Open Call Details


Open from 
6th November 2017, 4:00am EST to 15th December 2017, 5:00pm EST
Results by 
12th March

Science Gallery Lab Detroit is seeking proposals for up to 20 works for HUSTLE, a free exhibition that explores what it means to work hard or get worked over. Deadline for applications is December 15th, 2017, 5pm EST. Provisional exhibition dates are early June 2018 - late August 2018.

About the Exhibition:

The spirit of the hustle has become an unofficial rallying cry for Detroit. Historically, the city has symbolized both the American dream and blue collar grit, developing a reputation for the resilience of its people in the face of everything from economic recession to civil rights issues. Art, music, entrepreneurship, and activism are just a few of the ways that Detroit’s people have broadcast their hustle with ingenuity, yearning, and pride.

All around the world, everyone has a hustle. Landlords, teachers, mechanics, bartenders, nurses, drug dealers, hedge fund managers, mechanics, small business owners, salesmen, or poets. The student with a full-ride scholarship or the parent working a day job while taking night classes. The people at the top and the people making the climb. We praise some for their work ethics and scorn others. We’ve all hustled, and some of us have been hustled, whether by people or by policies, structures, and systems. Some hustle to survive and others to get ahead. Some have their eyes on future hustles.

What can psychology, sociology, biology, criminology, behavioral economics, technology, and other domains tell us about hustling and being hustled? Why does hustling make us feel an entire range of emotions from celebrating our success, to anxiety about “making it,” to shame for being taken advantage of, to apologies for how we try to make ends meet? What does hustle mean to you?

Potential directions and topics:

  • Examinations of the ways we think about and behave to get, save, and spend money
  • Economics
  • Pyramid and Ponzi schemes
  • Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and the past, present, and the future of money
  • Explorations of how we compete or collaborate
  • Utopian possibilities such as egalitarian systems of exchange, non-exploitive currency systems, or systems based on cooperation and sharing
  • The politics and biases of the hustle: why are some considered swindlers and others considered heroes?
  • How does fame change the perception of hustle?
  • Activism, social projects, and community-building.
  • How is hustling a learned behavior? Do environments in childhood, culture, or community shape or contribute to this behavior?
  • What circumstances make it more or less likely that we’ll be honest or dishonest?
  • Income inequality, poverty, and living wages.
  • Whether systems, structures, and cultural norms can advantage or disadvantage us.
  • How do spheres of influence affect your economic opportunity?
  • How scarcity and abundance influence our thinking and behavior.
  • The physiology and psychology of hustling.
  • How do different cultures deal with the idea of hustle?
  • Examinations of the systems that are responsible for controlling and distributing money at the personal, family, community, national, and international level.
  • What will hustling look like in the future as the 4th Industrial Revolution marches on?
  • How have technologies changed our hustles and how might they change them in the future?

Ask questions! If you’re unsure about an aspect of your proposal, please use the comments section below or email

Curatorial Panel

  • Ava Ansari, Independent Curator, Poetic Societies
  • Scott Campbell, Visual Artist and Ford Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
  • Troy Livingston, Director, Science Gallery Lab Detroit
  • Mark Sullivan, Professor of Music, Michigan State University


Proposals may be new or existing works, and will be funded up to a maximum budget of $3,300, which should include all artist fees, materials, equipment, shipping, travel, etc. Please note that these are maximum amounts and we enthusiastically welcome proposals that come in below the maximum budget. We are happy to write letters of support for applicants seeking funding from elsewhere if your work is selected.

What makes a good Science Gallery Lab Detroit open call proposal?

  • Strong proposals will match Science Gallery Lab Detroit’s three core aims to Connect, Participate, and Surprise. Some tips for strong proposals:
  • We love works that invite the visitor to participate, create and discuss.
  • Great projects bring together art and science in a creative way. We generally avoid science that is evaluating art or paintings that didactically portray science
  • ​Relevance to our core audience of 15- to 25-year-olds is a factor in all curatorial decisions.
  • Defying categories is good (“it’s kind of a hybrid sculpture, event, installation-puzzle, with a crowdsourced edible citizen-science archive, plus a performance component that will showcase a speculative future organism…”)
  • We have limited wall space, so we usually have more room for objects/sculptures.
  • A true connection to the theme is a must — avoid shoehorning an unrelated work. Hustle takes many forms but the concept is universal, and our call is open to everyone. Projects do not need to be from Detroit-based artists or Detroit-themed.
  • ​Collaborations are great! Are you a cryptographer working with a cellist? Maybe you’re a comic book illustrator artist thinking of submitting a proposal with an immunologist? If you’re a marine geologist looking for a cheesemonger to work with, we might know just the person — get in touch and we will do what we can to help.

For information on how to submit your proposal, visit the How to Apply page.


Hello! Is this exhibition open to dance that could be performed in the space?


We are beekeepers, farmers, educators and honey hustlers in Detroit. We wanna do an exhibit on our work. 
We are thinking about having bees make wax/honey special for this exhibit.  

When will the Curator panel make decisions about which projects make it into the gallery??

And when will the chosen projects receive funding??

Hi Antonio, thanks for your interest. Can't wait to see what you propose. Bees are consummate hustlers! 

We will begin the process of selecting over the next 4-6 weeks. We would like to have commissions selected by the end of February and contracts signed shortly thereafter. As soon as contracts are signed we can send checks. Please let me know if you have more questions and good luck! 

Also, you don't have to make an exhibit, you could propose other things including a program of series of programs if you like. If you'd like to speak us about your ideas send me an email at and we can set it up. 

Thanks again, Troy