Interview with artists’ group, The Poor Man’s Art Collective, about their current show, Welcome to the Colored Section
The Expressionists, the New York School, and the Surrealists are all well-known art movements. These are art movements where artists worked together to change the art world. Artists—writers and painters—often gravitate toward one another, especially when a particular idea captures their imaginations. Through collaboration, these artists are able to challenge one another to push the boundaries of their art. During the 1970s, Detroit had a well-known group of innovative artists often referred to as the Cass Corridor artists. These artists were and are (many of the core artists are still active) brilliant thinkers who pushed ideas of art and community in Detroit.
Today in Detroit there are many groups of artists equally vying to challenge one another to the point of creating unique and important work on par with the Cass Corridor group. One such group is the Poor Man’s Art Collective (“PMAC”). PMAC are visual artists, performers, and writers based out of theLiberal Arts Gallery at 3361 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, MI 48207. Their latest collaboration is “Welcome to the Colored Section,” which opens on October 26, 2012, 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
I sat down with this group of artists (many of whom are self taught) to learn more about the members and their latest endeavor.
What does the title of the show, “Welcome to the Colored Section” mean to you?
Artist – Geno Harris – “Welcome To The Colored Section” means many things to me and I suspect to the group as a whole, but for this show as with others in the past it is a vehicle for self exploration into the core of each individual as an artist with the common thread for this show that all of us are African American. I thought it to be interesting to see into the mind and out of the eyes of each artist how their culture, race, history, heritage, religion, relationships, family dynamic and even existence influences what you the viewer may see on a canvas or hear in their music or poetry.
What is the Poor Man’s Art Collective?
Artist – Geno Harris – PMAC is Poor Man’s Art Collective is a platform for unknown and emerging artists from visual to spoken word and art in all forms to showcase their talents, also to provide support and direction in navigating the process that allows their work to be shown (heard) to an otherwise untapped community and consumer market.
What is your background?
Artist – Bianca Henderson – Oakland University Bachelors in studio art/education, currently working on my masters in social work. I plan to infuse art into my therapeutic practice, allowing art to be the voice and outlet for my patients.
What or who inspires you?
Artist/Musician – Detroit Bleu – Kwame Awuku and Dawud Muhammad have influenced my visual art and Faruq Z. Bey, Yusef Lateef, Roy Brooks, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock all have influenced my music.
What is your process?
Artist – Reggie “Abstrkt” Singleton – The foremost thing that is present for me in the creation of Art is clearness of mind. All artists use materials and these can vary from piece to piece depending on what is to be said. But whether I am doing an Ink Drawing or an abstraction, the mind must be clear to communicate with the soul. Now reaching this clear state of mind can also vary from artist to artist. I know artists who work in utter silence. I personally use music to reach a level within myself where creation is possible.
Colin: How has your experience been with the Liberal Arts Gallery?
Artist – Geno Harris – Working with the Liberal Arts Gallery has been an amazing experience for me personally and for the group as a whole. Duane Belin, Curator is truly a forwarding thinking art enthusiast who allows artists to express themselves to their fullest extent, without preconceived notions as to what art is or is not, he allows his public to be that determining factor. L.A.G. is a beacon for artists of every background, technique or skill to grow and become better artists.
How has your art career changed over the past five years?
Artist – Reggie “Abstrkt” Singleton – My art is an extension of the way I live my life, the things I decide to put in my head, and the people I choose to keep company with. What I have found is that my art reflects these choices, and it develops as I develop. The more I choose to grow and progress in art, the more the art I create progresses. I am more familiar with what my soul is trying to say than I was 5 yrs ago. I am more comfortable with the way I speak as an artist, and I feel what I say is more clear. It all comes back to the artist’s choice: to approach each day according to what you are inside.
What do you look for when viewing new artwork?
Artist – Geno Harris – When I view new work, I view it from an artist’s perspective because I am an artist and understand the process I went through to create the works that I do, it affords me an objectivity that others who only read or study about could never have. PMAC does not judge on style or technique or some other minutia that many galleries or groups tend to do. We simply stress that the end product be put together well enough to hang properly in a gallery setting.
What is the Poor Man’s Art Collective?
Answer: Poet/Vocalist – RoseMarie Wilson aka One Single Rose – 1. Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni are my aunties in my head. Jill Scott is the big sister who reminds me to dare to be different. Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare are my go-to counselors. I have mad love and respect for my Detroit poetry sisters Dimonique Boyd, Ber-Henda Williams, Black Maria; brothers Caesar and Jah X-El, as well as DuWaup of Cincinnati, Ohio. I was so stoked to finally meet Truth B. Told—his flow is SICK!
Where do you see Detroit in 10 years?
Artist – Poet/Vocalist RoseMarie Wilson – 2. We have so many talented individuals in Detroit. I am constantly on my knees praying that the people of my city can come together so that we may breathe life back into the D. The beauty that is Detroit gets overshadowed by media reports about crime. In 10 years, I hope that Detroit can come back as the city I remembered living in as a child; where the entire village raised children, we shopped in our own neighborhoods and handled business to protect the block—it was kind of like crossing 8 mile—you drove the speed limit and nonsense was kept at bay. “Detroiters, we’ve got to ban together to keep our neighborhoods tight!”
Does beauty play a role in your art?
Artist – Geno Harris – Beauty is absolutely a driving force for my art. Although one could say that beauty is a subjective idea it comes through my work as a contradiction to a lot of the things that I went through in my life such as an addiction to gambling and most recently being a kidney patient and fighting and winning by getting off of dialysis. My art represents through color the joy and the beauty I saw and still see in the world, only made clearer through the struggles that I have gone through.
Artist – Mychal Noir – Poor Man’s Art Collective has been fortunate to finally have acquired its own studio space in downtown Detroit right in the center of all things cultural and creative, which will give us the opportunity to always have a central location where our art can be seen and purchased. After the show in October PMAC will begin planning its next show from its new location as a grand opening to the area. Liberal Arts Gallery is our home gallery and will remain so, “You never forget where home is”