March 29, 2023

Episode 01: Capturing Motherhood and Memory with Yvette Rock

In this episode, we dive into a conversation with Yvette Rock. Rock was born in Paramaribo, Suriname in 1975. She received a BFA in 1997 from Cooper Union in New York City and an MFA in Painting from the University of Michigan in 1999. Yvette is the co-founder of Detroit Connections at U of M, and founder and Executive Director of Live Coal – a non-profit organization in Detroit. She has been an artist-in-residence in Detroit schools since 1999, and an active member of her community as a professional artist for 24 years. 

Yvette exhibits widely throughout southeast Michigan. Her accolades include three Knight Arts Challenge awards and a Documenting Detroit Fellowship. As a visual artist, community development activist, wife, and mother of five children, Yvette brings a wealth of life experience and insight into her art practice. 

In this episode, we talk about: 

  • The power of play and experimentation 
  • Paramaribo, Suriname
  • Memory & Motherhood


  • Referenced Works



[00:00:08] Michaela Ayers: Hello there and welcome to Black Her Stories, where we tap into the lineage of black women artists who inspire us and shape our stories. 

[00:00:24] Michaela Ayers: Join us for nourishing conversations that center the lived experiences of black women past and present. 

[00:00:33] Michaela Ayers: Together we’ll explore what possibilities exist. When creativity meets history, when we harness our creative power to unlock our purpose, I am your host, Michaela Ayers.


[00:00:55] Michaela Ayers: [00:01:00] daydream with me for a moment. Imagine you’re walking on a tightrope over a body of water that is not too deep and clear enough that you can see all the way to the bottom 

[00:01:18] Michaela Ayers: fired up by the challenge. Your arms hovered just above your shoulders, keeping you balanced – confident and calm 

[00:01:28] Michaela Ayers: sunshine beaming on your face. Surrounded by towering rocks, tall trees, and very talkative birds. This moment feels like a conversation with the land mother nature is encouraging you, telling you to take it slow. Just put one foot in front of the other, reminding you of [00:02:00] all of the beautiful memories that have carried you this far.

[00:02:07] Michaela Ayers: This vibrating energy of nature and motherhood informs today’s conversation with Yvette Rock.

[00:02:16] Michaela Ayers: Yvette Rock is a visual artist who received a BFA in 1997 from Cooper Union and an MFA in painting from the University of Michigan in 1999. Creating works on canvas paper. Found objects and wood Yvette’s work explores the human condition through topics such as motherhood, identity, memory, and spirituality.

[00:02:49] Michaela Ayers: She exhibits widely throughout southeast Michigan

[00:02:55] Michaela Ayers: Yvette is also the co-founder of Detroit Connections at the [00:03:00] University of Michigan, and the founder and executive director of Live Coal, a nonprofit organization. 

[00:03:09] Michaela Ayers: She has been an artist in residence and Detroit schools since 1999, and an active member of her community as a professional artist for 24 years.

[00:03:21] Michaela Ayers: Her accolades include Three Night Arts Challenge Awards and a Documenting Detroit Fellowship. 

[00:03:30] Michaela Ayers: And so without further ado, let’s dive in to my conversation with Yvette Rock.

[00:03:43] Michaela Ayers: Hello and welcome. 

[00:03:45] Yvette Rock: Thank you. 

[00:03:45] Michaela Ayers: So excited to have you here. To begin, I feel like so much of the intention of Black her stories is to give black women their flowers.

[00:03:53] Michaela Ayers: And so I just feel so excited and grateful to be here in this space with you and get to [00:04:00] capture some of your story. So thank you for saying yes and thank you allowing us into your space. 

[00:04:08] Michaela Ayers: One of the things I’ve been really curious about is early childhood experiences. And how our early childhood experiences inform our creativity.

[00:04:19] Michaela Ayers: And so I would love it if you could tell us about your first creative impulse, one of your earliest creative memories.

[00:04:26] Yvette Rock: Wow, you know, creative is a very broad term. Anything that uses the imagination, the pudding of things together. And it can span so many contexts, right?

[00:04:41] Yvette Rock: Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was kite building.

[00:04:44] Yvette Rock: I was born in Paramaribo Unama in South America, and one of the things I recall as a child is making kites by hand, finding sticks, [00:05:00] tying it. and then with paper, making the kite frame, and body and then the tail with paper or whatever we could find or cloth stripped together.

