Artists and Craftsmen of the Great River Road – Malcolm McCrae
Read the Podcast Transcript
Malcolm: To me, living off the river, the Mississippi River, is a sacred River. It’s about inspiration. This river runs right through the heart of America going all the way down. And then thinking about and reflecting on the different lives and the stories and different things and how the River affects peoples’ lives. As an artist, inspiration is the key. One thing that we are all on a quest for, inspiration. That we would be inspired to create new work, create new paintings, creating whatever your medium is. For me, I have to be inspired everyday, so the river, sometimes is going out there and looking at the barges, helps me reflect on life. Barges are going up the river and having to be able to make sure that they have enough momentum to go up the river. Down the river is easy, but going up the river is the hard part. Same thing with life. The Mississippi River, I call it the Mother River, is a representation of the way life is and as a creative individual, I use it in my work all the time.
Interviewer: Malcolm that’s pretty deep. Think about the stories that are just along the river, you grabbed me there for that moment. So what is what inspires you on the river. I mean what will make you think this is was gonna be the next big Malcolm McRae masterpiece
Malcolm: History. Meaning that the river, River towns, River cities, River areas, River landings always had transitional individuals coming and going. For me history is a tool and I never run out of subject matter because there’s always stories around. There’s always elders, there’s always people that can tell you about, “my granddaddy used to work on a boat, a steamboat, and he did this or he did that”, so a lot of my new work has been built around a lot of documentation. I just finished up a mini series around African-American history in this area. I spent a lot of my time dealing with a lot of old elders who are telling history, telling stories about you know African-American greatness in this area. The river has so many different tales and it helps me to really relate to the community more.
Interviewer: Malcolm while looking at your website, MalcolmMcRae.com, I noticed the Pollination Station, and that you’re talking about latest works. This Pollination Station, It’s exciting. I wish that I lived closer so I can see what you guys are doing with this.
Malcolm: The Pollination Station, started off with a vision of necessity and also just creativity. The basic fundamentals of Pollination Station is built around three different elements; create, share, grow. So as an artist, space is very, very important. One of the things that is always hard for an artist, is to be able to find studio space. So I looked around looking for studio space, because I do a lot of workshops with youth. And I do a lot of training and classes, and different things like that and I couldn’t find any usable space that would be really affordable. So out of frustration, I was like, you know what, I need to make the space portable. I need to make it where I can be able to meet people halfway and go into communities, and I need to be able to make it to where its self-sufficient. So I decided to purchase a Greyhound bus and started converting it over into pretty much like a mobile tiny house, but also mobile community center. So we go into disadvantage areas all across the country.
Interviewer: Malcolm it’s such a cool thing. I think that’s awesome. So with you bringing art into disadvantaged neighborhoods and things. How does art change a person?
Malcolm: This is me. I grew up having to understand that you know my dad and my mom did the best they can. But we grew up and we didn’t have some of the other things other kids had. And poverty is one of those things that really does harm to young people, specifically dealing with trauma. A lot of people look at art and creativity as just an outlet. But for me, art and creativity saved my life. Because you know growing up in a rough area. Growing up in urban area, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Growing up in a really high crime area. I had an opportunity, I had a decision to make at a really young age, whether I was gonna sell drugs or stay focused in on what my passion was. So when I kind of fell in love with art, and creativity, It gave me an outlet, gave me an opportunity to express myself. And I’m blessed enough where at almost 40 years old, I’ve been blessed enough to not have to work for an individual a day of my life, I’ve been a self-sufficient entrepreneur pretty much all of my life. It gave me freedom, it gave me an opportunity to raise a family, gave me an opportunity to be a great father, and to be a community activist. Because I know art changes lives. I’m a walking testimony. So when I travel the country, when I work with young people and when I’m in a community doing community art. I realize and I know that art really works because it works for me.
Interviewer: I’m inspired by the stuff you doing. How does somebody find out more about who Malcolm McCrae is and how do we find out more about the Pollination Station and all the stuff that you doing around Cape Girardeau and around the country?
Malcolm: Go to my website MalcolmMcCrae.com you can Google me Malcolm McCRae, I’m on social media, I’m on Instagram, Facebook. I’m very easy to reach. If you have a question, if you have an idea about a project you want to do, definitely reach out to me and I love hearing from people all over the world