Don’t You Feel It Too?

On June 7, 2016, Forecast Public Art hosted an artist talk by one of our  favorite creative practitioners, Marcus Young 楊墨, at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Marcus is a practicing artist and was a City Artist for the City of Saint Paul for nine years, where he launched  a number of public art initiatives, including the beloved Saint Paul Sidewalk Poetry project.

Marcus introduced himself to the attendees by playing a card game, emphasizing that he was not playing with a full deck. The crowd chuckled. His thoughtful, light hearted humor had us mesmerized (and he proceeded to take us on a journey through the annals of his rich artistic work).

BA + MFA = WTF?

After the Charleston church shooting that took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, President Obama asked the country to practice an “open heart.” Even though we have had years of opportunities through conflict and trauma, we are not taught how to practice an open heart. All of our schooling has not taught us about ourselves, our hearts. Are we missing something in all these years of training?

Human Microphone

Marcus presented an interactive practice where attendees became a “human microphone,” (a practice employed by activists restricted by the inability to use amplified sound during gatherings and protests. Young recited the Vietnam draft response of recently deceased legend, Muhammad Ali, (a portion of which I quote here):

“The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.”

Rows of people repeated his (softly spoken) words and the message was amplified (to the full room).

Move Honestly, Even Foolishly.

Young’s current project, Don’t You Feel It, Too? is the practice of freeing our spirits through dancing our inner lives in public places. As he shared the story of this work, I messily scribbled down the following words on the back of a grocery list:

  • Move honestly, even foolishly.
  • Act of bravery.
  • Revealing
  • Vulnerable

I don’t know how many artist talks I have attended or even presented (a billion?), but this one was extraordinary. I left feeling empowered and with a new sense of purpose. A freedom to imagine a la “Grace Minnesota” style.

Thank you, Marcus, this work is needed more now than ever.

Marcus Young

Marcus Young 楊墨 is a behavioral and social practice artist making work for the stage, museums, and the public realm. His work expands the repertoire of human behavioral practice, and the expressivity of city and community. Marcus has a BA in music from Carleton College and an MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota. From 2006 to 2015, he served as City Artist in St. Paul, MN. Learn more at graceminnesota.orgThanks to the McKnight Foundation for hosting this event.