[00:05:12] Yvette Rock: And my older brother, Raul helping us make kites. So I love that you brought me back to that memory. When we think of visual art, when we think of the practice of using materials for the intentional purpose of making an image,

[00:05:31] Yvette Rock: I would say when I came to the United States when I was about seven, seven and a half, I would draw on the walls. I would copy other cartoons and things like that. My mom would reflect back to me stories of as a kid, I was always drawing. I always loved. Making art. So she would tell me, oh, you’re always drawing , always trying to copy other art or cartoons and things like that.

[00:05:56] Michaela Ayers: Well I love this story about kite making cuz I feel like I see [00:06:00] in that your collage practice in your ability to assemble as a young person and construct.

[00:06:06] Michaela Ayers: and put that art in nature, in the sky. I see that and I’m curious, how does that inner child inform your identity as an artist?

[00:06:17] Yvette Rock: I think the playfulness and the desire to experiment, that’s one of the things

[00:06:21] Yvette Rock: I value about my practice is I don’t ever wanna be stuck. Some would say that there’s a disadvantage to, at this stage of my career not having a consistent style and I’m going to use the word style. And that’s because I don’t wanna be pigeonholed.

[00:06:45] Yvette Rock: And I don’t necessarily, want my creativity to be stunted by the expectations of others. Where it’s like, you’re always expecting an oil painting from me, no, actually, this week I’m making an assemblage, [00:07:00] or this week I’m really into whatever concept I wanna put out there. And I don’t wanna be limited by materials. So I would say from very early on, even middle school, high school, I vividly remember wanting to experiment.

[00:07:13] Yvette Rock: Whatever I saw, if it spoke to me and it could communicate some other message or idea, I would just pick it up and use it. Oh, you can’t do it because you’re a painter, so you can’t pick up that piece of wood and create something else. So I’d say from early on, from childhood to adulthood, I am still experimenting and playing around, and I love that.

[00:07:34] Michaela Ayers: You used playful and that was a word that definitely came to me when I was looking at all of your art because it is very clear that you like to play in different mediums. And along that same path, I was curious cuz you mentioned Surina, if you could take us back to what that landscape looks like.

[00:07:53] Yvette Rock: Landscape, well, like I said, I left there at a pretty young age, but there are glimpses, almost a montage of [00:08:00] memories.

[00:08:00] Yvette Rock: That’s kinda how I remember my childhood. I remember, definitely the dirt, you know? And the dust and the banana trees. The foliage, the greenery, part of the Amazon is in Surina and, I remember, the houses, the small houses and the animals. We had animals definitely, running around, chickens and so forth.

[00:08:30] Yvette Rock: We always had dogs and I remember, coming from surname to the United States, my dad really wanting to replicate CNY for himself and for us. I feel like he was just, he wanted it here. And so our backyard was like a mini synonym. He would build whatever he could with whatever materials to make it his beauty, his landscape, and that [00:09:00] was very special to me.

[00:09:01] Yvette Rock: And starting in middle school when my art teacher handed me a camera, of course not digital, film camera, that’s what I started. I documented our family’s life and childhood, nonstop. I took so many. , there’s so many shots, so many photographs of my dad working in the backyard in our house.

[00:09:30] Yvette Rock: Again, recreating that ceremonies landscape.

[00:09:32] Yvette Rock: I’m really moved by reflecting here and thinking about those images, cuz I, I remember everything was black and white, like all my photographs of course. So I’m remembering these image.

[00:09:44] Yvette Rock: It’s interesting because I think if you look at the photographs, especially some of the landscape and his gardening, the things he would grow you’re like, how is that growing here?

[00:09:52] Yvette Rock: And this was in Miami, Florida that we lived, uh, Miami Beach and Miami when we first came to the United States. So it was [00:10:00] nice cuz the climate allowed us to, grow

[00:10:03] Yvette Rock: some similar things, but of course not exactly the same things as he would’ve been growing in surname. But I remember in those photographs as I’m picturing it, like he tried to, like sugar cane, banana trees

[00:10:16] Yvette Rock: Like he just really went all out trying to replicate that landscape.

[00:10:20] Michaela Ayers: Yeah. It sounds very rich. 

