I define art as an expressive interpretation of thoughts and emotions through creativity. Visual art is one of the most vivid forms of artistry. Detroit is a birthplace and home to an array of talented, eccentric, and experimental visual artists. This collective of Detroit artists have changed the world. Personally the drive and independence of Tyree Guyton’s commitment to the Heidelberg Project is my inspiration for Detroit is Different (my media), Creative Differences Marketing (my business), and If Detroit were Heaven (my music). Today I am glad to introduce you to the April 2015 features for Detroit is Different, the Visual Artists: Jocelyn Rainey and Mike Willingham.
Jocelyn Rainey is an arts professor at Wayne County Community College District. Currently (week of April 4 – 11, 2015) she’s in China with a group of Detroit high school students for a living arts project, “Finding Mona Lisa.” Finding Mona Lisa 313 is a documentary about Jocelyn Rainey’s commitment to her belief that through visual arts she will peak Black male students interests in arts, family, business, and most importantly themselves. Using visual art as a vehicle to expose and encourage her students is her goal.
Jocelyn has been an artist her whole life. Her works range in form, idea, and concept. I met Jocelyn years ago as a partner of the 1440 Studio Collective. Jocelyn was one of our neighbors and biggest 1440 supporters. During the summer of 2009 she was creating an abstract piece that was a 20 foot structure of a woman in jeans. Jocelyn stitched together a series of jeans, of varying material, texture, and fabric to create a piece that I witnessed come together before my eyes. Jocelyn is also has a charming sense of humor that challenges the idea of the introverted artist. Knowing her personality and passion for arts has expanded into classrooms reaching Detroiters is great. Knowing Jocelyn now is taking her students across the world for the appreciation of art is excellent!
Mike Willingham is one of my closest friends. I ‘m blessed to have a network of so many people from all walks of life. More than anyone else I believe Mike is most understanding of where I’ve gone, where I am, and where I plan to go. Mike’s expression has taken on many dynamics of visual art. The beauty of Mike’s works are his forms match his experience and growth. Willingham works as an artist daily drafting blueprints for automotive design. His aptitude and ease of glassworks and design is applied to a collection of artistry he makes as products and expression. Mike’s work has ranged from sketches, tattoos, air brushing, water color painting, digital sketching, and now his own form of sneaker artistry. Mike’s never limited in form, style or canvas. I find Mike’s artistry as a grounds for which to write my hip-hop lyrics. The genius of his impactful and lasting clothing line ‘Grind Ave’ helped inspire the ‘Detroit is Different’ brand.
Mike is a member of a collective of my closest friends (B, B Hen, BJ, Carl, Casey, Chico, Dawon, Derrick, Desean, Geno, Jerrin, LP, Mike G – R.I.P., Phil, Tristin, Zae). Since the 90’s we’ve all been together. As long as I’ve known Mike artistry has been a focus of his professional and personal life. Today he is one of the featured artists connecting with the Hip-hop & Art shows at Bob’s Classic Kicks. There you can see his new sneaker works like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ sneakers he made in honor of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. He also owns and operates the ‘Grind Ave’ clothing line.
I’m very excited to continue to share content about the people and places creating cultural for and from Detroit here at Detroit is Different. April 2015 I feature the Visual Artist: Jocelyn Rainey and Mike Willingham.