Southfield Public Arts Commission presents Black History Month art exhibition and public reception February 24

February 20, 2023

share this on  Facebook   Twitter   Email

Local artists showcase original artworks that celebrate African Americans

Mayor Kenson Siver and the Southfield Public Arts Commission will present a special Black History Month exhibition of artworks by local African American artists Yvette Rock, Lonnell Hurst, and Raymond Wells including an Artists Opening Reception on Friday, February 24 from 6-8 p.m. in the Southfield City Hall Main Lobby, 26000 Evergreen Road.

The Southfield Public Arts Commission curates a new exhibit of local artists' work quarterly. The exhibition of work by Yvette Rock, Lonnell Hurst, and Raymond Wells will be on display in the main lobby of Southfield City Hall from February 4 to April 28. All of the works exhibited are also offered for sale to the public.


Yvette Rock


Yvette Rock was born in Paramaribo, Suriname in 1975. Her family sought political asylum in the United States after fleeing Suriname in 1983. Rock has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Michigan. She is the co-founder of Detroit Connections, an on-going program that connects U of M students, staff and faculty with Detroit schools.

Rock began working as an artist-in-residence for InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit in 1999, where she continues teaching art to children in grades K-12. In 2001, she moved to Detroit, where she has dedicated the past two decades of her life to bringing art to Detroiters of all ages. She is the founder and Executive Director of Live Coal, and the founder and CEO of Live Coal Gallery, LLC, a 2017, 2019, and 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Winner. Rock is also a 2019 Facing Change: Documenting Detroit Fellow. She is also a mother of 5 children, a role she displays in her work.

Rock made the following statement about her work: “I am a visual artist creating works on canvas, paper, found objects, and wood. I am not locked into one type of style; instead, I foster a dialogue between the concept and process. I desire to make moving pieces layered with meaning; art that is ambitious, technical, and experimental; art that is bold, detailed, and unpredictable. I explore topics such Motherhood, from a biological, aesthetic, and spiritual perspective while often reflecting on my own journey as a mother of five children; Identity, wrestling with personal and societal ideas about self, blackness, and multiculturalism; Memory, contemplating the passage of time and its impact on human life, objects, and the natural world; and Spirituality, seeing prayer as a medium that helps me understand life and death, light and shadows, materialism and the ephemeral. The use of symbols and imagery such as circles, dolls, birds, leaves, flowers, and houses are also often a part of my visual language.”


Lonnell Hurst


Lonnell Hurst has participated in several art exhibitions including the Colored Pencil Society of Art 25th  National/International Show in Dunedin, FL, the 2019-2020 NCA Annual Heritage Show in Detroit, MI, the Gilda Snowden Art Gallery at the Detroit Repertory Theatre in 2018, the Rosenthal Gallery  Fayetteville State University Call It Black " National Photography Show" in Fayetteville, NC in 2018, the Belle Isle Art Fair, the National Conference of Artist Group Show, and many others.

Hurst states the following about his work: “If it only started with just a line or the rays of a light, it wouldn't take much for the completion. But these light sources and lines come from a much higher source that an artist can imagine. The inner force of God makes it work. With a handful of pencils or the change of a lens. The vehicle for this visual communication is set for motion. Shapes, textures, rhythms, and all its blending adhering to paper is its only start. Pushing past and invading boundaries, the artwork evolves. With these tools, I'm allowed to start or to rebuild. I pray that stories are gained, and new beginnings are inspired by my images. The work is of love, not an abstraction of life, but my reality.”


Raymond Wells

Raymond Wells was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1931. He was first exposed to art in kindergarten. As a child, Wells enjoyed reading newspaper comics and would try to re-create them. He learned to draw airplanes in the 7th grade and remembers working on a scroll with a Chinese student, where he illustrated his experience during World War II. He studied at Wayne State University School of Fine Arts, and later the Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College of Creative Studies) but had to put his education on hold when he was drafted into the Korean War. After his military service was completed, Wells finished his education and took a job creating advertisements for a local store in his neighborhood. Later in his career, Wells worked as a graphic and fine artist and a cartographic draftsman for the Detroit Computing Center. Wells later became an art teacher for the Inkster Public Schools.

Wells was artist-in-residence at Herman Kiefer Hospital - Children’s Division. He continues to share his experience in art with talented youth. He worked with NIFTA (New Initiative for the Arts) and the National Conference of Artists - Michigan Chapter. He also formed a youth art mentorship program at Detroit’s St. Cecilia Church. He also worked as a mentor for the Artist League of Michigan and the Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan.

Mr. Wells’ work has been displayed in galleries and museums throughout the country. The subject matter of his artwork is influenced by his world travels. He illustrates his life experiences, which define who he is and the beauty of his culture. Mr. Wells paints with oils and acrylics on canvas, board and paper to create representational art, but he also enjoys the challenge of creating artwork in new mediums.

Raymond Wells made the following Artist Statement: Raymond Wells has adopted in many of his works the subject matter of the children of the world, especially those in Africa.  His humility is expressed in the human spirit.  As an African American artist, he feels a strong responsibility to acquire as many resources for his works as possible.  He consistently reviews many resources that influence his creativity.  Historical themes and other subject matter inspired by others, give vision, and focus to his art.  This inspiration has given him an added incentive to recreate ideas that come from these varied sources; to this end, he has visited many countries, embraced a variety of environments studied books and photo journalistic documents. He recreates the experience of his art compositions with the same feeling and purpose as a director creating a play or motion picture.  He demonstrates his compassion for humanity, which may be shared by his viewers.

About the Southfield Public Arts Commission

The Southfield Public Arts Commission was established in 2015 to advise the City Council on matters affecting public art in the city. The goal of this commission is to create a stimulating environment that reflects and enhances the City's heritage, diversity, and character through public artworks integrated in the architecture, infrastructure, and landscape.

Flyer design by Yvette Rock.