[00:10:22] Yvette Rock: The moisture, the climate, the memory of surname is a lush one. And, the greenery, the landscape, that’s what’s vivid in my mind and the language, ceremonies and uh, like hearing it and the sounds and how can I forget the food? The food is definitely up there in my memories of surname and my dad’s cuisine. Uh, outstanding. 

[00:10:55] Yvette Rock: The memory of surname is a beautiful one and of my dad is a [00:11:00] beautiful one.

[00:11:00] Michaela Ayers: Thank you for taking us there and helping us imagine what was your early childhood like, and then how did your dad recreate that for you in the backyard?

[00:11:10] Michaela Ayers: In terms of not wanting to lose that landscape, but then also through food, and so much of our memory is embedded in food and flavor and smell. I’m curious when you think about that taste. of Cerna, like what comes to mind for you?

[00:11:29] Yvette Rock: savory,

[00:11:30] Michaela Ayers: Mm-hmm.

[00:11:31] Yvette Rock: very salty foods.

[00:11:33] Yvette Rock: Surname is interesting. It’s quite a mix of people. And so you have like the influence Indonesian, and you have Indian, East Indian, and you have chinese, and then you have African influence. It’s a Dutch colonized country and gained its independence in 1975. So I’m like a child of independence.

[00:11:59] Yvette Rock: [00:12:00] So the food I grew up with is so diverse and rich, the curries and the plantains, the soy sauce and the savory stuff, right? Like baking, there are definitely some big dishes, but I really mostly remember just the quick stir fries and things like that, stir fried rice or we say

[00:12:20] Yvette Rock: Nazi

[00:12:21] Yvette Rock: Nazi is how you say it, or

[00:12:22] Yvette Rock: Nazi gore,

[00:12:23] Yvette Rock: which is like stir fried noodles versus the rice. Just influenced by so many different people groups. So I grew up with a pretty wide range in terms of the palate and the types of food we ate and bringing that to my own home. 

[00:12:38] Michaela Ayers: I like this because I feel like it also relates to what we were talking about before in terms of the different types of medium that you use.

[00:12:45] Michaela Ayers: Yes. And the different kind of flavors that show up in your art making. And so I think that thread is really interesting, in terms of how it might look. It might show up in the kitchen and it’s gonna show up in the studio too.

[00:12:58] Yvette Rock: No, I love it. [00:13:00] My children can attest that. It’s very much that way. They’ve seen my art life and my kitchen life and the saying in my house is, I hope you enjoyed it cuz you’re only getting that once because mom is not recreating that. So enjoy it while you can’t. Like that literally is the thing. It’s a one, like this is a unique piece. This is an art piece. When I’m in the kitchen, I’m like, wait a minute, maybe I can put that in there. Okay, that’s a totally new flavor. Okay. I’m not making that again. And they know it.

[00:13:31] Yvette Rock: They’re like, that was good. We enjoyed it for what it was. We know we’re not getting it again.

[00:13:36] Michaela Ayers: it’s a once in a lifetime meal.

[00:13:38] Yvette Rock: yeah. So it is a very similar practice for me believe it or not. 

[00:13:42] Michaela Ayers: I believe it. I believe it a hundred percent. Well, to ground us back into Detroit. I connection to the land feels important in terms of looking at your work and also understanding you as a person. And so I. Was doing my research around Detroit Repatched and I wondered [00:14:00] if, since we have listeners here who maybe haven’t seen it or aren’t familiar with it, if they were to come across, Detroit Repatched, what would they see?

[00:14:09] Yvette Rock: Wow. Fast forward Detroit repatch. So first of all, Detroit Repatch. The name is inspired by a series of artwork that I started around 2014, 15 16, where I was making works inspired by the phrase re, meaning to do again, to hope again, to be, renewed, restored. those types of words and I would create these mixed media collages and paintings using maps from the city of Detroit and old maps, new maps, and re-imagining the landscape and, reinvigorating the landscape visually through these collages and bright colors and so forth.

[00:14:50] Yvette Rock: So that’s the root of the name. So that was like years before starting this kind of three dimensional, [00:15:00] large, landscape based work, which is located in Brightmore and Detroit. 

[00:15:08] Yvette Rock: So I wanna acknowledge that there’s a lot of life already happening. We call it vacant land and all these things to simplify it, but there’s a lot happening in the land already before we even do anything. So we’re trying to figure out how to cooperate with what’s there.

