A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
THURSDAY MARCH 8th, 2012
There is a unique gift that being in school offers to those that are willing to accept it. Aside from the daily classes and curriculum where, hopefully learning occurs, there is the bonus opportunity to discover and explore your own thinking and creative point of view by connecting with and bouncing off of others searching for knowledge. For artist Wesley Taylor his time at the University of Michigan and then Cranbrook Academy of Art yielded not only a Masters in Fine Art in 2-D Graphic Design, but also the friendships, connections and experiences that have fostered big thinking.
“I like complexity over simplicity,” states Taylor as he discusses his inspirations and points of view. “the future and the idea that the future holds things that have been predicted but are not possible yet inspires me -things like time travel. A lot of my artistic endeavors are centered on my favorite themes of science and complexity. I see complexity in the structure of nature and scientific principles but I also see complexity in communities.”
Ideas about community have evolved for Taylor from his time at U-M where in addition to his course of study in the arts he was promoting and performing in hip-hop musical performances and creating community by doing what he calls “scene building” – which for him was participating in throwing shows, performing, and growing audiences. It was these experiences that led him to establishing a media company called Emergence Media with his long time friend and hip-hop artist, Invincible. “Emergence Media is deeply rooted in activist work – through this work I find myself being involved in community building,” said Taylor. “Our interconnectivity can bring about change, and that is the idea that our company was founded on – emergent theory. We draw inspiration from change, and display those images of change in performance. We emulate those images using new technology.”
Through his association with Invincible, Wes Taylor was introduced to community activist, Grace Lee Boggs, who created a program called Detroit Summer for young people from pre-high school age to those transitioning to college. The summer program is youth-led and focuses on projects or issues selected by the students to positively affect the community. Last summer Taylor was an artist-in-residence for the Detroit Summer program to help guide the students during their summer quest for change.
While still at Cranbrook, several of Taylor’s fellow students began talking about a cooperative art studio. Those conversations laid the ground work for “Talking Dolls,” a collective of five now-Cranbrook-graduates with diverse talents and disciplines. The space allows for members to pursue their own art, create regular critiquing events and the possibility of a residency for three current Cranbrook art students. Taylor’s long term vision for the studio collective expands beyond the Detroit studio, to a far flung network of studios in creative hubs across the country and the world, with a structure similar to a vacation time share. “This idea came from a conversation at school about how to help artists that are often called to a nomadic lifestyle as they pursue shows and sales through art fairs,” comments Taylor. The challenge as Taylor sees it is to answer the question “…how will I still be relevant in a global market?”
Going forward, Taylor sees himself managing the Detroit Talking Dolls studio collective as part of a larger network as he acknowledges more options. “There are an infinite amount of possible futures and that makes me think about hope and wonder, not apocalyptic endings,” shared Taylor. The artist thinks about future this way, “…the spoils go to the people that can predict the future, the ones with the most creative predictions of the future. Here in Detroit, artists can think about the city as rich with creative opportunity. There are so many open spaces or voids for new ideas to flow in. Possibilities can happen in those voids. One of my favorite art themes is inspired by OSB (the composite wood often used to board-up vacant buildings). I see through the cracks between the boards into the void. That is the potential behind those boarded up buildings.”
Wesley Taylor is moving through life with several titles – musician, artist, graphic designer, teacher, curator of art and community builder. Whatever the title, Wesley Taylor is one to watch – for the future.