Throughout the run of the landmark exhibition Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum hosts artist-led tours for small groups. These tours will be led by artists included in the exhibition and have been paired together based on connections to each other and their work. The tours will be informal discussions about the artwork and this community of Detroit artists. 

Rashaun Rucker and Gregory Johnson practices are each deeply engaged in their communities and their work cherishes commonplace gatherings of everyday Black life.   


Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Rashaun Rucker lives and works in Detroit. Rucker attended North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, Marygrove College (BA, Art,), Detroit; and Cranbrook Academy of Art (MFA Candidate, Print Media, 2024). 

The Rucker’s artworks are characterized by his realistic approach to today’s African-American society, with noticeable influences from his journalistic point of view. Most of his works attend to issues neglected by the press and encourage young generations to follow the legacy of their ancestors. 

Rucker has received more than forty national and state awards for his work. In 2008, Rucker became the first African American to be named Michigan Press Photographer of the Year. The same year, he won an Emmy Award for documentary photography on the pitbull culture in Detroit. Rucker has held numerous fellowships and residencies, including: the Maynard Fellowship at Harvard University in 2009; a Hearst visiting professional in the journalism department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2013; an artist residency at the Red Bull House of Art in Detroit in 2014; a Kresge Visual Artist Fellowship in 2019; a residency at the International Studios and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, New York, in 2021; and a Mellon Fellowship at the University of Michigan Institute of Humanities in 2021. Rucker has been honored as a Modern Man by Black Enterprise magazine in 2016 and created the original artwork for the critically acclaimed Detroit Free Press documentary 12th and Clairmount. His work was recently featured in HBO’s celebrated series Random Acts of Flyness and Native Son. In 2019, Rucker was awarded the Red Bull Arts Detroit micro grant which was followed by A Sustainable Arts Foundation award in 2020 and a Visual Arts Grant by the Harpo Foundation in 2021. His diverse work is represented in numerous public and private collections. 


Born in Ludowici, Georgia, Gregory Johnson lives and works in Detroit, where he was primarily raised. He graduated from Mackenzie High School and later attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio (BA, 1988; MFA, Drawing and Painting, 1991).  

Johnson’s work reflects the environment and the culture in which he was reared. His work reveals a high degree of realism and an appreciation for the environment in which he lives. His preferred mediums are watercolor, colored pencil, and oil paint. Although primarily a painter, Johnson also produces linoleum block prints and sculptures.  

He has taught in Detroit Public Schools and has been an art instructor for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He has worked part-time as a Humanities Professor at Wayne County Community College District. He is currently a reading interventionist for New Paradigm for Education, a non-profit charter management organization. His work has been shown nationally and locally, including the Black Fine Art Show in New York in 2009 and Say It Loud Art: History, Rebellion, Exhibit at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in 2017. 


Tagged: Artist Talk, Cranbrook, lecture, Lecture Series
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