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. In 2018, she opened The RED, a children's art museum in Detroit. Live Coal is a 2017 and 2019 Knight Arts Challenge winner. Rock is a 2019 Facing Change: Documenting Detroit fellow. She lives in Detroit with her husband and four children.
Through social engagement and personal reflections, I explore the underlying notions that shape my audience’s expectations of society and urge them to consider my art as part of a broader commentary on society. I address issues such as injustice, loss, poverty, motherhood, race, and other topics revolving around the human experience, choosing the most appropriate media for the subject or message. Since 1999, I have mainly been exploring these issues in the context of living in the city of Detroit. Bodies of work I have made include: Money Head, Motherhood, 400, Community Conversations, reDetroit, and Ten Plagues of Detroit.
Money Head is a staged photographic and performance series that explores the complexities around money as it relates to wealth, poverty, gentrification, inequality and more. The series started when I was confronting my own biases and judgements on those who had wealth and power in Detroit verses those who lacked it. In Money Head (X Marks the Spot), the owner of a small business in Detroit stands resolutely in front of her storefront next to remnants of Money Head, whom she recently interacted with. Money Head (Spiraled Out) features longtime Detroit gallerist Dell Pryor sitting in her soon-to-be-empty gallery space in Detroit’s Midtown – an area that is slowly being gentrified. Money Head Performs Independence Day 2019 is a commentary on American culture and points to the traditions we partake in, even at the cost of perpetuating the cycle of systemic racism.
To symbolize the 400 years since the first enslaved Africans landed at Port Comfort in 1619, I sewed 400 bronze bells onto a black top and choreographed a performance where I danced in the garment – answering the national call that was given to ring bells throughout the country. In a later rendition, 400 Years of Labor, I emotionally, spiritually, and physically connect myself with those who had to endure the hardship of the middle passage by acting as a passenger on board a slave ship. The mixed media painting seen in the performance becomes the ship and I am a woman in labor. The performance was done in my studio during my sixth month of pregnancy.
The multi-faceted aspects of motherhood appear in works such as Cord Dance (a performance that included my children); Veiled (a video incorporating images of my children, ultrasounds and illustrations of the female body); and, Motherhood (a photo documentary project about the lives of five Detroit moms).
Video by Nathan Clark, Christianity Today, 2012
Copyright © 2021 Yvette Rock - All Rights Reserved.