Local Rapper Archie Green Seeks to Put His Own Spin on Outreach and Engagement at MoCA Cleveland

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MCKINLEY WILEY
  • McKinley Wiley
Mostly known for his work as a rapper and mental health advocate, Archie Green has quietly been making waves as the newly minted Community Outreach & Programs Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA Cleveland) and is dedicated to giving a voice to those who often go unheard.

And he's doing it his way.

"I am in charge of curating adult programs as well as public programs that tie into ongoing exhibitions in the museum and MoCA's commitment to community engagement and community outreach efforts," Green says via interview.

He comes into the position looking to put a new spin on things, a vision he had before the possibility of working at MoCA even came to fruition.



"The main thing that I would like to do with regards to my position at MoCA would be to inject some new and innovative, creative programming that I haven't seen," Green says. "Before I even got the job, it was a place where I would love to see some dope programs at. So to be able to do something like that in this capacity is super dope. My goal is to put together some great programs and to invite people who've never been to MoCA out to the museum for some dope and engaging programs."

With hip-hop being so much a part of his life, Green is intent on bringing that to his new position at MoCA as well.

"I also want to push the culture forward," Green says. "With the events I have lined up, these are some events that have never been done before. I'm excited to bring that new energy and to infuse as much of my career background in hip-hop and even the banking world into the art space at MoCA."

The first of those ideas is a series called eCLEctic: Wax Poetics. The series will seek to connect people with global cultural trends through the NEO artists and producers pushing them forward here and beyond. It kicks off tonight at 8 at MoCA.

"When I came up with the idea for eCLEctic, I basically wanted to inject a type of program that would show the different types of art and art forms that Cleveland based artists have to offer — whether it be in hip-hop, whether it be in dance," Green says. "I also wanted to highlight local Cleveland businesses as well. That's why when I do the eCLEctic events, it's a capital CLE."

The goal is an ambitious one, but to make it easier for himself, Green chose to go with a program that was near and dear to his heart.

"This is the first year I'm doing this so I wanted to start with programs that were conducive to who I am and that's primarily hip-hop," Green says. "So the first series are going to be in some way, shape or form tied to hip-hop culture. The first one is tied to the art of sampling in hip-hop. It's also based on our ongoing exhibition 'A Poeth*c Wager.'"

The exhibition showcases installations that are derived from works of the past and utilized in a new form.

"When I learned about that exhibition I thought it sounded just like sampling, which gave me the idea to do this event," Green says. "I've got some more events coming in the new year that I won't talk about yet. I just want this Wax Poetics event to be successful. We've got some great producers as well as some small business owners showcasing what they have to offer in Cleveland."

In addition to hip-hop, Green is also adamant about giving opportunity to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

"I want to use my position to offer people who might've never gotten the chance to showcase their artform or community outreach," Green says. "If they've never gotten the shine they deserve, I highlight and bring those types of acts or organizations to MoCA Cleveland. Recently, I enlisted Ricky Smith and R.A.K.E. (Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere) to come out for #HashtagLunchbag, where we had volunteers come out and make 500 lunches for the homeless."

As one would expect, Green is still working on his music, and he has a few projects slated to drop in 2018.

"I'm still working on music," Green insists. "I've got a project called 'I Like to Be Weird' as well as some music videos. One video in particular is for my latest single 'You Wouldn't Understand,' and that video should come out at the beginning of the year. I've got some exciting performances lined up for the year as well. I wanted to take a step back and focus on this job, which doesn't feel like a job at all."

Over the past year or so, Green has garnered a great deal of attention for his mental health advocacy, and he's glad to see that the subject is becoming less taboo these days. He's worked a lot with JD Caminero of Quote Unquote and is looking forward to collaborating with other Cleveland organizations in the future as well.

"Peel Dem Layers Back is growing," Green says. It started as a grassroots movement, and now it's growing legs. I've gotten great feedback from people who've come to our events. We just celebrated our first year of doing them. The cause is being highlighted more in both the hip-hop and Black communities and becoming normalized. I'm not as 'embarrassed' to talk about going to a therapist."

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