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Opens at the Mississippi Museum of Art on April 9th

Being of African descent and descendants of stolen Africans, the quest to find ‘home’ is often a lifelong journey. A more attainable journey, however, is one that grants us the opportunity to trace our family’s migration within the continental United States.

What is known as The Great Migration occurred in two phases between the 1910s and the 1970s and saw approximately six million Black people move from the American South to Northern, Midwestern, and Western states. The driving force behind the mass movement was to escape racial violence, pursue economic and educational opportunities, and obtain freedom from the oppression of Jim Crow. As described on the Mississippi Museum of Art website, “The Great Migration transformed nearly every aspect of Black life, in both rural towns and urban metropolises. The impact of the Great Migration was profound -- spurring a flourishing Black culture and transformed social and cultural life throughout the United States.

A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration is an upcoming exhibition co-organized with the Baltimore Museum of Art and features newly commissioned works across media by twelve acclaimed Black artists. The artists explore their families’ connections to the South through research, exploration, and conversations, and illuminate themes of perseverance, self-determination, and self-reliance, along with the impacts this historical phenomenon continues to have today.

The artists:

Akea Brionne Allison Janae Hamilton

Mark Bradford Leslie Hewitt

Zoë Charlton Steffani Jemison

Larry W. Cook Robert Pruitt

Torkwase Dyson Jamea Richmond-Edwards

Theaster Gates Carrie Mae Weems

Two highlights from the featured artists, who may be lesser known than say, Theaster Gates or Carrie Mae Weems, are Akea Brionne, a New Orleans native who describes herself as a “Creole lens-based artist, researcher, writer, curator, and designer," and Allison Janae Hamilton, a Kentucky born visual artist working in sculpture, installation, photography, and video. Hamilton uses plant matter, layered imagery, complex sounds, and animal remains to create immersive spaces. Their work, along with all of the artists in the exhibition, bring the themes of family, ancestry, land, and self-determination to life in deeply personal, stirring ways. If you can't make it to the South to see the exhibit, do yourself a favor and follow the artists on social media.


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