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Curatorial Statement

Reflecting upon this year, and thinking about the social and societal implications that will follow, 2020 is the year of reimagining. Reimagining how a virtual space employs attributes of a physical space. Reimagining how communities can still have engaging and meaningful interactions even if they are not face to face.

With these inquiries, reimagining Rock My Soul, the curatorial work of Meredith E. Rutledge is a starting point to investigate the aforementioned inquiries of space and engagement. The original premise of Rock My Soul invited ten Black artists from Detroit to examine a genre or style of Black music and create a piece or series of work in response to the genre. In addition to the ten artists creating striking works in a variety of mediums, they share personal anecdotes, inspiration and research that fueled their artwork.

As I worked through the show I took the time to listen to the genres and each song the ten artists drew inspiration from. I smiled at the artists’ stories, and admired their dedication to the depths of their research to create a piece or series that uplifts and shares the power of Black music. This project came at a pertinent time for me during COVID-19. I have not hugged or touched my mother or father in six months, seeing the artists’ connection with music made me reminiscent when listening to a Marvin Gaye song. I think about being in East Cleveland with my mother at my grandparents’ house. And when a Curtis Mayfield song pops into my head, I think about driving around Cleveland with my father. Engaging with the work of the ten artists made me feel connected to my hometown and my family for the first time since the pandemic began.

The connectivity that the artists present through music and Black culture is exceptionally uplifting. It is my hope that the cultural inspiration and timelessness of this work touches and connects people that also need some human connection while enduring this global pandemic.

Chelsea A. Flowers

Carr Center Summer Fellow and Curator of reimagining Rock My Soul