[00:15:27] Yvette Rock: We’re also trying to respond to what’s in the space and. Learning from the space. So for example, this past two weeks, the largest tree that sits on our property, and definitely one of the largest on the blocks actually collapsed. Like two huge branches just collapsed. And I was like, whoa, what do we do?

[00:15:53] Yvette Rock: Right? So now we’re responding to this natural occurrence. The tree had completely rotted. From the [00:16:00] inside and couldn’t sustain itself. And which, of course, has a metaphor for a lot of things. When things look a certain way on the outside, but on the inside something else might be festering. And so what do you do now through this devastated thing?

[00:16:15] Yvette Rock: And so we’ve been trying to think through, how do you re re right, repurpose, reuse this material and, so we’re finding different ways to, to reuse it. But so Detroit Patch, this arts infused green space and what we hope will become an art hub in Brightmore, we are collaborating with neighbors.

[00:16:39] Yvette Rock: I like to call it a slow work. We’re not rushing. . And, sometimes people want us to rush. I feel like sometimes, the city wants us to rush and get things done and to have it look a certain way on the outside. But that’s not my intention. I wanna hear what others have to say. 

[00:16:58] Yvette Rock: Asking and working with [00:17:00] artists has been pretty beautiful. But again, a slow process. But the artists are trying to think , what can. Build. What can they create from material that’s onsite? For example, one of our artists, mark Schumack, used wood that was existent there, worked with a and o Landscaping.

[00:17:18] Yvette Rock: Our friend Gill in the neighborhood who has a mill. And turned some of these trees, some of these fallen things that are whatever, and turned them into this amazing, 10 foot sculpture archway that’s gonna be installed. So for me that is a collaborative work.

[00:17:36] Yvette Rock: It involves working with the community, with other artists to beautify and to have conversation with the land, again, and the community around what it means to make art together collaboratively. What it means to do community development in a sustainable, holistic way. And to infuse it with art and art education and expose others to the arts. 

[00:17:59] Michaela Ayers: I [00:18:00] appreciate the current state.

[00:18:02] Michaela Ayers: Nature is happening, changing constantly. It’s being activated even if it’s slow, even if we don’t see it. And then the invitation for an artist to say, oh, this is a material I use in my work. How can I collaborate with somebody who’s around me to turn this into a sculpture for somebody who’s walking by just to enjoy.

[00:18:23] Michaela Ayers: And in that way, I see that, cycle of rebirth happening through repatched in a really beautiful way.

[00:18:29] Yvette Rock: And

[00:18:30] Michaela Ayers: A question that came up from Jean Alicia was how has this commitment to the Brightmore area of Detroit, how has it impacted your artistic endeavors?

[00:18:44] Yvette Rock: Wow. This is so interesting. So probably, this is a bigger answer, but probably like four days ago, four or five days ago, I was ready to give up. Okay. I’ll be honest with you.[00:19:00] 

[00:19:01] Yvette Rock: I was ready to give up. And part of that is, as an artist and just a person, you run into challenges when, your intentions are not understood or when you’re targeted.

[00:19:15] Yvette Rock: To be honest, I feel very targeted and, we got a ticket from the city for the dump. And a lot of people go through this and it’s not like they’re giving up, but when my family and I are actively trying to work so hard to make things better and beautify things and get a slap on the face, it makes you just so discouraged.

[00:19:41] Yvette Rock: as an artist, I’ve been here 24 years. Trying to just, be present in the city, be an activator of things that are beautiful and helpful. And so that was really challenging for me as an artist. And other artists run into this [00:20:00] too, in creatives, I believe, where they are discouraged from moving forward in, in their practice even.

[00:20:07] Yvette Rock: But I was reinvigorated. I’m challenging the system and I’m not gonna accept, that kind of, response to this work. So all that to say as an artist, now I’m like fired up even more to, stand up for myself and for others who are doing this kind of work and then being targeted or when others are coming into our city, even from outside and dumping all their garbage on us.

[00:20:35] Yvette Rock: I haven’t called myself quite an activist because that’s a heavy word, and you can’t just be like, I’m an activist and you did one thing once in your life or something.

