MMA Debuts Art Exhibition Examining Great Migration
The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) presents A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration
, which explores the profound impact of the Great Migration on the social and cultural life of the United States from historical and personal perspectives. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 9.
Co-organized with the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), the exhibition features newlycommissioned works across media by 12 acclaimed Black artists, including 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. Through the artists’ distinct and dynamic installations, A Movement in Every Direction reveals anew the spectrum of contexts that shaped the Great Migration and explores the ways in which it continues to reverberate today in both intimate and communal experiences.
The exhibition will be open at the MMA through September 11, 2022, and will then travel to the BMA, where it will be on view from October 30, 2022, through January 29, 2023. A Movement in Every Direction will be accompanied by a two-volume publication that includes commissioned essays by Kiese Laymon, Jessica Lynne, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and Dr. Willie J. Wright.
The Great Migration saw more than six million African Americans leave the South for destinations across the United States at the start of the 20th century and well into the 1970s. This incredible movement of people transformed nearly every aspect of Black life, in both rural towns and urban metropolises, and spurred an already flourishing Black culture.
A Movement in Every Direction provides a platform for the featured artists to explore, reflect on, and capture their own relationships to this singular historic happening, both personally and artistically. Brought together by co-curators Ryan N. Dennis (she/her), MMA Chief Curator and ArtisticDirector of the Museum’s Center for Art and Public Exchange, and Jessica Bell Brown (she/her), BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, the works offer an insightful rumination on the complexity of the Great Migration as a narrative that is still unfolding.
The exhibition showcases an incredible richness of artistic vision and endeavor, with installations ranging widely in conceptual and technical approach and embracing painting, sculpture, drawing, video, sound, and immersive installation. MMA and BMA are also creating digital assets tied to the exhibition for their websites for virtual engagements.
“We asked this group of talented artists to join us on this journey over a year ago, during apandemic, to investigate their connections to the South. The process has been illuminating, and we are so thankful for their excitement and commitment to this project during such a trying time.As each project has developed over the last year, informed by research, explorations, and dialogue, it has become clear that our show will primarily underscore reflections 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, andself-reliance through a variety of expressions,” said Dennis and Brown.
Many of the works in the exhibition engage with new and ongoing research by the artists, examining this history through the lens of contemporary life and establishing incisive parallels across time.