Michi Meko USA, b. 1974


“I was curious enough to ask myself what it means we turn ourselves from gazing outward at a mountaintop or a valley, inward towards whatever mountaintop or valley is in ourselves. Is the transcendent moment the scenery? Or is it the inward reflection?”

- Michi Meko

Michi Meko is a multidisciplinary artist whose works engage metaphorically and abstractly with the paradoxes and contradictions that have shaped his personal history and the shared history of Black Americans, particularly in the American South.


Meko nearly drowned in 2015—an experience that continues to resonate within his studio practice today. He says, “Inviting this life-changing event’s influence into my studio practice, my recent paintings and sculptures focus on the African American experience of navigating public spaces while remaining buoyant within them.”


The work creates a transformative and transcendent space in which viewers experience the weight and pressure of feeling threatened, while simultaneously encountering a romanticized psychological and physical space that feels creative and full of possibility.


“The work incorporates the visual language of naval flags and nautical wayfinding, combined with romanticized objects of the American South as a means to communicate the psychological and the physical,” Meko says.“These references signal the warning of a threat or the possibility of safe passage. Working beyond the physical image of the body, objects of buoyancy and navigation become metaphors for selfhood, resilience, and the sanity required in the turbulent oceans of contemporary America.”


In addition to painting, sculpture and installation, one of his ongoing performance projects is The Cast Iron Cruise Line, which launches cast iron skillet sail boats that float out to sea. “This work has interest in the idea of Black Buoyancy, Black Navigation, and the migration patterns of African American food cultures,” Meko says. “The work seeks to question the extra-heavy weight of Blackness in metaphor as cast iron. Defying all belief, science, and reasoning, these skillets float. This ongoing work considers the oral narrative of recipe and food traditions as generational wealth.”


Recent exhibitions of Meko's work include Realms of Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, Michi Meko: Black and Blur, Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Atlanta GA; Michi Meko: It Doesn’t Prepare You for Arrival, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA), Atlanta, GA; Michi Meko: Before We Blast off: The Journey of Divine Forces, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA and Abstraction Today, MOCA GA, Atlanta, GA. His work is held in the collections of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; King & Spalding, Atlanta, GA; Scion (Toyota Motor Corporation), Los Angeles, CA; MetroPark USA Inc., Atlanta, GA; and CW Network, Atlanta, GA, among others. Meko is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and the Atlanta Artadia Award, and was a finalist for the 2019 Hudgens Prize.