A new art exhibit entitled “5 Perspectives” will be on display at both the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art (STMA) and the Morgan County African American Museum (MCAAM) in a collaborative effort to celebrate of Black History Month through a diverse collection of art that is being described as an homage to “contemporary social justice.”
According to the MCAAM and STMA, the exhibit will feature works by five of “Georgia’s most vibrant and exciting contemporary artists.”
Artwork from Kevin Cole, Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier, Kevin Sipp, Shanequa Gay, and Alfred Conteh will be on display at both museums. Each of the five artists’ work will be represented at both museums, but each museum will feature different works by each of the artists.
An opening reception will be held on Sunday, January 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., beginning at the MCAAM, which will provide shuttle buses for attendees to travel to the STMA to view both museums’ exhibits throughout the afternoon. The artists as well will be present at both locations throughout the day to speak about their art.
“I hope the community realizes from this collaboration that we are better if we work together. Separate is no good,” said Cheryl Bland, director of the MCAAM. “We want to expose more African-American people to the STMA and more people in this community to the MCAAM, to give everybody a better appreciation of the arts.”
“This is the perfect way to do just that,” added Patricia DuBose from the STMA. “It also ties in well with Steffen Thomas as an artist who expressed his life experiences and what he felt was important just as these artists are taking their life experiences and transforming them into art.”
Steffen Thomas once said, “The world is too small for less than Brotherhood—too dangerous for less than truth.” According to the STMA, “A reoccurring theme in his art, that of depicting humanity as a family of universal commonalities, an idea that all people despite differences in their religion, gender, nationality, and citizenship were in fact a brotherhood seems as relevant now as when Steffen Thomas arrived on the American art scene in 1929. It is very much that spirit of inclusiveness which marks this upcoming show.”
Leaders of the STMA and MCAAM are eager to introduce this unique and powerful collection of art to the public, showcasing talented Georgia artists who are trying to convey a culturally relevant message through their work.
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 STMA and MCAAM are looking forward to introducing the community to these artists’ body of work.
“We are not that geographically far away from Atlanta,” said Bland. “We want to start bringing more talented artists from the Atlanta-area to our area, so people here can expand their appreciation of the arts.”
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.