Based in Detroit and Chicago, contemporary artist/musician Zack Ostrowski (aka “BEVERLY FRE$H”) is making a name for himself worldwide. When he’s not busy breaking Guinness World Records (cracking the most eggs on his head and compiling the tallest stack of rap tapes), he’s engaging audiences with his art and words.
Ostrowski was the recipient of the 2009 Daimler AG Emerging Artist Award and has exhibited within the U.S. and abroad including shows and performances in China, Japan, Peru, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Germany. Notable exhibitions and performances include Boondoggle Fat Waddle II at the Cranbrook Museum of Art (2011) and the two-person exhibition entitled
Moletal (2011), supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the co-founder of sUPERIORbelly, a multi-media art and design collective and record label based in Detroit.
“I use alternative strategies to examine cultural structures through a variety of media, including drawing, graphic design, installation, rap, folk music and performance,” Ostrowski explained. “I am interested in the peripheral elements of our contemporary culture and seek to understand and highlight their imperfect and misunderstood manifestations…
“A major recurring theme of my studio practice is subversion of cultural identity and ritual in ways that both entertain and compel the viewers to deconstruct their habitual ideas about ‘others.’ I am interested in established forms of performance such as song, dance and storytelling that have been used for ages to entertain audiences and define/sustain the identity of societies and subcultures. I test what happens when these formal devices are successfully executed,
deliberately fail and/or are taken apart and reconfigured.
“The live performances I produce dissent from dominant forms of entertainment and exhibition and explore new methods of examination, focusing on the outlying elements of American culture and the under-examined context of the Midwest. My performances present the audience with a shifting point of view—a complex, fragmented and contradictory state of observation—drawing from my rural Midwestern upbringing. I use words to point things out – in writing and in song…
I re-contextualize the source material so as to examine the influence of culture at a critical
distance, with effects ranging from reflective to revolting.”
An assistant professor of art, media and design at DePaul University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Ostrowski takes an approach to teaching that emphasizes participatory art, social engagement and research methodologies. His diverse background spans graphic design,
music, installation and performance art. Recently, his research led to the publication of Performer and Place: a Social Exchange, an essay accompanied by documentation of his Landmarks performance series, in Dichotomy Volume 17, a journal published by the University of Detroit Mercy.
"What I enjoy most about my role as a professor is creating a place for experimentation," he said. "In this place there is a sincere interest in personal growth, processes and learning and not just the final outcome. This place exists, as much as it can, outside of the market and there are very few places like this around."
To learn more about Ostrowski’s work, visit http://www.beverlyfresh.com/.
- sUPERIORbelly (Detroit); DePaul University (Chicago)
- Artist/Musician; Assistant Professor