I've only created 10 paintings this week, but took a monumental leap forward. I decided to launch my first solo show with salvaged blueprints I've saved for 8 years. I've wanted to do this show for a long time, but never felt like I had the right venue or opportunity.
I have no idea who George Bernard Shaw is, but he said... "Don't wait for the right opportunity: create it."
Sound advice from a stranger.
NF, a Michigan based rapper who was heavily influenced by Eminem gave me my 2020 mantra from his song Options.
"I gotta make it or make it. These are the options."
Make it or make it.
I'm all in. I'm done living in fear of myself. Fear of things I can't control, fear of failure or embarrassment. 'Cause I gotta make it or make it. These are the options.
I took my January rent money plus the little bit of cash savings I had, and invested them into producing my debut solo show. That money has been used to pay for professional photography and custom framing for my work, things I haven't had the courage to do in the past.
The thing that's maybe most scary about this whole thing, is that I'm hanging the most important work of my career in my apartment. Not in a beautiful gallery setting like I had envisioned. And I'm paying someone to take photos of me doing normal things inside my apt against the work. This is not how to sell or exhibit fine art.
But the work is a time capsule. It documents a Detroit company's rise and fall along side my own personal trials and failures. To tell theses stories, I've used Bone Black acrylic paint, which is made from charred animal bones.
This animal char produces one of the most beautiful blacks in the world, super rich in pigment. It's produced by a company called Ebonex, which is in Metro Detroit and has been producing this black pigment from charred animal bones for over 150 years.
Detroit's motto is Speramus Meliora, Resurget Cinerabus. It translates from latin to english as "we hope for better things, it will arise from the ashes." Painting with ashes on documents that were discarded in Detroit is a literal expression of the city's spirit. I have taken death and created life.
My life ended in late March of 2020. Or so I thought. Coronavirus killed off my 4th attempt at a restaurant, and it was the nail in the coffin for my sushi career. Art resurrected me. This work is my past, present, and future. Through the death of one career I rise in another.
This collection of work is so special to me because it's the truest expression of my work as a fine artist. I believe that in order to create, you must destroy. I have destroyed these Detroit artifacts to create something new, yet the act of salvaging documents that were thrown away and hanging them in my home as art is an act of preservation.
The willingness for a human to be vulnerable and fully exposed when broken in an attempt to overcome a bad situation is perfectly analogous. My messy journey has been a perfectly unplanned chain of events over the course of 10 years. It's been painful, and filled with failure, and has brought me to a life defining moment.
These paintings are as much a part of my soul as they are of Detroit's. It sounds ridiculous to say, but I feel like they should be purchased by the DIA, Cranbrook, or MOCAD as a capsule collection. Altered Plans is the embodiment of 2020, Detroit's past, and its bright and hopeful future. But, out of necessity, these parts of me and Detroit will be sold off individually, each one being exchanged for one month's rent.
That's how I and probably many others assess money and life in the age of COVID (and well before that too). Living month to month has been more about survival than living yet in a strange way, I'm living my best life right now. Creating this body of work could be the reason I don't make rent next month, but I'm filled with empowering hope. This hope isn't wishful, it's derived from action. This is how Detroit hopes.
Creating and exhibiting this work will be like confidently walking out into public butt naked, flaws and all. I'll leave you with one last quote, and it's from Eminem.
"I'm not afraid."
Place: The House of Han (.com)
Date: December 30th, 2020
Time: 8PM EST