June 18, 2024


Art Shines Through

Art & Soul: The Visual Arts – ‘Never Free To Rest’ Art Exhibit Features Pigeons Representing Racism

This 7 days, “Artwork and Soul” is about the visual arts.  WEMU’s Lisa Barry and the executive director of CultureSource, Omari Hurry, chat with artist Rashaun Rucker about his current exhibit at the College of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery. It compares the lifestyle and origins of the rock pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the manufactured identities of Black gentlemen in the United States. 

Never Cost-free TO Rest

by Rashaun Rucker
September 13 – Oct 15, 2021
M-F 9am-5pm

Institute for the Humanities Gallery, 202 S. Thayer
absolutely free and open to the public

Artist’s Assertion

Pi.geon.gap (verb)

1. To assign to a specific group or course, specifically in a method that is as well rigid or exclusive.
Synonyms: categorize, classify, label, typecast, ghettoize 

Never ever Totally free to Relaxation compares the everyday living and origins of the rock pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the made identities of Black guys in the United States of The us.  

My apply serves as an archive of Black lifestyle as it intersects with myths and realities. As source product for my drawings, I employ pictures of adult men I know and photos of men incarcerated in the United States prison industrial sophisticated. The photos of these incarcerated are taken from numerous internet websites and newsletters and then collaged or altered to build the operate. The operate is meant to be a record of their lives, a marker of the social conditioning and large challenges we deal with as Black adult men. The exhibition is affected by the inescapable ideas and terms of friends misplaced: those people who have been incarcerated, those who considered there was no way out—that they experienced been permanently assigned to the base of America’s caste program even nevertheless their talents ended up enormous and so often appropriated.

Pigeons are equivalent to how many people today see Black adult males in society: folks that populate city landscapes and dwell off assistance (i.e. the process) and viewed as vermin by some.

Whilst pigeons have a extensive record with human beings, it is just about difficult to discover their original habitat. Europeans introduced pigeons to North The united states in the 1600s, close to the exact time as the inception of the transatlantic slave trade in the United States.

Displaced from their all-natural ecosystem, and with no a migration gene to information them, the birds tailored to their instances and the environments imposed on them. Inside months, their spot is permanently imprinted in their minds as staying property. Substantially like the pigeons, Black persons were being taken from their place of basis and assigned a station in culture inside of the colonized Western Hemisphere.

My operate intends to communicate how the natural environment we have been positioned in as Black people, created by generational systemic oppressions, will become a unwilling contentment alternatively than a fleeting station—the “why” of “Black males normally don’t fly” (accomplish)—even nevertheless we can fly outside of these made conditions.  

Hardly ever Free of charge to Rest explores the belief that we as Black adult males are only permitted in specified developed or specified areas dependent on these exact racial stereotypes, to occupy prisons like pigeons in coops. 

It is my hope that the exhibition delivers an incubator for intergenerational conversations between Black men and boys, giving them a safe and sound area to go over these ongoing challenges between them selves.

-Rashaun Rucker

Notes from the Curator

I’m having difficulties with the words and phrases on the wall–
What terms can quite possibly do justice.
What comes next…to be continued…
It is additional about the Breaking than selecting up the place we remaining off,
All in pieces on the flooring,
And no rapid take care of.

Let us just commence…deconstruct it, develop a new buy of factors, begin once again, undo, unravel, dismantle, haul in the wrecking ball.
Wreak havoc, whack it with a mallet, wield the hammer and crack it vast open, choose it down.


Rashaun Rucker’s exhibition Hardly ever Totally free to Relaxation, signifies the very last works in his exceptional ornithology collection that explores the rock pigeon as metaphor for the systemic debasement, mistreatment and conditioning of Black adult men in America. Each and every drawing serves as a record, a myriad of marks, as if preserving time.

In addition to four new drawings, the exhibition also consists of two inaugural sculptural is effective designed by the artist and fabricated as component of his Institute for the Humanities residency. The hand-forged etched edition I Hit Extra Than I Miss replicates a portrait by Rucker, half pigeon/50 percent man, on outsized “Clay Pigeons,” the blaze orange discs normally applied for target apply.

