies for are Ford Motor Company, Ford Motor Credit Company, The University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Ameritech, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Rock Financial, and GreenPath (formerly known as Credit Counseling Centers).

Collaborating Artists

As Founder of the H.U.G.S. Foundation, Samuel Wells has the vision of allocating funds to communities and organizations that offer the most sustainable solutions to social and economic inequalities. As an advocate for change, Sam uses his background in music and business to help communities realize their true value and the vast amounts of resources at their disposal. While studying music composition at Wayne State University, Sam participated in a yearlong study aboard program at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. He experienced the dynamics of a country rich in cultural and natural resources yet plagued with poverty and underdevelopment. He continues to work with local Brazilian bands to spread awareness about the diverse musical styles and cultures this country has to offer. Sam hopes to use music as a tool to raise awareness on how culture and sustainable environmental practices can create a peaceful society. As a current graduate of Finance at Wayne State University, Samuel plans to lend his strategic and valuation skills to organizations focused on the overall wellbeing of mankind. He believes the combination of creativity and strategic policy is fundamental for growth and sustainability. The Artefacting program allows its team to unite efforts to promote a sense of community through art.

João Henrique Brandão was born in Curitiba, Brazil in 1981. He studied at the EMBAP (School of Visual Arts and Music of Parana) earning his B.F.A. in Painting in 2007. While a student at EMBAP he participated in several volunteer projects throughout Curitiba: First in 2005 as a drawing instructor in the State Prison in Curitiba. And in 2006, the artist created ColorIlha, a workshop with the fishing community of Ilha do Mel (English Honey Island) aimed at using art to generate income for an ex-fisherman community. This served as the seeds to catalyze the low-income population handcraft techniques that could later produce handmade souvenirs for sale.

João Henrique Brandão arrived in the United States with an invitation to become an artist in residence at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany, CT in 2008 and has been making/exhibiting his work in New York City since.