Rashaun Rucker is a product of North Carolina Central University. He makes photographs, prints and drawings and has won more than 40 national and state awards for his work. In 2008 Rucker became the first African American to win Michigan Press Photographer of the Year. He also won a national Emmy Award in 2008 for documentary photography on pit bull culture. Rucker was a Maynard Fellow at Harvard in 2009 and a Hearst visiting professional in the journalism department at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013. In 2014 Rucker was awarded an artist residency at the Red Bull House of Art. In 2016 Rucker was honored as a Modern Man by Black Enterprise magazine. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections.


Rucker Artist Statement

My art examines social and cultural issues in America, with a particular focus on human rights, mental illness, the black experience, and the impact of inequality. My work has always dealt with social ills. Partly, this is because of my training and experience as a journalist; it is my job to show people, as James Baldwin once put it, “…what they don’t see.” These issues are of special concern in the wake of the rebirth of Detroit after bankruptcy. Even as parts of the city see huge positive changes, Detroit still struggles with poverty, homelessness, the achievement gap, and under employment.

My latest work is a series of drawings titled “Fly Away.” It compares the life of something many of us see everyday — the rock pigeon — to the identity and, in many ways, the stereotype of black men in America.

Europeans introduced pigeons to North America in the 1600s. The rock pigeon is a bird that doesn’t migrate but is considered a strong flyer and is commonly found in American cities, populating the streets. National Geographic described the rock pigeon as being gregarious and forming large flocks; it feeds on handouts and grains during the day. The pigeon, when taken away from its environment, usually returns home.

These images I’ve created speak to black men and why we often don’t fly (achieve) even though we have the ability to go far beyond our circumstances. It paints a picture of how the somewhat negative environment becomes a comfortable condition and not simply a momentary station in life.


Pi·geon·hole (verb)

To assign to a particular category or class, especially in a manner that is too rigid or exclusive.

Synonyms: categorize, compartmentalize, classify, characterize, label, brand, tag, typecast, ghettoize,