In the second part of an interview with Kartemquin Films, artist John Rozelle talks about a few of his recent pieces and explains the reactions he aims to invoke with his artwork.
00:56Copy video clip URL John Rozelle explains his thinking when he was asked to participate in the Spertus Museum of Judaica’s 1994 exhibition, “Bridges and Boundaries: Chicago Crossings.” He says he hopes his pieces can be a source of dialogue, as he believes Americans don’t talk enough about things.
3:21Copy video clip URL Rozelle explains the subtle nature of commentary in his artwork and the benefits of forcing viewers to bring their own preconceptions to a piece rather than blatantly presenting a message.
4:23Copy video clip URL Rozelle displays “Red Summer Swimmer,” a piece inspired by the murder of Eugene Williams that sparked the Chicago race riots of 1919.
7:10Copy video clip URL Rozelle talks about a work in progress from his “The Middle Passage” project; a piece that depicts the Jews’ role in the Atlantic slave trade as well as their inclusion of Blacks during the spread of the Labor movement.
11:10Copy video clip URL Rozelle talks about another piece inspired by the deaths of three freedom writers who were killed in Mississippi: James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Rozelle describes how Cheney, a Black man, was beaten much more severely than Goodman or Schwerner, who were both New York Jews. “I would not feel comfortable being somewhere in some gallery, being that direct and talking to somebody, because it doesn’t help them that much… to give them all the details. I’m not trying to inform them about some specifics, I want them to have some [personal] feelings,” explains Rozelle.
17:50Copy video clip URL Rozelle expresses his hopes for the show, saying he’s looking for “more dialogue to be created” because “people are afraid to talk about stuff; or they’re afraid to be honest about stuff.”
19:18Copy video clip URL Rozelle references the interdependence of Jews and Blacks in Chicago. “[Maxwell St.] is an area in which Blacks in Chicago always went to shop, they continue to shop there today. It’s not that we don’t interact, we have been since we’ve been here, in one way or another,” claims Rozelle.