BY AJ TRAGER
DETROIT – Kyle “Rise” Irving is one of the many artists who will showcase their work at the upcoming Michigan AIDS Coalition celebration, ArtWorks. ArtWorks, which will be held on Sept. 18 at The Alchemy in Detroit, will raise funds to directly benefit the work of MAC, such as investing in evidence-based, innovative programs through advocacy and education. Irving serves as a MAC committee member and helped plan the 20th anniversary event. According to his Facebook, Irving is “an urban artist from the Metro Detroit area. Artwork ranges from pop cartoon images, classic comic book heroes/villains, video games, all the way to the traditional tattoo and Asian themes. All his art has what he has dubbed ‘Hooligan Art.'” Irving sat down with BTL to discuss the link between AIDS/HIV awareness and art, the history of his nickname and what he feels people are “brushing under the rug” when it comes to AIDS/HIV.
How did you get your start as an artist? Did you study?
I have been drawing and painting since I was able to (do so). I always did it just for fun. I attended Oakland University where I received my bachelor’s degree in art.
What types of changes in your art have you experienced as an artist? What mediums do you work with?
While attending Oakland University, I was exposed to many new and different mediums and techniques. Through my years of working and evolving as an artist, I am constantly reminded that practice, learning and refining is a must as an artist. I was told once by another artist, “Learn the rules, so they can be broken with purpose.” It has truly helped to shape my work and ideas. My work is done in a wide range of mediums, from ink, watercolor and spray paint on paper to wood and canvas. As well as fine art, I have worked to build my own T-shirt and skateboard line.
How did you get connected with MAC?
I was introduced to the fine members of MAC by another well known Detroit artist, Antonio Agee.
Why is it important to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS?
After working with MAC and ArtWorks for so many years, I have found a new respect for awareness of issues as opposed to aiming for a “cure.” There are so many issues that people don’t want to think about, brush under the rug so to speak. Speaking about and educating people on the disease and prevention is the true cure in my opinion. If we can speak openly and honestly about HIV/AIDS and prevent it before it starts, that is more power than looking for a cure after the fact.
Where do you get your influence for the pieces? Why do those influences resonate so strongly for you?
I wish I had a solid, straight forward answer about this. It’s difficult to explain. I see something as I am going on with my day, I hear a song, and the gears start working — more often than not, at the most random times — which has taught me to carry a small sketchbook or notebook to get these ideas out.
How have you grown as an artist? And how did you become known as “Rise”?
My artistic growth has been a long process. I am truly grateful on a daily basis for the love and support my work has been shown over the years, which I try as much as I can to give back through charity and donations. Rise was the name I picked for myself years ago when I first started spray painting. It has since become a personal reminder and symbol to myself to never stop. The art world and life in general can be hard and cruel at times, but with Rise, I know not to stop working and trying.
What is next for you?
I look forward to continuing to work with MAC and hopefully branch out and work with other Detroit-based groups. As a professional I am always looking for the next project, something that will push me and allow me the opportunity to stretch my artistic wings.