Detroit’s Own Rashaun Rucker Gets First Solo Exhibit at MOCAD In Tribute To The Church

Born and raised in the American South, Rucker reminisces on the church as a space for communal gathering, familial intimacy, and identity development.

Rashaun Rucker's First solo exhibit at MOCAD. Photo Credit: CJ Benniger
Rashaun Rucker's First solo exhibit at MOCAD. Photo Credit: CJ Benniger

Relief From the Heat presents Detroit-based artist Rashaun Rucker’s ruminations on intergenerational identity and kinship sustained within the Black Church. Born and raised in the American South, Rucker reminisces on the church as a space for communal gathering, familial intimacy, and identity development. Nationally recognized for his printmaking and draftsman work, this exhibition is a return to Rucker’s roots as a photojournalist, the career that brought him to the Midwest via a job at the Detroit Free Press. Reflecting on his journey as a creative, Rucker expands the medium of documentary photography and drawing to present an installation of brand new multi medium works.

Relief From the Heat on exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in partnership with the International Studio & Curatorial Program and is a nod to the aunties, uncles, and cousins who created a village that grew Rucker into the artist he is today.  

“It’s (Relief From the Heat) about honoring people who helped you along the way. Somebody asked me, what’s going to be the biggest joy, there’s no cash, I was like, really watching my grandmother walking into a museum and seeing herself,” says Rucker. “I want to put them on a pedestal that they rightly deserve.”

Rucker’s Background

Rashaun Rucker is a product of North Carolina Central University and Marygrove College. He makes  photographs, prints, and drawings and has won over 40 national and state awards. His work has been featured in HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness and the film Native Son. He was named a  Sustainable Arts Foundation awardee in 2020 and awarded a prestigious International Studio &  Curatorial Program (ISCP) residency and a Mellon residency at the University of Michigan Institute of Humanities in 2021.

“Drawing is and always will be my first love. But when I was in college, I went to school at a small HBCU in Durham, North Carolina, I had a professor who was very much like if you’re going to try to be a successful black artist, you got to be a boy scout knife, you got to know how to like go in and out of all types of mediums,” remembers Rucker. “That’s why I work in so many mediums because he was like you need that to get to the apex of where you want to be. So I never really locked in on one thing. And now when I have shows, usually every show is different.”

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Rashaun Rucker’s First solo exhibit at MOCAD. Photo Credit: CJ Benniger

Relief From the Heat on exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in partnership with the International Studio & Curatorial Program. This exhibition is supported by the International Studio  & Curatorial Program and the Kettering Family Foundation with additional support provided by M Contemporary Art.  

“My mom always tells me, “write down the vision and make it plain”. So I do believe in like, kind of drawing things and kind of manifesting, like, let me put action into it. So, I was drawing these fans. I thought the scale would be impactful. I think the only reference people have ever seen a church fan is as a handheld thing. And like I said, I wanted to show black people on a larger scale, like, larger than life.

RaShaun Rucker

To learn more about Rashaun Rucker, visit rashaunrucker.com. 

Contributor Laura Gibson, Conducted the Interview for this article. Learn more about her work here.

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