As a performative element of the set up procedure, the artist willfully breaks three situations as numerous discs as he shows. The pieces before long accumulate on the floor like rubble. There is the seem like a shot each time a disc hits the ground with the plain drive of gravity.

The function is as considerably about the breaking as the generating..damaged units, guarantees, goals.


…Also, at a time when Black artists and their operates are in large demand, the project sales opportunities to tough issues.

How can white establishments, curators, galleries, and collectors act responsibly past text and very good intentions? How do we break the cycle of appropriation and commodification? How do we abolish the long held follow of ventriloquism?

–Amanda Krugliak, arts curator


Lisa Barry: You’re listening to 89 WEMU and this is Artwork and Soul. I am Lisa Barry. This week, artwork and soul is about the visual artwork, so we are joined by the director of CultureSource, Omari Rush. Hello, Omari. 

Omari Rush: Hello, Lisa. 

Lisa Barry: And we have a extremely special guest with a quite particular show at the College of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery. Rashaun Rucker. Hello, thanks for chatting to us. 

Rashaun Rucker: Hey, how are you? I’m delighted to be listed here. 

Lisa Barry: The title of your exhibition is “By no means Totally free to Relaxation.” And let me just set this out there that it compares the life and origins of the rock pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the built identities of Black adult males in the United States. That’s a ton. Can you break that down and and inform us what that genuinely is all about? 

Rashaun Rucker:  Oh, I just wished to make do the job that spoke precisely to conditioning for Black males in The us, and I often notify individuals I can only talk about Black gentlemen simply because that’s what I am. I are not able to always do justice to any person else’s plight, just what I’m suffering from. And I wanted to converse about it in a new way without the need of the exact tropes that we’ve noticed before. And coming across the notion of the pigeon and is undertaking more exploration and mastering that pigeons arrived to America around the very same time as the transatlantic slave trade, and then also just considering about people’s suggestions of pigeons and how pigeons are rat for wings. And they’re dwelling off the scraps, and they’re scavenging and they are accomplishing this and sort of gave me the exact same concept about how individuals would imagine that, you know, Black folks live in our techniques and assistances and programing and all these distinctive issues. But, when you get down to the foundation of it, equally are two issues that were being introduced here to The us in servitude or but just due to the fact a person wanted to provide the hen of that time. And it truly is type of like now, whether or not you deal with two residing beings that now have to determine out how to endure and adapt. And so, that is kind of the foundation of it. 

Omari Rush: Rashaun. One. Incredible. I like it. I’m obsessed. Two. Would you be able to just chat about what the perform basically appears to be like like? The form of selection of your exploration of this as a theme? 

Rashaun Rucker: For this certain present, it truly is variety of new for me since, normally, there is just significant graphite drawings. But this show has two particular installations one getting in solid plaster of clay pigeons, which men and women know they use people clay pigeons for target observe and skeet capturing adn trap shooting. And I’ve produced much greater clay pigeons with the face of one particular Black guy on each and every pigeon. But the vast majority of the pigeons are broken and scattered all over the gallery. And it speaks to the broken body that I’ve experienced with mates and just in the Black local community. And there is certainly only three unbroken plates on the wall, and the piece is called “I Strike A lot more Than I Missed.” And this is about how only a several of us are ready to at times traverse the obstacles place in front of us by systemic racism and redlining and all these other points that exist in America that we have to deal with this. They’re four big drawings in below, and, typically, the drawings are faces of Black male that amalgamated with pigeon human body parts with his encounter, or it can be the head of the pigeon, wings, at times full physique pigeons. A great deal of the faces are usually folks I know, and some of the faces are collaged shots of men and women within the carcel program. And the installation is called a “perilous perch.” And it is a everyday living-measurement pigeon coop with the perch made of American flags. And then on top of the perch are pigeon spikes, which you generally see at fuel stations and structures, which are set there, so pigeons will not roost or make a mess on the making. It truly is humorous mainly because on the marketing for the spike, it claims it tends to make the bird go to a put that’s extra obtainable. And so, putting that on the flag and at times America is not accessible to us, even though we live below, and the flag is talked about in standard. You know, I am still a painter and I am continue to an American, but it is really actually hard to reckon with getting in a place wherever occasionally you never feel the reciprocity in our guidelines. 

