- Excerpts from An Interview with Michael K. Taylor*
The first image of your exhibition that strikes us here at Prairie View A&M University is your Eluard Remix. As we enter the doors of the museum, it seizes our attention. Of course, much has to do with how it is positioned in this exhibition. But most of all, its creation, its invention, pulls us in; we cannot resist it. Will you talk about that piece and its location in the exhibition?
Yes, Eluard Remix. Eluard Burt was my uncle, my mother's brother. The title was his name and using the idea, the euphemism of remixing something, to take samples of different things and put it back together as something new. So a lot of what I do with my artwork is, from my perspective, something that I visually do, which also happens a lot in hip hop where we sample the paths in history and then we bring it back together to represent it. So, this exhibition titled Re:Vision Pro:Cess or "revision process" is looking back to create forward. That first piece represents part of a series, my feelings as far as my family loss in relation to New Orleans and Katrina in particular. I was born in Metairie, right outside New Orleans. My family first lived in New Orleans and then later moved to Houston, but most of what I've known about my family has always lived in New Orleans. That's where my parents met, that's where my uncle who's actually in the image actually introduced my mom and my dad. After Katrina, all my family left New Orleans with the exception of maybe one or two. That was difficult to deal with and knowing that I couldn't go back to where I had grown up a lot and knew my family would be—there would be no more dinners, no more get-togethers, there would be no more of those things in all the houses that I had the memories of. So, with that piece I had begun a series which is further into the exhibition of the Grand Memories Series, which had dealt with my family on both sides—my mom's and my dad's side—and this work is an evolution of that.
So, in that piece is an image of my uncle Eluard as a young boy and an image of him with his flute. Both of those images would be him as a young man and him briefly, an older age. And then, in the layering of the image are some photographs of a sculpture I made called a corona, which is a spiritual form carved into wood, and also images from our family photo albums, military images as well as photographs in part of some of the architectural structures in New Orleans I photographed when I went there for his funeral. A lot of the texture that is in the image is the wall from the church where the ceremony was held. And so I built up all those images. A lot of times I think in layers as well as sequences. [End Page 81] I work and try to put together a timeless way of creating an image where it covers a wide range. I would say that image itself, if you include the lineage which I found for the first time, which I knew I needed to include, his son and my uncle, I was able to find a hand written list of my family lineage on his side, my mom's side, dating back to the 1800s. So in the bottom corner and I think one in the top corner is the birth lineage, which is my mom's side, dating back to the 1800s coming all the way to who he was named after, which was another one of our ancestors, Eluard Burt. Or it could be him. The ultimate irony is the picture of him, which most people mistake as me, as a little boy, almost looks identical to how I looked back in the 1980s with a flattop, which I thought was completely...