The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art (STMA) and the Morgan County African American Museum (MCAAM) held a joint art exhibit opening last weekend, with both museums displaying provocative works of art from five Georgia artists. The exhibit, entitled “5 Perspectives,” pays homage to Black History and the current struggle for racial equality in America. Works from each of the five artists, Kevin Cole, Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier, Kevin Sipp, Shanequa Gay, and Alfred Conteh, will be on display at both the STMA and MCAAM through March.
“We are very happy with the turnout,” said Cheryl Bland, director of the MCAAM. “We are excited to introduce our community to these works of art.”
Fred Perriman, Madison Mayor and board member of the MCAAM, attended the opening and noted the exhibit’s timeliness due to Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
“What a weekend to celebrate such an event,” said Perriman. “What a time to celebrate this wonderful black art in collaboration with the STMA and MCAAM. I think Dr. King would be proud of our museums and our people coming together like this. This shows the progress we have made over the years.”
“It was a huge success!” said Patricia DuBose with the STMA. “All five artists, their friends and family, and the community turned out in droves to see this exciting exhibit. To a person, they all said they were interested in returning for the Round Table discussion on March 3 where each artist will discuss their works and how they use art to interpret issues that are important to them. Calvary Baptist Church provided the shuttle service, which made it so easy for guests to go from one museum to the other. We appreciate their support!”
According to the museums, the artwork featured in “5 Perspectives” simultaneously explores African-American history and contemporary social justice issues. All of the artists offer a unique perspective on past and present issues that speak to a vision for the future.
According to the MCAAM and STMA, “Kevin Cole, Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier, and Kevin Sipp have long provided cultural nourishment for the Atlanta art world and beyond, while Shanequa Gay and Alfred Conteh are celebrated newcomers. Each artist’s work offers a unique perspective, from the spiritual to the political, mythical and esoteric.”
The exhibit will incorporate a myriad of artistic styles, including painting, sculptures, photographs, and textiles.
According to the STMA and MCAAM, all of these artistic styles “boldly embrace universal themes while exploring specific aspects of the human journey—the search for identity, the long for home, the power of spirituality, and the importance of family connections.”
Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier, an Atlanta-based photographer, painter and writer, specializes in documenting people and places of The South since the late 1980s. According to her bio, with numerous prestigious awards under her belt, Linnemeier focuses on “producing prints and documenting dialogue between women from around the world to confront issues in the new millennium. Linnemeier is “a visual mythologist, a memory keeper. She is guided by the idea of the journey, unmapped spaces and the magic that occurs when one goes looking for history and ancestors.”
Kevin Cole, a consultant for the Savannah College of Art and Design who designed a Coca-Cola Centennial Olympic mural for the 1996 Olympics, has earned an impressive amount of awards and grants over a 30-plus year career, as well as landing his artwork in over 470 exhibits across the world. His work is even featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Yale University Art Gallery, and in the Washington Post. “My work has evolved from the use of the necktie as an icon, motif, and symbol of power. The works incorporate patterns and textures from traditional African cloths such as the Kente and Adinkra cloths, cloths that speak to human conditions and behaviors,” wrote Cole. “Throughout all of my work, I continue to investigate the existence of polyrhythmic space and overlapping planes, the raw emotional power of color and texture. In these recent works I have includes scarf shapes that represent the struggles of women. These shapes weave and intertwine around linear painted rods. The rods for me, symbolize strength. After September 11, 2001 I started working on aluminum and (tar) roofing paper as a protest against this American tragedy. In some of the recent small works I utilize the ends of the ties and scarf shapes intergraded with abstract pattern and various kinds of textures. Some critics say these pieces remind them of picket fences which are prevalent in the south with a strong connection to southern plantations.”
Kevin Sipp, a Florida-native, boasts of an impressive 20-year career that has landed many of his works in exhibits across the county and across the globe. He specializes in printmaking, painting, sculpting, and multi-media installation. He is currently the curator at the City of Atlanta’s Gallery 72.
“My work emerges through the layering and remixing of the visual, literary and sonic production of the African Diaspora,” explained Sipp. “It is important to me that I upend the limited box of signifiers that often come to be called black culture. By freely using symbols and signs from various world spiritual traditions, I pay simultaneous homage to the African roots of my heritage and the impact of the world on that heritage.”
Shanequa Gay, an Atlanta native, exhibited her artwork in prestigious museums, colleges, and utilized in film and television.
According to her bio, “Gay has drawn praise and critical acclaim for her depictions of southern life and black women. Her current work, The FAIR GAME Project, is art as advocacy which challenges the unyielding violence and injustices committed in America and across the globe against the black body.”
Alfred Conteh, another Atlanta-based artist uses his platform to focus on justice for the African-American people.
“This body of work is a visual exploration of how African diasporal societies in the south are fighting social, economic, educational and psychological wars from within and without to survive,” wrote Conteh of his “Two Fronts” series. “The honest and false narratives of history embodied in this series are primarily personified in patinated colossuses that commemorate the people, culture, and battles that the populations they tower over have fought and continue to fight. We are at war on two fronts.”
The 5 Perspectives exhibit will be on display at both the STMA and MCAAM from Sunday, January 14 to Saturday, March 17.
A special workshop will be held on Saturday, March 3, which will invite up to 15 local art students to learn from Kevin Cole, who will teach them how to do “mapping” with 3D sculptures. Mapping is the practice of taking a significant moment from your life and transforming it into art.
To find out more information about this event or how you can help fund it, contact Patricia Dubose at the STMA at (706) 342-7557 or Cheryl Bland at (706) 342-9191.