The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) and the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) have embarked on a special collaboration that has developed into a landmark exhibition. The institutions have co-commissioned new work by twelve influential Black artists inviting them to research and ruminate on their personal connections to the Great Migration.
A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration was organized by co-curators Ryan N. Dennis (she/her), MMA Chief Curator and Artistic Director of CAPE, and Jessica Bell Brown (she/her), BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. Participating artists include Mark Bradford, Akea Brionne, Zoë Charlton, Larry W. Cook, Torkwase Dyson, Theaster Gates, Allison Janae Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Robert Pruitt, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, and Carrie Mae Weems.
The Great Migration took place between 1915 and 1970 when more than six million African Americans moved out of the South to cities and towns across the Northeast, Midwest, and West resulting in massive demographic shifts across the country. In Baltimore alone, the proportion of Black Americans tripled, growing from 15 percent of the city’s overall population in 1910 to a near majority in 1970. From 1914 to 1920, about 100,000 Black Americans left Mississippi, decreasing the population by 37 percent by 1970.
Dennis and Brown said, “During this extraordinarily illuminating process—conducted during a pandemic— the artists have been investigating their connections to the South. They participated in virtual round-tables to share experiences and discover historical, personal, and geographic intersections. As each installation developed over the last year, it became clear that this project will primarily reflect on family. It will posit migration as both a historical and political consequence, but also as a choice for reclaiming one’s agency. The works examine individual and familial stories of perseverance, self-determination, and self-reliance through a variety of media and expressions.”
A Movement in Every Direction installations showcase painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, sound, and immersive installation. Many of the works reflect the artists’ research, examining history through the lens of contemporary life and establishing analogies across time and generations.
“Through this incredible array of works, we hope viewers will experience this exhibition as a compelling meditation on ancestry, place, and possibility,” added Dennis and Brown.
We invite you to visit the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson between April 9 and September 11, 2022, to see be the first to see these new works of art.
By Allison Janae Hamilton
By Larry W. Cook
By Robert Pruitt