Derric Clemmons maintains a respected presence in Chicago as a sculptor, painter, teacher and mentor in school programs in Hyde Park, South Shore, Calumet and Auburn Gresham communities.
He is working currently on what he calls the METROPOLIS series of wood and metal sculpture, using pop art , expressionistic and abstract elements with graphic brightness to emphasize his current viewpoint of American life from a Chicagoan perspective. His drive includes the desire to produce more vibrant messages through art in challenged spaces throughout Chicago in all receptive communities. He started a new path as of summer of 2017 with the renaming of the group Cocomocha studio , to a new studio arrangement to be known now as the SOUTH WORX Artists Group. (Changes to the logo will take place soon)
SOUTH WORX ARTISTS GROUP ( as of July 2017 ) formerly known as Cocomocha Studio, will continue to provide artistic inspiration to open, 'challenged' public spaces of different cultures, to encourage intelligence and dialog through cultural symbol and direct positive message. We want business corridors, neighborhoods to thrive and improve their appearance. We want to work with/ encourage select, dedicated young people in the process of community engagement and proper social commentary.
ART FACADE INITIATIVE
Reinvention was necessary. It was time to investigate the relevance of commercial work with a practical motive. Businesses in some communities blended into a sea of banality visually, and color lacked. Drawing from cultural pasts, our studio produced a series of artistic ideas that were presented to businesses that accomplishes
- Cultural Identity
- Community Identity/Outreach
- Customer Attraction
Pilsen community was the first to have the facade design on one of its well-known family establishments, the DON CHURRO pastry store in Chicago. What was a well-known place for delicious Mexican pastry products became a photographic attraction and helps increase business due to its colorful visibility. We knew our efforts would be duplicated soon.
Before long, additional requests were made for weather resistant facade and panel mural installations in other communities as well. The Art Facades prove to be a cool way to bring heightened individuality to any struggling community with small businesses. Some communities provide SSA rebates to customers having work performed. We are looking to invigorate and revitalize the engines of community–your small business.
DRIVE BY PROJECT
A studio is more than a place for artistic contemplation. After all the notes, the discussions, the sketches and ideas, our goal was to reproduce a consistent "IDENTITY" visually to apply to areas of business and community in establishing cultural foundation. The need came when we saw the housing boom collapse, and later, homes were being abandoned since 2009. The transition was discouraging to residents who remained in the neighborhood. Buildings and structures boarded up became places for drug trafficking and gang graffiti. Their dilapidated appearance was discouraging to passers-by and community residents. The monotone brown and grey was depressing.
Ancient peoples and civilizations always left carved and painted messages in a visual form for later generations to understand the time, or the context of their history. This was something we discussed as a starting point to produce creative ideas. Our work, in all its forms, is for people to drive by and take a reflective look at consistent displays of the art forms that build recognition. This is to send out positive messages that create consciousness and awareness that people are vital here, that they matter, that they are relevant. We are encouraging and suggesting lively accent points that encourage invitation.
The Drive By concept is two initiatives:
After collecting recycled and re-purposed wood and metal products, they are cut and prepared for painting. We produced positive symbols, visuals and creative energies with the cooperation of residents and youth from areas of the Southeast side and other communities/cities to help produce colorfully derived art panels of various sizes that follow the theme of positive reinforcement. After selecting these panels we go out to areas where the community needs art and color. Abandoned buildings and fields that are forgotten are the chosen places to display these art forms. The finished displays are an exhibit to those who walk through, or, “Drive By” and are hopefully inspired by this initiative from its resident artists and community participants.
We saw an opportunity to engage the "engines" of community–its businesses–by offering a beautiful way to invigorate them and the neighborhood. We design and install brightly colored image panels applied to the front of buildings, compiled from symbols, historical markers, and mixed graphics to encourage customers to pay attention to their establishment. The affect is a lift to the immediate area and an increase in business traffic. It also encourages traffic and interest in that community. It adds a circus effect that is so desperately needed in troubled neighborhoods and our work is being strongly received.