Yvette Rock received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union in New York City and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She spent one year as a Visiting Scholar during her post-graduate stint at U of M. It was during this time that Rock conceived of Detroit Connections, a program that fostered collaboration between U of M and Detroit schools and organizations. She has worked as artist-in-residence with InsideOut Literary Arts Project, founded a local after-school program, is a community activist, and collaborates with artists of various disciplines. Rock has exhibited throughout southeast Michigan, including the Carr Center, Detroit Artists Market, Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, Ellen Kayrod Gallery, and National Conference of Artists. She is the founder and CEO of Live Coal Gallery, a social venture whose purpose is to foster a passion for art, community, and learning. Rock lives in Detroit with her husband and four children.
As a multi-media artist, I use photography, mixed-media, video, and interactive and non-interactive installations to tell stories about people, places, and personal experiences. I love to explore, to play, to discover new methods and materials, and to wrestle with images and thoughts in my mind and see how they can become tangible manifestations of my inward being.
For the past eighteen years, I have been passionate about telling the story of the city of Detroit. I have created pieces like, “Plague of Racism” and “Plague of Poverty” to share the stories of people I know and have photographed and interviewed. I often employ the underappreciated power of the figurative form (whether conceptually, realistically, or abstractly) to reclaim a vision of people whose bodies or histories are not accounted for, nor treated with care and attention. There isn’t a simple narrative that can fully tell the story of Detroit, so I often find myself using a variety of mediums. In the past two years, through collaborating with performance artists for the first time in my artistic career, I have discovered a whole new world of telling stories. I am now using sound, video and performance to continue my explorations and conversations around themes such as race, politics, faith, education, and family.
To connect my work with the broader community, I create environments where people can engage with my work, whether through art workshops or interactive installations. In the multi-media interactive installation, “When Two Worlds Collide,” participants walk through seven radical moments in my life, including watching a video of me being baptized. In “Rock Portrait of Gerald Williams,” I use various rocks to create a portrait of the late Gerald Williams during a festival held in a park. Participants could add their own painted rocks to the memorial.
My most recent video, “Corner of Midland and Braile,” looks at the transformation of a corner located in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood. From winter 2016 to winter 2017, I documented a fire, the changing of seasons, tire-painting, and the birth of a community garden using video and photography. Similar to my “Tenuous Equilibrium” photographic series where I photograph my daughter at the same location on a Detroit street from 2012 to present day, “Corner of Midland and Braile” joins my love for documenting the passage of time, telling stories, collaborating with others, and strengthening community.
Video by Nathan Clark, Christianity Today, 2012