A Movement in Every Direction presented by The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) is here!
Read along as I share the purpose behind the esteemed exhibition, artist highlights and personal insight upon attending the opening weekend events hosted at the MMA in Downtown Jackson.
a Movement in Every direction:legacies of the great migration
This national expedition explores themes of perseverance, self-determination, family, and the profound impact the Great Migration had economically, socially and culturally across the country then and still today. Featuring newly commissioned compelling works of 12 acclaimed Black artists from all over the country.
Early in the 20th century, more than 6 million Black Americans moved from the south to cities in the north, midwest, and west.
This migration is no one person's story, and these artist have created incredible installations of varied art mediums inspired by their personal family connection to the movement and history itself. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience the exhibition led by the co-curators themselves, Ryan Dennis & Jessica Bell Brown. Together these ladies gave an in-depth overview of each artists creation, being very insightful with details about how the exhibition came to fruition.
The opening weekend event was a culmination of many conversations, storytellings, and celebrations in honor of this landmark exhibition. Now let's delve into some of the legacies of the Great Migration!
Theaster Gates Jr., The Double Wide- born in Chicago, with both parents born here in Mississippi. His sculptural installation composed of large pine structures resembles a double-wide trailer owned by his uncle as a depot of relics, a Black Madonna and child, and lots pickled goods . If you live in the south, you have had some type of pickled food from a jar... just sayin'! He also performed opening night w/ The Black Monks, using his work as a stage front. Theaster's particular sound is rooted in the blues and the gospel inspired by summers spent in Mississippi. In this exhibit, he has recreated the vibe of the south through taste, feeling, and sound.
Akea Brionne, An Ode to Y(ou)'all., New Orleans born with family ties to Columbus MS. Akea's collection of hand-sewn tapestries incorporates photos from her great grandmother family archives. Her installation had me at HELLO! Akea's great grandmother's strength and resilience were made physical through creations of Jacquard, poly-fil, and rhinestones. Rhinestones, as adornments on clothing are considered the highest regard in the Black community.
I was born in California, raised in the south (Jackson MS) by my maternal grandmother. She heavily inspired my love and dedication to fashion. To this day, she will share photo albums of family while we casually 'hang around the house.' Akea personally shared how these photographs found in her great grandmother's home helped preserve her family's legacy. This deeply resonated with me.
Each woven piece tells a story of familial significance with dimensional embellished details.
My favorite in this series is the 'How I Hate To Leave' tapestry. In response to how the Great Migration directly impacted Akea, this piece emotes feeling of hope and despair as her great grandmother's brothers prepare to leave behind their sisters, migrating to New Mexico for the betterment of the family descendants. Directly relating to this moment, both of my grandmother's brothers migrated. One went west (California), and the other went midwest (Ohio), seeking a life different than what was possible in Mississippi.
"An Ode to Y(ou)'all" series by Akea Brionne spoke to me intimately and personally. Thanks to Akea for this spectacular work.
discuss, connect, & celebrate