[00:20:44] Yvette Rock: But I realized I’ve been doing this for a while now, and today I feel. A little more confident saying I want to be an activist in this way, it’s not just about me, it’s other artists and creatives who are trying to do this work, in and around the city [00:21:00] and really calling and challenging the city to actually support. those of us who are working in this capacity to make a difference in the city, especially, who are trying to nurture spaces and places that have long been either abandoned, left, un-cared for, where crime has been high. Trying to make it a safer space for people to walk and navigate. All these things are important to me.

[00:21:28] Yvette Rock: And, I told my kids the whole story of what happened and they were like, yeah, but you’re not gonna give up, right? Cuz that’s just one thing. No mom, like you’ve been doing this to you can’t give up. Come on so they, they encouraged me to just get back up and, so that’s what I’m doing in multiple ways.

[00:21:43] Michaela Ayers: Wow. Well, thank you for that vulnerability and I relate to much to what you’re saying and as a black woman in terms of being perceived in a particular way and not valued. And not recognized for, the years of work that have been put into a particular place.[00:22:00] The care and the nurturing, like you’re saying, to transform a place into something beautiful for others, and then simultaneously the valley that comes when that’s threatened by an outside source. I relate to that as a black woman very much. But I also appreciate Yeah but it’s just firing me up.

[00:22:17] Michaela Ayers: And you know what was coming up for me as you’re talking about the care and the nurturing that you’ve been putting into this land, is that it sounds like you’re actively mothering this. Yes. And I know motherhood is a really big aspect of your work.

[00:22:32] Michaela Ayers: So I think that leads me to this question around, there’s so many intimate layers of motherhood in your art making, and so, what has this role of mother, what has it taught you about yourself? 

[00:22:48] Yvette Rock: Motherhood is probably the most vulnerable space that you’ll take me to in this conversation. So the motherhood series, [00:23:00] because that’s just, I mean, it’s who I am, right? I’m a mom of five amazing children.

[00:23:04] Yvette Rock: and

[00:23:09] Yvette Rock: motherhood is a constant reminder for me of the temporary existence of life. The fragility, it’s so powerful, motherhood, it impacts all of me to have these children come from my room and to be able to speak into their lives and to be able to witness their lives. From the get the bad and the ugly and all the challenges that come, and all the beautiful moments that come. And then to translate that into a work of art, is very personal, very vulnerable.

[00:23:51] Yvette Rock: And then to share it with the public is another level of vulnerability. But that is one of the beauties of having a studio practice. You get to. [00:24:00] discuss a lot of these emotions and thoughts with yourself in the studio and work them out. All these moments I’m capturing right, it’s motherhood and it’s memory.

[00:24:10] Yvette Rock: They go hand in hand because I know that moment that I’m thinking about in my head or that I photograph them, I know that’s not gonna be repeated with that particular child or children in that moment and. I am so blessed, so privileged to witness them and their lives and you get to capture it as an artist in multiple layers.

[00:24:37] Yvette Rock: So from the physical, I’m there witnessing it, that’s one experience to photographing it, I can go back and look at it, and then I’m now taking it another, the other level, and I’m putting it on a canvas. Whatever surface I’m working on or performance, I’ve done performances with all of them.

[00:24:56] Yvette Rock: So there’s just different ways that this experience of motherhood [00:25:00] translates to my art. By the time it gets from that initial real at the moment experience to all the studio time , I sometimes go back like years. I look at a foot from years ago, 10 years ago, . I look at that child and I’m like, oh, I wanna do a piece about that moment that happened 10 years ago. 

[00:25:19] Yvette Rock: For one of the series I’m working on called Teno Equilibrium, I’ve been documenting my firstborn daughter arise, in the same spot in Detroit for the last. This will be the 11th year. 

[00:25:35] Michaela Ayers: Wow. 

[00:25:38] Yvette Rock: We go back to that spot multiple times a year at least. We try to do it four times for every season. Documenting her in that space, documenting the space, showing conceptually the connection between the life of a human, my daughter in particular.

[00:25:59] Yvette Rock: To [00:26:00] that space, that land in the city of Detroit. And just seeing how they both transform, not knowing the future. And so it’s just like this documentation. arise and I talk about whoa, like years, looking back at that time period in that span of time, looking at her transformation and the transformation of that space in the city and having a conversation .

