Detroit Performs

CLIP

Detroit Performs Clip: Chido Johnson

Born in Zimbabwe during the apartheid, artist Chido Johnson uses his multicultural background to create stone carvings and beautiful works of art. Episode 121/Segment 2.

AIRED: November 19, 2013 | 0:05:20
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TRANSCRIPT

CHIDO JOHNSON WAS BORN AND RAISED IN ZIMBABWE AND IS NOW

LIVING IN DETROIT. HERE HE SHOWS HOW HE APPLIES

BOTH CULTURES IN HIS ARTWORK. >> I WAS BORN IN ZIMBABWE.

>> THE CITY WAS WHERE MY PARENTS WORKED AT.

IT WAS A MISSION WHERE MY PARENTS WORKED.

THEY DIDN'T FOLLOW THE EXISTING GOVERNMENT LAWS, WHICH IS APARTH

APARTHIDE WHICH IS WAS A NO, NO. MY FATHER STARTED TO DO RESEARCH

FOR A PAPER, A PAPER THAT WAS FOR THE REVOLUTION AND ONE OF

THE TOOLS BECAME INTEREST NATIONAL AND THAT LED TO

HIS DEPORTIONATION. MY MOTHER WAS A DOCTOR AT THE

HOSPITAL AND MY FATHER STARTED TEACHING ART IN HIGH SCHOOL AND

HE WAS MY ART TEACHER. I GUESS I FOLLOWED THE FAMILY

BUSINESS, YOU KNOW? >> TO BECOME AN ARTIST.

I NEVER QUESTIONED BEING AN ARTIST.

SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO SINCE I WAS A KID.

I'M COMING FROM A HANDS ON CHILDHOOD AND CARVED IN STONE

THE OBJECT, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME.

I'M INTERESTED IN THE OBJECT. AND I'M VERY INTERESTED IN THE

SEARCH FOR SOMETHING THAT'S REAL IN THE OBJECT, AND NOT SOMETHING

THAT'S JUST PLACE MEANING ON IT THROUGH BORROWED

EXPERIENCES AND HISTORY. THERE'S A DESIRE FOR ME TO HAVE

EXCHANGED EXPERIENCES THROUGH THE PRODUCTION AND YOU HAVE YOUR

PERCEPTION AND I HAVE MINE AND WE LEARN HOW MORE COMING FROM

YOU AND IF THAT'S WHAT IT IS ABOUT.

IT IS A CONVERSATION BETWEEN US. >> I FELT MY ROLL AS AN ARTIST

BEFORE DETROIT, PRE-DETROIT, I FELT LIKE I HAD PURPOSE AND ROLL

TO EXPRESS A VOICE, BUT A SHARED VOICES, NOT JUST MINE, THAT WAS

NOT HEARD, I FELT IT WAS NOT HEARD ENOUGH.

WHEN I CAME TO DETROIT, WOW, I DIDN'T -- IT WAS KIND OF

POINTLESS, IT WAS LIKE TALKING TO A CHOIR, PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IT

MEANS TO STRUGGLE, THEY KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE, THAT'S

THEIR DAILY LIFE. THAT'S WHEN MY WORK HAD

TO SHIFT. THAT'S WHERE, I THINK IN DETROIT

-- TEACHING ART IS VERY DIFFICULT.

IF THERE'S ANY WAY I CAN HELP SOMEBODY TO HELP CLARIFY THEIR

PERCEPTION AND HOW IT IS CONNECTED TO WIDER AREA, YOU

HAVE TO BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES TO SURVIVE.

IT DOES, IN A WEIRD WAY, IT BECOMES A RELIGION, HOW

CAN YOU CONTINUE? AND THE TREES AND I LOVE CARVING

STONE AND I LOVE THAT OBJECT, BUT I REALIZED WHAT I LOVE WAS

SITTING NEXT TO SOMEBODY ELSE, I GREW UP WHERE WE CLIMBED THE

TREES AND WE WERE OUTSIDE AND LOVED CARVING ALL DAY.

AND IT WAS, I MISSED THAT HANGING OUT CONVERSATION.

THAT THING WE TALKED ABOUT, YOU KNOW?

THAT INSPIRED US TO MAKE THE WORK.

THE STUDIO-BASED ARTIST, THROW IT OUT AND -- THAT'S

THE ONE ART. I LOVE TO MAKE ART FOR THAT.

IT IS ABOUT YOU WHEN ME. IT IS US, LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS.

LET'S SHARE THIS. SO ANY WAY I CAN DO THAT, THAT'S

FEELS REALLY REAL AND PERSONAL TO ME, NOT THIS GREAT IDEA, BUT

IT COMES FROM PERSONAL SPACES, SOMETHING THAT'S DEAR TO ME,

EVEN THOUGH I'M BRINGING PEOPLE IN, IT IS EMOTIONAL FOR ME, AND

I HAVE TO OPEN UP TO SHARE WITH THEM.

AND HOPEFULLY THEY WILL OPEN UP AND SHARE WITH ME AND

WE'LL HAVE THIS REAL CONVERSATION THAT OCCURS.

>> TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHIDO AS WELL AS ALL OF THE ARTISTS

HIGHLIGHTED TODAY VISIT DETROITPERFORMS.ORG

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