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Michigan Central Station Collection Honors Graffiti Artists with Unique Jewelry

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Rebel Nell Michigan Central Station Collection

Some of the pieces from the Michigan Central Station Collection

The saying goes: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When you’re Ford, life sometimes hands you $90 million to buy a decrepit former train depot that you will turn into the centerpiece of a massive new campus. And in that train station, you find all sorts of graffiti from the years it was left to rot. In a case like this, Ford turns the lemon of graffiti into the lemonade of a limited-edition Michigan Central Station Collection of fine jewelry.

Ford turned to Corktown’s Rebel Nell to repurpose layers of paint used in graffiti artwork found in the Michigan Central Station lobby to create distinctive jewelry like pendants and earrings. Rebel Nell CEO Amy Peterson regarded what some might see as vandalism as a form of art worth preserving, implementing a “no peel” policy to demonstrate respect for the artists.

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“It’s an amazing project to be a part of,” Peterson said. “The jewelry is a unique way to preserve and commemorate the legacy of the muralists who for decades left their mark on an iconic building.”

The Michigan Central Station Collection consists of 300 pieces ranging from pins and cufflinks to necklaces and pendants. Many of the collection’s higher-priced pieces, which go for up to $225, sold out in little or no time at all.

Rebel Nell Michigan Central Station Collection

Rebel Nell CEO and co-founder Amy Peterson

“We had an amazing response the first day we launched,” Peterson said. “Each piece is one of a kind. No one is going to have the same piece you have.”

“There is a story in every piece,” said Shawn H. Wilson, manager, community engagement at Ford Fund. “Over the years Michigan Central Station became an artist’s playground. Artists went there to perfect their craft and build their brands. Part of the reason we’re doing this is to pay homage to the artists.”

Ford purchased the Michigan Central Station from the Moroun family in June of this year and will revitalize it as part of a new Corktown campus project.

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Photos: Rebel Nell’s Michigan Central Station Collection