Art Series Expresses Faith in Detroit’s Future

By Stan Friedman

DETROIT, MI (April 29, 2013) – One might think that an artist whose major series of mixed-media pieces titled “The 10 Plagues of Detroit” might be pessimistic about the city, but Yvette Rock is a true believer.

Rock’s faith in Detroit was evidenced in part by the recent grand opening of her Live Coal Gallery (LCG), located on the first floor of the two-flat where she lives in the city’s low-income Woodbridge neighborhood.

Rock, whose family attends Messiah Covenant Church, says the gallery will highlight the works of Detroit high school artists alongside those of more established as well as emerging artists. She writes on the website that, “LCG also will set up hands-on art experiences for children an families and collaborate with businesses, organizations, and schools on community art projects.

She and her husband, Joshua, who is executive director of the non-profit organization YouthWorks-Detroit, have committed themselves to the restoration of the city for more than a decade. They both say they felt called to come to the city.

YouthWorks-Detroit provides leadership training, mission opportunities, art programs, and biblical training for youth and young adults. She has served in multiple ways, including as artist-in-residence with Detroit Public Schools.

But about those plagues. The series, she says, was divinely inspired. One morning in 2003, she sensed God leading her to Exodus 31:1-4, which begins with God telling Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skill to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze.”

At first she didn’t understand, but says she began to conceive the idea for a three-part art series. The first focuses on the plagues in Egypt. In the Ten Plagues of Detroit, Rock turns her attention to plagues such as addiction, poverty, arson and fire. Each piece features a portrait or portraits of men who she and her husband have mentored in an after-school program.

The series of three-by-six-foot pieces is inspired by Isaiah 58 and makes special note of the 12th verse: “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.”

Rock says she hopes the art will help the people of Detroit and others that come to the city to confront the realities – and then be stirred to transform them. That hope for transformation will be reflected in the last of the three-part series, which she already has entitled, “Redemption from the Plagues.” Images of her work can be found on her website. Click here to view additional photos.

The Rocks live in a neighborhood that is beginning to rebound. People sit out on their front porches and neighbors stop to talk to one another.

The change can literally be seen in mural projects the Rocks have helped lead. The murals were painted by young people and are part of an ongoing movement throughout the city.

Yvette says Detroit is experiencing a resurgence of the arts and points to the increase in the number of galleries and support for the city’s art museum. More importantly, she says, the city is experiencing a spiritual revival.

The Rocks say they hope that when the Evangelical Covenant Church holds its Annual Meeting in Detroit later this year June 27-30), the delegates and others will experience that revival. A special event – Covenant Mission Detroit – precedes the Annual Meeting and will provide participants hands-on experiences with life and ministry in Detroit.

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