Artist Dismantles Rosa Parks' Old Home, Takes It Overseas
Ryan Mendoza on holding Detroit structure 'hostage' in Berlin: 'America ... it's going to cost you'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2016 8:58 AM CDT
This photo taken July 12, 2016, shows a project by Ryan Mendoza, who is using two abandoned homes on either side of an occupied home. The artist has taken the homes that sit empty, painted them white,...   (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press via AP)
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(Newser) – What do you do if the blighted home your famous aunt once lived in is on the demolition list and you can't raise the funds to preserve it? In the case of Rosa Parks' former house in Detroit, her niece donated it to artist Ryan Mendoza, who took it apart and brought it to Germany, the Guardian notes. Mendoza, an expat who's lived abroad for more than 20 years, per the Detroit Free Press, plans on rebuilding the home in his Berlin studio and then taking it on a tour around Europe. "What I would like to do is hold the house hostage," he tells the Free Press. "America, you lost this house. America, you gotta get it back. And it's going to cost you." Parks' niece, Rhea McCauley, who bought the house she says the civil rights activist lived in (from 1957 to 1959) back from the city in 2014, tells she tried to raise funds to preserve the house, but "it all ended up being the same thing: 'No, we can't help.'"

So she reached out to Mendoza, who'd already courted controversy with two other projects in Detroit: the "White House," a home he also dismantled for overseas reconstruction—but whose demolished remains irritated neighbors—and a repurposing of two abandoned homes that, at night, showed the names of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton through faux bullet holes. Mendoza tells the Guardian he's an "imperfect candidate" for this project—he thinks someone in the black community should be at the reins—but he hopes to one day bring the home back to the US. "She loved the city, but I don't think the city loved her very much back," McCauley told the Free Press. "This house should have been preserved here." The property is set to be turned into a city vegetable garden, notes. (Warren Buffett's son scooped up some of Parks' items to donate in 2014.)