the vulnerability of Black Artistry, a dialogue with AMBROSE RHAPSODY MURRAY

What makes an Artist? What does being an Artist mean to you?

A committed practice to making things, putting creation out to the world in whatever form that may be.

What are your thoughts on creating with vulnerability?

We have to be vulnerable for the art to mean something, so you don’t really have a choice if you want to create Art that’s impactful- that people feel themselves in, or feel something in. And I think that’s why Black Art is the bedrock of global culture. It’s vulnerable at heart.

How do you define vulnerability?

Bearing your soul, bearing the complexities of what it means to be alive- that there’s good parts and bad parts. Telling story with emotion. I don’t think it’s vulnerable to tell someone else’s story though- like, people who don’t tap into their own personal experience.

Misty Blues II, 2021

What’s your relationship to self exploration?

Constant. I’ve been working with family photos- which is definitely self exploration. Thinking about my family, the dynamics of family, and what I come from. But also, I’ve just been working on becoming more aware of my own emotions, and what’s going on with me. It’s a lifelong process, but I’ve made some progress. It’s helped to take a break from sugar. And instead of binging on sugar, I’ll ask myself if I’m hungry or if there’s something going on internally that I’m trying to cover with a serotonin boost. And it’s actually making me pause and check in.

What gives you comfort in the mystery of your exploring?

The space of my practice is one of the only places where I feel like I can 100% trust my own intuition, and feelings about what I want to do. Which, I don’t always feel in everyday life- but in the studio, when it’s me and my materials, I can trust myself.

What is often missed, forgotten, or washed away in the retelling of Black stories?

So much. I feel like the platforms given to hold, and share Black stories are often very flat, and don’t capture the depth of how people are actually living and relating to one another. There are other stories to tell. Even when I talk about my own stuff, I’ve noticed myself focusing on trauma narratives. But it’s hard not to, when that’s our history. That’s the history of this country for so many people- for everyone. But, also, I don’t want to be telling stories of ‘resilience’ or ‘strength’, you know?

Phthalo Memory, 2022

What do you want to leave behind in the legacy of your Art?

I’m trying to figure that out. I’ve been thinking about trying to carve my own path as an Artist, and how to work with people more directly while still being an Artist. I’ve taken a break from working in community, and with young people, and I’m wondering if I should go back to school so that I feel more equipped. When I was working with young people, they had so much going on in their personal lives- it felt scary to know what do after seeing, and validating it.

What do you want those kids to know about themselves?

For a lot of the young people I’ve worked with- if they’re coming from environments that aren’t safe and loving in stable ways, they can internalize that. And a lot of kids start to believe that something is wrong with them. And, if you believe that you’re not worthy, then it’s easier for you to be violent, or in violent situations… maybe even think it’s okay when others aren’t treating you well. It’s just cycles. Really, I’d love to have the tools for young people to know their own value. And not in respectability ways, like ‘I’m valuable because I dress properly, or have a napkin in my lap.’

How can this community support you in your work?

I would love to teach people about contemporary Black visual Art, because that’s what I’m obsessed with. It would be cool if there were opportunities to do that.

Blue Fortune, 2021

Thank you AMBROSE, we celebrate you, your Art, and your Place here in this community.

Find more of AMBROSE RHAPSODY MURRAY’s work here,

Support them by shouting out their work, and giving a follow to their IG here.


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