Art as a Form of Liberation – Marquis Victor of Elevated Thought
by Joey Phoenix,Creative North Shore
Marquis Victor, the Founding Executive Director of Elevated Thought in Lawrence, is a poet, photographer, designer, educator, businessperson, and visionary.
He co-founded Elevated Thought in 2010 as a way to address social issues through art and by providing a platform for youth in underprivileged areas to have a voice – to have a way to be seen, heard, and recognized by the broader public.
In 2018, The Essex County Community Foundation, in partnership with the Barr Foundation granted Elevated Thought $25,000 for its project “Co-Creating Culture”, a public art installation at the Lawrence Public Library created to celebrate the diverse cultures of Lawrence and highlighting the Library as a cultural convener.
The Road to Empowerment
Throughout history, the desires of the young people in communities often get drowned out, and for Marquis, a person of color growing up in North Andover and the son of an Irish mother and a Haitian father, things especially weren’t easy. Finding his voice was something that took time.
“I was the poor colored kid who wore his dad’s hand-me-downs that were way too big; my Mom sewed patches into them,” Marquis said. “There weren’t a lot of kids who looked like me.”
Growing up under these circumstances pushed Marquis into two different interests, basketball and poetry, as a way to build community and express himself.
Basketball, in particular, made an impact on Marquis’ development for a number of reasons. One reason was that it drew attention to existing socio-economic imbalances that made him feel both privileged and underprivileged simultaneously, which is a confusing situation for a child to parse. Where in North Andover he felt on the outside for having so little, when playing basketball in Lawrence he felt out on the outside for having something at all.
“In the inner city I was the kid from North Andover who had always had his parents around, which was hard to grapple with when I was younger,” he said.