Lisa Barry: When you produce this art, the place does that come from in you–from your heart, from your mind, from your expertise, from when you wander out the doorway every single day in 2021 and what you happen to be even now dealing with? 

Rashaun Rucker: I assume it truly is all a few factors, Lisa. I imply, and I was telling any individual not long back, we always communicate about these respectability politics, which I dislike, and it really is like, you know, if you comply with the law enforcement or if you did this or you did that, I claimed, you know, one particular working day when I was operating the Free of charge Press and I was the editor at the time and I am walking down the road with one more Black editor sporting suits and we had a conference that working day. Any individual arrives past us and they yell out slurs and “Go home, Darkie!” And I instructed my boss the up coming working day, I mentioned, “You glimpse at me. I am accurately what you or the environment wants me to be. I am educated. I’m Black. I am law abiding. I’ve never been in issues. But that didn’t stop me from dealing with that. Since what transpires is you working experience my pores and skin just before you working experience me. So, nobody knows what you’ve achieved. So, a great deal of periods, people things when you ended up explained to to comply and do all the other items, that truly won’t exist or halt you from going through these form of traumatic points are existence in The united states. 

Omari Rush: And, Rashaun, as you generate this get the job done, do you uncover that, you know, if I consider Lisa’s dilemma to be about what goes in, I’m wanting to know what will come out? Do you truly feel healed, energized, hopeful? Do you get into like a deep dim melancholy? Where by do you the place do you variety of conclusion up on the other facet? 

Rashaun Rucker: It truly is genuinely not a liberty in making the operate. It’s more about me reckoning with my have concerns that have bothered me, and, yo know, what we deal with our society. But, also, you can find a pleasure in me generating the operate, and it can be not since of the heaviness of it. It truly is just a pleasure that I have in actually getting an artist and making work. And what I usually appear for is that when I do a exhibit or display items, you are on the lookout at the residue of my pleasure. But also the residue of my joy is both equally to confront you with thoughts that need to have to be answered. And I explain to men and women all the time when you see this do the job, you know, the factors I want you to just take absent from it is, are you in a coop? If you location anyone in a coop, are you assisting any person escape the coop? What is your function in the system? And people are the matters I want individuals to feel about when they experience the function. 

Lisa Barry: Have you been all around inside the College of Michigan Institute for the Humanities gallery to see individuals looking at your function? And what sort of reactions are they owning? 

Rashaun Rucker: I’m receiving only good reactions, and I consider, you know, the a person thing I listen to from learners or individuals is that I will in no way glance at a pidgeon the similar way ever all over again. 

Omari Hurry: Critically. 

Rashaun Rucker: But I inform people, you know, a person of the things that’s gorgeous about pigeons is when we see them, you know, you generally observing gray, black and white, I say. But it truly is not till you get truly near to a pigeon, you start off to see the purples and the greens and the blues and the iridescence in their feathers, and you see the natural beauty of them. And I imagine that speaks to Black guys or Black men and women or brown folks as effectively. It is, like, you you should not know the elegance of a little something to have a direct, real connection with it and not viewing it from afar. 

Lisa Barry: It can be referred to as “By no means Free to Rest.” We have been chatting to the artist Rashaun Rucker. It is really at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery through October 15. Thank you so considerably for conversing to us here on 89-1 WEMU. Omari Hurry. Usually great to link with you as very well, as well. 

Omari Hurry: Yes. Lisa, Rashaun. This is really just strong. So great. Thanks so a lot. 

Rashaun Rucker: Thank you. Grateful to be here. 


**Exclusive many thanks to Paul Keller for delivering the Artwork & Soul topic audio.**

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Factors Regarded on WEMU. You can make contact with Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or e mail her at [email protected]