Visiting Art Curator Talks About Helping MOCAD 'Amplify the Magic of Detroit'

March 16, 2019, 6:36 AM

Larry Ossei-Mensah, who lives in New York and comes here regularly as a senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, describes hmself as a nomadic globetrotter.

Larry Ossei-Mensah at a MOCAD show of Tyree Guyton works last fall.
(Facebook photo by Stanley Lumax)

As an independent curator and arts entrepreneur, the 38-year-old is "traveling everywhere all the time," he tells Isabella Grullón Paz of The New York Times

The nomadic component of my practice is really kind of what fuels it. New York has its own energy, pace and tension. And Detroit is a city that's redefining itself, and to be part of that moment — it's just a rare life opportunity.

The Ghanaian-American, who grew up in the Bronx and still lives there, last month opened "Parallels and Peripheries" -- a 10-week MOCAD exhibition by 12 artists through April 14. He speaks with Paz about "the magic of Detroit." Excerpts:

Respecting Detroit: "I've done my best to be aware and listen and not try to project my ideas, and to spend time with artists and curators on the ground who really know the city.
"Detroit is a very nuanced space, so for me, it's about how can we amplify the magic of Detroit? How do we find the diamonds in the rough who have been grinding, doing their thing, and give them a platform?
"That doesn't just mean an exhibition in the museum, but it could be recommending them for, like, an art prize or a show. I never want to be a savior, I always want to be a good neighbor, and add value where I can."

"I never want to be a savior."

Being inclusive: "In the case of Detroit, it's how do we create that space, or amplify the magic of that space, in a generous, generative way? And how do you bring people with you? How do you watch out for each other? How do you make sure everyone is good?
"Because you got a lot of people who will put up a front, to save face. Nah, we got to do this together."

MOCAD challenges: "It's definitely a continuous work in progress. You're continuously trying to make the shows weirder or more tactile. . . . MOCAD's definitely taught me how to be more patient and not try and do everything at one time."

♦ Goals: "Continuing to spend more time in Detroit, do more studio visits and putting my hand on the pulse."


Read more:  The New York Times

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Potd__mg_9613-2_155 Metal sculpture in the Hart Plaza Civic Center, Detroit

By: Michael Lucido