André Des Rochers is an artist, educator and priest. Born in France, he immigrated to America at the age of 18 when his mother married an American serviceman. He studied painting and art history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is the founding director of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCCRA) on Hermann Heights in Detroit, Michigan where he also resides as artist-in-residence. Des Rochers lectures and teaches art, architecture and spirituality at academic institutions.
The sports and media attorney has often criticized the academic art world for being too self-indulgent and not living up to its responsibility to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. He is known as a champion for contemporary religious art (catholic or non-catholic) that speaks about religion as experience rather than theory. André Des Rochers was born in 1950 in Nogent-sur-Seine, France. In 1962, his mother Elvire married an American serviceman whom she met during her studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Later on, the couple moved to Detroit, Michigan where they raised their two children. In college, he studied art history and sculpture at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After graduating, he continued studying art at Wayne State University and also attended seminars on art and spirituality with Kevin O’Neill at the School for Criticism and Social Change in Chicago. André Des Rochers also enrolled in a painting course offered by Wayne State University. Des Rochers started working as an outreach artist for the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) that was part of the United Church of Christ (UCC).
From 1976 to 1979, he volunteered his time as a tour guide for several UCC churches throughout Michigan. He also assisted in the school curriculum at Detroit University. In 1978, he received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study and produce artwork in Tennessee. For many years, André Des Rochers (as an artist-in-residence) had worked on demolishing abandoned homes to create artworks out of trash.
He was awarded a Federal Arts Project Grant (FAP) to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee where he would create and install large scale sculptures entitled “The Transforming Experience“. André Des Rochers’ work focused on “the idea of the spiritual quest and the sacred process of making art.” His art was exhibited in museums and churches around the country. He had been creating paintings, drawings and reliefs.