TUSCUMBIA – The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art (TVMA) is hosting art exhibitions by two prominent Southern Black artists, Michi Meko and Lynthia Edwards, as well as displaying artwork by Charlie Lucas and Kerrigan Casey.  

These exhibitions open on Saturday, February 13 and will be on display through Friday, April 2.

“These exhibitions explore the African American experience in the south through the eyes of four established and emerging Black artists. These artists present a diversity of experiences within Black identity. These works of art emphasize and empower Black presence through stunning visual narrative,” said Christi Britten, the executive director of the Tennessee Valley Art Association, which runs the museum.

Michi Meko, a Florence native, is an Atlanta-based artist who has earned national recognition.

He has exhibited at museums across the country and was featured as an Artist in Residence on the streaming service Hulu in 2019.

Following a near drowning in 2015, Meko’s work began to focus on “the African American experience of navigating public spaces while remaining buoyant within them.” Meko’s work explores how the “barrage of images” on social media of African Americans being threatened in public spaces “simulates an experience of drowning.” His exhibition at TVMA is titled When It’s Black Outside: Notes from the Before Times.  

The exhibit has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The museum’s Education Gallery will feature an exhibition by Birmingham artist Lynthia Edwards. Her paintings and collages are “inspired by the ordinary existence of black girls raised in the south.” Edwards’ work expresses the “emotions, thoughts and ideas about the world (each girl) lives in” and aims to “ignite a dialogue amongst the viewers that glorify black girl magic.”

Edwards received attention from the media and the art world when one of her portraits of Senator John Lewis was purchased by the civil rights pioneer himself. In 2020, she also designed voter registration posters for the DC Sparkle Squad project.

Alongside Meko and Edwards is work by world-renowned Alabama folk artist Charlie Lucas and local emerging artist Kerrigan Casey. Paintings and sculptures by Lucas have been curated from the museum’s permanent collection as well as private collectors of his work over recent decades.

Casey is an emerging Florence artist who uses her “own life, music, and culture” to challenge “the Shoals’ perceptions of art” and to explore “beauty and blackness in modern art and free expression.”

The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm and will be open on Saturdays from 10am-3pm during these exhibitions.  Entry is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and free for members of the Tennessee Valley Art Association. Masks are required to enter the museum, and distancing is maintained. Photos of the exhibition and discussions with the artists will be posted to the museum’s website and Facebook page.

For more information, call 256-383-0533 or visit tennesseevalleyarts.org.