This monthly artist spotlight series was created to highlight artists in the community who have been impacted by racial, gender, and socio-economic inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael A. Murray is a local poet/author who has been writing stories and stanzas ever since his hand could hold a pen. He is also a photographer, filmmaker, podcast host, public speaker, mentor, manager of Playlixt LLC, and founder of the NU GRWTH Artist Collective: a premier incubator that gives black and brown artists of the south the resources, visibility, and appreciation needed to be as influential as their dreams aspire to be.
“I am quite unapologetic in my celebration of all things Black, Beautiful, and Revolutionary....” -Michael Murray
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you?
As an artist who is also a promoter, this pandemic impacted the business side of my artistic expression dramatically, as I have not been hosting shows consistently since this whole thing started. I have little to no interest in doing virtual shows, as I absolutely LIVE for the energy and excitement I get from a crowd in person, so it’s been super disappointing to not be able to get that on a consistent monthly basis like before. On the brighter side, I know for a fact that the artists and attendees who frequent our shows cannot wait for them to start up again, and when they do, I know they will be even better than before.
What social barriers have you had to face as an artist in this community?
While any and all viewers and attendees are welcome to enjoy my art and performance art events, I am quite unapologetic in my celebration of all things Black, Beautiful, and Revolutionary. Many venues and consumers don’t quite know how to take that in a place like South Carolina, but I’m super thankful for the following I’ve garnered who not only embrace these things, but celebrate them on their own accord as well. This extended family I’ve been blessed with has both encouraged and assisted me in efforts to create more welcoming spaces for me and similar artists here in our home state.
What is the biggest need that would be most helpful to you right now?
The biggest thing I could use right now is money to book and pay performers. Performance artists have been hit incredibly hard during this past year, and once we get our shows up and running again (which we’re currently in the process of!) I want to be sure I can properly compensate them for their time, energy, and amazing work.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I used to think all my work simply centered around community, but one thing this pandemic has taught me is that it truly revolves around personal and societal liberation. It’s gotten to the point now that I am constantly learning, relearning, and unlearning something new about my body, the way my mind works, the way the world works, and so on nearly every day. I never want that feeling to leave my mind or my work, ever. More so, I want to spread art, ideas, and conversations that give everyone I encounter that feeling as well.