Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates, and Carrie Mae Weems are among the dozen artists who will reflect on the cultural legacy of the Great Migration in an ambitious opening next year at the Mississippi Museum of Art and Baltimore Museum of Art.
The exhibition, “Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration,” which is set to open at the Mississippi Museum in April 2022, before traveling to Baltimiore in October, also includes new commissions from artists Akea Brionne Brown, Zoë Charlton, Larry W. Cook, Torkwase Dyson, Allison Janae Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Robert Pruitt, and Jamea Richmond-Edwards.
“The project is grounded in a key prompt,” said Mississippi Museum chief curator Ryan Dennis and Baltimore Museum associate curator Jessica Bell Brown, who co-organized the show, in a joint statement. “‘What would happen if today’s leading artists were given the space to think about the intersections of the Great Migration in a wholistic, expansive, and dynamic way?’”
The artists, all of whom are Black, work in practices that “deal with personal and communal histories, familial ties, the Black experience, and the ramifications of land ownership and environmental shifts, among so much more, to consider how we can expand our understanding of this essential moment in American history,” the curators added.
Seeking economic opportunities and freedom from Jim Crow laws, more than six million African Americans relocated from the post-Reconstruction South to urban areas in the West, Midwest, and Northeastern U.S. from 1916 through the 1970s. The Great Migration, as the phenomenon was called, forever changed the creative landscape of the country.
Accompanying the show will be a two-volume publication, including newly commissioned essays by writers Kiese Laymon, Jessica Lynne, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and Willie J. Wright.
“The exhibition will attend to and complicate histories of racial violence, trauma, and socio-economic exigency, while also examining the agency seized by those who fled as well as those who stayed behind,” said Dennis and Brown. “In many ways, the story of the Great Migration is neither complete in its current telling nor finished in its contemporary unfolding.”