[00:26:22] Michaela Ayers: There were so many rich things in that share, in terms of motherhood and the vulnerability and, I think I’m holding onto the memories that you’re present for, but also actively capturing and then how your art allows you to return

[00:26:38] Michaela Ayers: and perhaps transform in some other capacity, that memory or that image. And so, I have the privilege to be here in your studio with you right now, sitting in front. One of your beautiful works. And so I wondered if we could talk about, this memory perhaps, and

[00:26:55] Michaela Ayers: what was the energy or mood that you were trying to evoke in this piece?

[00:26:59] Michaela Ayers: If you could [00:27:00] share the colors, the textures for our listeners who aren’t here.

[00:27:03] Yvette Rock: Yeah, this piece is, in Cedar’s Loving Arms and Cedar is my, second born child, my daughter, and she is holding chosen, who’s my youngest, just under two years old. And Cedar and Choson are a special pair and everybody in our house will say that.

[00:27:27] Yvette Rock: because

[00:27:28] Yvette Rock: Chosen is like Cedar’s twin in how she looks. It’s pretty fascinating. And Cedar, really loves chosen and is like a second mom to her. This was a moment in our home and the sunlight was coming through the window.

[00:27:48] Yvette Rock: It was like a golden, beautiful moment of the sunlight coming in and chosen just in cedars loving arms.

[00:27:55] Yvette Rock: And one of the things, when I was doing this piece, first of all, I made this surface [00:28:00] a while ago not knowing, and I just set it aside, which is not atypical. And then I was like,

[00:28:09] Yvette Rock: oh, this is what I need to do on top of the surface.

[00:28:13] Yvette Rock: And so I started this drawing and one of the recent, experimentations and practices I’ve been doing is working with, charcoal on painted surfaces, and not. Focus on capturing everything because that’s part of the fleeting moment. That tension of, this is never going to happen again. This moment with cedar and chosen standing in the hall with the sunlight beaming on them like this, and Cedar wearing this bright green outfit and headband and these funky, large blue glasses.

[00:28:54] Yvette Rock: And the clutch and the tender hold.

[00:28:58] Yvette Rock: It was beautiful [00:29:00] and the gestures and the light lines, for me referenced this idea of this fleeting moment, this memory with, cedar and chosen. 

[00:29:10] Michaela Ayers: Thank you for taking us into this piece. When I saw it online, it definitely drew me in because I was curious about where they are and their relationship. So thank you for giving us a little window into their connection as sisters, but also the color it’s like this beautiful wash of red and orange and yellow, which feels very loving.

[00:29:39] Michaela Ayers: And then to hear that it’s also a wash of the sun, it makes it feel very, very activating. And I think as humans we have an uncomfortable relationship with impermanence and so I appreciate that you are.

[00:29:52] Michaela Ayers: Not trying to get it exact because it’s not possible. 

[00:29:56] Yvette Rock: Right. Start there. Start with It’s always an abstract,

[00:29:59] Michaela Ayers: always [00:30:00] gonna be a little different than what is possible in real time. And like that tension between reality and what we can capture. And I definitely see that in your work and.

[00:30:12] Michaela Ayers: Your children are such a huge part of your work, so what has it been like for them to, see themselves in this way and interact with your art? 

[00:30:22] Yvette Rock: I often, I don’t do this with anyone else really, but my children are some of my first audience members, and I will take a photo of the piece in. very regularly, and I send it to them. I’ll take a pick and just send it to the ones who have phones, and, to give them a chance to just see it and witness it. And for me to hear back from them, what their thoughts are. It’s very vulnerable actually.

[00:30:51] Yvette Rock: I feel like with my kids, it’s so personal and it’s representing them. It’s important for me that connection just to give them a glimpse, [00:31:00] like I’m showing an image of you.

[00:31:02] Yvette Rock: I want you to see it. And, I remember at some point my boys being like, when are you gonna do us? You’re always doing the girls I’m like, oh yeah, I do, I definitely do more paintings. It’s very interesting to me. I don’t know the psychology behind it, I do tend to, paint my daughters and do more artwork of my daughters.

[00:31:24] Yvette Rock: And, recently I started to do my son. I have two boys, and, I’m enjoying it. So I love that they, picked up on that. They’re like, Hey, mama, what about us?

[00:31:35] Michaela Ayers: by the way,

[00:31:36] Yvette Rock: what’s going on? Remember you got two boys? and of course I think it’s because I’m a female and a mom and just like I connect with that more naturally, I think.

