Yvette Rock was born in Paramaribo, Suriname in 1975. Her family fled from Suriname in 1983 and became political asylees in the United States, landing in Miami Beach, Florida. At the age of 17, she moved to New York City where she attended Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997. She then moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Michigan in 1999. She is the co-founder of Detroit Connections, an on-going program that connects U of M students, staff and faculty with Detroit schools. Rock began working as an artist-in-residence for InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit in 1999, where she continues teaching art to children in grades K-12. In 2001, she moved to Detroit, where she has dedicated the past two decades of her life to bringing art to Detroiters of all ages and stages of life. She is the founder and CEO of Live Coal Gallery, LLC and the founder and Executive Director of Live Coal, a non-profit organization. Live Coal Gallery is a 2017, 2019, and 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Winner. Rock is also a 2019 Facing Change: Documenting Detroit Fellow. Rock lives in Detroit with her husband and five children.
I am a visual artist creating works on canvas, paper, found objects, and wood. I am not locked-into one type of style; instead, I foster a dialogue between the concept and process. I desire to make moving pieces layered with meaning; art that is ambitious, technical, and experimental; art that is bold, detailed, and unpredictable. I explore topics such Motherhood, from a biological, aesthetic, and spiritual perspective while often reflecting on my own journey as a mother of five children; Identity, wrestling with personal and societal ideas about self, blackness, and multiculturalism; Memory, contemplating the passage of time and its impact on human life, objects, and the natural world; and Spirituality, seeing prayer as a medium that helps me understand life and death, light and shadows, materialism and the ephemeral. The use of symbols and imagery such as circles, dolls, birds, leaves, flowers, and houses are also often a part of my visual language.
I am drawn to the human condition and all that it encompasses. I often employ the power of the figurative form – whether representational or abstract – to reclaim a vision of people whose bodies or histories I am compelled to account for, value, and memorialize. These representations are deeply connected to my relationship with the people and landscape of Detroit where I have resided for 22 years.
Though I explore the topics of Motherhood, Identity, Memory, and Spirituality using a variety of artistic mediums, I always return to painting. Painting is a reflection and extension of my innermost being. The process of painting is where my spirit and body are aligned and able to produce what is most true about me and the way I see the world around me.
Video by Nathan Clark, Christianity Today, 2012
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