Michael Massenburg: The Activist Who Believes ‘Artists Are the Voice of the People’ [Podcast]
If you’re a regular listener of the NOT REAL ART podcast, you’ll probably agree that art can educate, provoke thought, and elicit a wide range of emotions.
Today’s guest believes that as long as an artist can make their audience feel something, they’re on the right path. Born in San Diego, raised in South Central LA, and based in Inglewood, Michael Massenburg is a teaching artist and community organizer who explores the African diaspora through a wealth of mixed-media work. “I always do work about [community, my family, social and political issues, and history] because those are things that were lacking in my childhood understanding growing up,” he tells NOT REAL ART.
In today’s episode, host and NOT REAL ART founder Scott “Sourdough” Power sits down with Michael Massenburg to discuss the multidisciplinary artist’s socially informed practice. “I have so many questions and so many things I don’t know, especially outside the United States, that I need to find for myself,” Michael tells Scott early in the interview.” It’s about finding out who you are as a human being, finding out who you are as far as your roots.”
Combining collage, painting, and photography, Michael creates assemblages that explore the history and culture of the African diaspora in the Americas. “Being able to [visit] different areas [and see] different cultures was important because it changed my whole perspective about being an African born in America,” says Michael, who is what some might call an “artivist” (art activist). Devoting much of his time to art education, lectures, and community organizing, Michael’s role goes far beyond navel-gazing artist.
In today’s episode, Michael shares how travel shaped his perspective, why he believes he was called to be an artist, and why labels like “Black art” are important. He also discusses how his former organization, The Collective, carried the torch for Black artists and why Michael believes artists and educators can be a voice for the oppressed. Tune into today’s episode with Michael Massenburg for an enlightening conversation on the importance of community, education, and emotion.