Beyond Words at the American Jazz Museum

Back in the early summer I got the invite and chance to meet with the good folks over at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. The curators Sonie Joi Ruffin and Glenn North were putting together a show mixing Poetry and Visual artists. Glenn North was focused on getting poetry that created visual references but also was installed on the walls to literally make an image on the wall with the words. When I was asked to be a part of the show it was a little hard for me to put together how I fit into the whole process. I knew that part of what they were looking for was artists that use words and they felt like that since I did so much work on the streets that it would be a good fit. When I started to read more about Jazz I came across a glossary of Jazz words used and invented by Jazz History. When I started to go over the words and definitions and reflect on how many of them were different parts of the songs and tools, it started to come together how similar is was to how I approached a wall and really any of my work. If there was a second real passion I had in my life growing up besides art it was playing the Sax. I always enjoyed Jazz Band and remembered having to improvise on the spot. Over the course of weeks I went through sketches, photos and paintings and just started to put them in piles. I didn’t want to over plan anything and approach the install the same way my teacher would just point at me and say go. In music so much of it ties into the scales you learned over the years. I stared installing sketches and unfinished history of mine on the wall without any real plan….I just knew I was going to use a desk “woodshed” ( jazz term ) as a starting point on the wall, use my sketches “scales” as my beginning and let the improvising start up and away from the begging of the song. There was a couple things I was hoping to get across as people come in to visit this exhibit. All of the arts are important to give to the community, many of us start the same way and have the same creative drive, and street art and jazz have a similar history in how it was accepted over time and the hardships they both faced. I also imagined young kids who go there over the year on field trips to learn about the process of making art and Jazz terms on the wall they may have never heard or seen. ┬áThank you to The American Jazz Museum, Sonie and Glenn for allowing me to be a part of this show. It was a great time of reflection for me.