[00:31:45] Yvette Rock: And my youngest daughter. My beautiful gift the last couple years I think, is just such a reflection of unexpected of life and the beautiful and the miracle, the miraculous. Now I’m really captivated by [00:32:00] representing her. It doesn’t mean I love my other kids less or anything.

[00:32:03] Yvette Rock: I just think me telling her story is Telling my story right now. in life. And so I’m just like capturing as much as I can with what I’m feeling right now.

[00:32:14] Marker tempted to cut right here. 

[00:32:14] Michaela Ayers: I guess on that same tip, thinking about legacy, the last question I have is what is your vision for your art, for your community a hundred years from now, like how would you wanna be remembered?

[00:32:28] Yvette Rock: I started Live Coal Gallery as a small business, just one woman owned small business here in the city, and part of my reason for starting Live Coal Gallery was

[00:32:42] Yvette Rock: wanted to find a way to be a bridge between young artists, totally new in the art world to long established artists and how to connect these populations. I found a lot of times there’s this, sometimes there’s this hierarchy in the [00:33:00] art world and in the art market, and it makes it really hard for younger, newer artists, who want to make art their career. And so I found one of my purposes was giving artists their first step into that.

[00:33:15] Yvette Rock: And I’m really thankful for the many years of being able to do that to host some of these artists, like their first shows or their first solo show , and dropping that whole, I need to have all these things to get a solo show. I’m just like, no, just come have a solo show here, or a small group show versus always just in these large group shows.

[00:33:31] Yvette Rock: So I, I hope that I’ve been able to make that kind of an impact on artists in the city. From the youngest to even the established artists, sometimes we think, oh, they’re an established artist. They don’t need X, Y, Z, but no, you’ve been doing this for 30, 40 years. You still want opportunities to show your work.

[00:33:49] Yvette Rock: You still, want your work to speak to those in the world. And so I love being able to give, opportunities to a lot of artists. Art is essential to me. [00:34:00] In our community and in our life. And I wanna keep pushing that, to have our community and our world realize art is essential.

[00:34:08] Yvette Rock: The ability, to make and create is essential. And then, I think for my kids, for my kids I want ’em, the most important thing is that they know I love them. 

[00:34:18] Yvette Rock: That in terms of legacy,

[00:34:20] Yvette Rock: So I could do a thousand million great acts in the world. And I feel like if my impact on my own children hasn’t been one of love and, significance, then don’t know. I don’t know if it, it wouldn’t have been worth it for me if my own household didn’t appreciate me as a mom, as an, wife, friend, sister. 

[00:34:45] Yvette Rock: So that’s the most important legacy because that legacy will allow them to become a legacy to others. And so even with Live Cole Gallery, and last year finally I decided to become a [00:35:00] nonprofit and why I resisted for so long to become a non-profit is because I wanted to have the voice and be able to direct how I wanted to impact the community, myself.

[00:35:12] Yvette Rock: When I became a non-profit, I finally realized this is actually how I get to. Another legacy with the community gift, this public organization that the public can own and last longer in the city, the work that it would last beyond me. So , When I pass, if live coal is still happening, that is amazing.

[00:35:38] Yvette Rock: I won’t know cuz I’ll be gone. But I hope that it does outlive me. That would be a beautiful thing for the activation and the renewal in our land, in our city to continue. people have been doing this for years and , I’m just coming alongside what others have been doing also.

[00:35:57] [00:36:00] A sincere thanks to Yvette Rock for joining us in this episode. If you would like to learn more about her work and see the beautiful image of in Cedar’s Loving Arms that we discussed, head on over to our Instagram that is linked in the show notes 

[00:36:26] and we got something special for y’all. This. If you wanna hear how people in Detroit respond to Yvette’s work, then you do not wanna miss our Community voice episode.

[00:36:37] It is live in your feed, so please take a listen. 

[00:36:43] This episode of Black Her Stories was produced and edited by me with the support of Sophia E, Jasmine Parks, and Jean Alicia E. Our music is by artist, composer, and my dear friend [00:37:00] Chris Sims.

[00:37:02] As always, I would love to know what resonated with you about our conversation.

[00:37:09] Don’t be shy. Drop me a line at 

[00:37:16] Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, please take good care.