Chimento Contemproary (E.C.LINA) is pleased to announce, When It’s Black Outside, our first exhibition with Atlanta-based artist Michi Meko. For this exhibition the gallery will present works on paper, embellished cast-iron skillets, and the installation of SHE.
Meko utilizes metaphors for the historical process through which African-American heritage can be rediscovered through lines of descent. This heritage is preserved by honoring the ancestral lineage through which it came — in this case, using cast-iron skillets as metaphor for the extra heavy weight of Blackness. This ongoing assemblage series also considers generational wealth and the oral narrative of recipe and food traditions of the Black South. SHE is a large scale, site specific sculptural sound work that plays Alice Coltrane's ER RA alongside a water feature that vocalizes its presence within a sculpted fountain.
Meko seeks freedom from the complicated narratives that are often attached to the black body, and utilizes mapping as a point of navigation, a directional that is meant to guide one through the ever-present conflicts of the contemporary American landscape. The psychological imagery of navigation acts as a metaphor for selfhood, resilience and the sanity required to survive the turbulent oceans of contemporary society.
After nearly drowning in 2015, Meko introduced water themes within his works to address the African American experience of navigating public spaces while remaining buoyant within them. These themes mark a transformative space where the old can be washed away, a signifier for a hopeful future. As Meko states “I am interested in African Americans and ideas about buoyancy, navigation, and being resilient. This resiliency for me is heroic.”
Using cartography and nautical themes as portraiture, abstractions of maps become contradictions in Meko's work. This topographical landscape could be seen as a space of wilderness – a wilderness where environmental conditions can change without notice. The navigator may attempt to prepare for arrival, but in Meko’s environments predicting safe travel is never a guarantee.
Michi Meko graduated from the University of North Alabama with a BFA in painting. In 2017 he was awarded two prestigious grants: the Atlanta Artadia Award and the Joan Mitchell Award. Meko’s work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at Dodd Galleries, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA; and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. In addition, Meko has received a DashBoard Co-Op Residency Grant, an Idea Capital Grant, a Flux Projects Grant, and a Wonderroot CSA Grant. Meko has held a studio residency at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and was a Forward Arts Foundation finalist in 2005 and 2008. His work can be found in many public collections including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.