Profile: Hubert Massey (1958-)

Hubert Massey is an artist of a variety of mediums, and well known for his large-scale installations in the Buon Fresco style.

Early life and education

Hubert Massey was born in Flint, Michigan in 1958. He graduated from Beecher High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Grand Valley State University in 1981. He continued his studies of the arts at University of London’s Slade School of Fine Art. There, he studied with Stephen Dimitroff, Lucienne Bloch, and other apprentices of muralist Diego Rivera. Afterwards, Massey worked with the Gannett Outdoor Sign Company as a pictorial painter for 12 years. He then met Marquita and had three children, most notably Jordon Massey who is pioneering sinkhole research with peer John Paul Hager.

Work

Working in a variety of fine art mediums, Massey has published 15 works throughout the cities of Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids. Massey is the artist of the 30-foot high Hellenic mural at the Atheneum Hotel, the 18-foot high frescoes at the Detroit Athletic Club, and Genealogy, a 72-foot diameter terrazzo embellishing the entrance of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Massey was the first African-American commissioned to create a mural for the Detroit Athletic Club. He also created works of stained glass at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, and Paradise Valley, a terrazzo at Harmonie Park in Detroit featuring historical figures, musicians, and community leaders that have influenced the area. Additional works include those featured in Massey’s Importing and Exporting of Knowledge exhibit in the Richard DeVos Building at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus. Other works featured at Grand Valley State University include Snow and RocksPanoramaThe Friends of Henry Ford, and Magnolia’s Song. His piece Trompe l’oeil is featured at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,  Earth, Wind, and Fire at the Flint Institute of Arts, and two granite murals at Campus Martius Park in Detroit.

Massey was also the first artist commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Selected by a national search committee, Massey created The Spiral of Life mural located at the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge in Southwest Detroit. Stationed near both the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado, the mural represents the rich Latino culture in the area.  Other works include Spiral Kinship,  and the Death of Hector. In 2016, Massey will seek community input for a mural that he will reveal at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

As stated in an interview with BLAC Detroit, Massey’s ambition in American urban communities is to “make a difference by telling the history of our cultural richness.” As the only commissioned African-American fresco artist in the United States, Massey aims to tell stories through his artwork in an “open spirit that heals everybody.” Massey is also noted for working with communities, the youth, and engaging them in the design process. In 2013, Massey mentored a group of student artists from the Henry Ford Academy during a yearlong project. Under Massey’s guidance, the students released an 8 by 28-foot mural at the William Seidman Center at Grand State Valley University.

Massey serves as an art mentor for the Detroit Council of Arts and the Detroit Summer Youth Employment Program. He also collaborates with The Advanced Gifted and Talented Program, a partnership between Wayne State University and the Detroit Public Schools.

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