By Sarah Wibell
The opening of the Connexus exhibit at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center on Friday night, February 8, encouraged discourse among visitors. Literally meaning a coming together, Connexus features a collaboration of museums and artists displaying various perspectives on African-American history, culture, and activism. The MMCC has partnered with the Morgan County African-American Museum and Steffen Thomas Museum of Art for this exhibit in which each museum has a room dedicated to an artist or artists who have created vibrant art using varying mediums.
“Every opening elicits a different response from people,” noted MMCC Visual Arts Chairperson Mitzi Prochnow. “MMCC Executive Director Kim Brown noticed that this particular exhibit’s opening was very provocative, engaging, and nostalgic for many of our visitors. We observed that this exhibit created conversation and community among the visitors.”
Works by George Andrews, Charmaine Minniefield, Steffen Thomas, Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, and Chris Cook fill three galleries. Personal experiences, civil rights, human rights, ancestral veneration, activism, and brotherhood are just some of the themes and motivation behind the art.
“The staff and the members of the MMCC were extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the Morgan County African-American Museum and the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art,” Brown stated. “We were so pleased with the installation and how it was received with our sister art institutions, the artists, and the public.”
Prochnow added, “There is a broad range of diversity of age, gender, and race of the artists. George Andrews was a piece of our past in Madison. Many people who have lived in Morgan County a long time remember George Andrews and his family. In that particular room, there was a lot of fond storytelling going on during the opening.
“In the gallery with Steffen Thomas, Cook, and Leithauser-Lesley, people were moved by the powerful messages of brotherhood. Steffen Thomas was an international, prolific artist whose influence was represented 40 years ago. I think Leanna and Chris are both up and coming artists with unique art and points of view.
“Charmaine has received a lot of attention recently; the impact of her art is extremely current. Her passion for art activism and civil change really shines through. My favorite parts of the exhibit are each of those qualities about all of those artists.
“It meant a lot to people to have the three artists there as well as Lisa Conner, Steffen Thomas’s daughter. It was a reason why people lingered longer. People were sharing their stories with one another. It was a really special opening.”
The exhibit can be seen at the MMCC through May 5.