Video Interview by Los Angeles filmmaker Veronica Aberham
We are pleased to present Willie Middlebrook, an award winning photographer, whose work, from the 1970s to the present, is a historical record of the American culture.
The 1965 Los Angeles riot ripped apart the progress made thus far by the civil rights movement, causing more problems and poverty in the growing African American community. Just when a seed of hope had emerged, many felt they slipped back into new hardships, reminiscent of the past, plagued with gangs, street drugs and increased racial barriers and tensions.
Willie Middlebrook was challenged by this environment, but somehow managed to rise above it. Instead of allowing the world to close in around him, he found protection in the family unit, taking in their successes, shutting out the background noise that worked so hard to destroy much of his community. Willie chose to follow the good advice from his father, meeting positive role models.
Willie has dedicated his life to the arts and to giving back to the community. Willie reflects, “Artists get involved. You’re either totally self involved or you get involved in everything else and that everything else is the community around you so it’s just an expansion of that.” With each photo and digital creation Willie shaped and molded the true light and essence of people, becoming a well-respected artist in the community. Not only does he gives back with his art, but he also gives back something more precious, hope. “ I wanted to show black people in a true light, as true as I see it.”
From his father’s positive influence on his life, to the training he received at Compton College, to the community services he provided through the Communicative Arts Academy and the Watts Towers Arts Center, Willie’s determination to reach for better has created the artist we now know as MONK, or Willie Middlebrook.
For the exhibit we selected works from various projects, including: Early Work Series, 1977-79; Early Influences; Skid Row, 1977-1980; WATTS, 1979-1982; My Father’s Funeral, Our Father’s Funeral, 1979; LA Weekly Early – Middle 80’s; Medical Photography; Portraits Of My People, 1990; The MONK Project; from FREEDOM to slavery to Freedom? and Black Series IN PROGRESS.
For additional information please visit the artist’s website.