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.
Michi MekoBaggage: Leave Me Better Than You Found Me., 2021Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Oil Pastel, White Prismacolor Pencil (pc938), Areosol, Areosol Holigram Glitter, India Ink, Krink, Aluminium tent Pole, Paper Bag, Black Corner Store Plastic Bag, Wire, Parachord, Lantern, LED Lights, Duct- Tape, Fringe, Red Push Pen, Wood Screws, Nails, Patio Planks on Panel40 x 64 x 8 in
101.6 x 162.6 x 20.3 cm
Michi MekoInna Silk Suit Trying Not To Sweat., 2021Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Oil Pastel, White Prismacolor Pencil (pc938), Areosol,
Areosol Holigram Glitter, Gouache, India Ink, Krink on Panel56 x 80 in
142.2 x 203.2 cm
Michi MekoThe Long View, 2021Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Oil Pastel, White Prismacolor Pencil (pc938), Areosol, Areosol Holigram Glitter, Gouache, India Ink, Krink on Canvas60 x 84 x 1.25 in
152.4 x 213.4 x 3.2 cm
Michi MekoWishes: A Promise to Send Us Into Ourselves. Free to Travel, Adrift From Our Pagan Land, 2019Mixed media and found objects on panel42 x 58 x 9 in
106.7 x 147.3 x 22.9 cm
Forthcoming, Michi Meko, Dark Was The Night And Cold Was The GroundKavi Gupta | Washington Blvd Fl. 1 4 Jun - 20 Aug 2022Kavi Gupta presents Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground, a solo exhibition and catalogue of new work by Michi Meko, Joan Mitchell Foundation Grantee and Artadia Award winner....
The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic ImpulseCrystal Bridges Museum | Bentonville, AR 12 Mar - 15 Jul 2022Traveling to Crystal Bridges in 2022: The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, examines southern aesthetic and musical...
Realms of RefugeKavi Gupta | 219 N. Elizabeth St. Chicago, IL 60607 10 Jul - 30 Oct 2021Kavi Gupta is proud to present Realms of Refuge, a group show bringing together for the first time new works by eight of the most dynamic artists working today: Dominic Chambers, Allana Clarke, Basil Kincaid, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Suchitra Mattai, Michi Meko, Devan Shimoyama, and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter.
The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic ImpulseVirginia Museum of Fine Arts | Richmond, VA 22 May - 6 Sep 2021The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, investigates the aesthetic impulses of early 20th-century Black culture that have...
EXPO CHICAGO 20227 - 10 Apr 2022It is with great excitement that Kavi Gupta celebrates the return of EXPO Chicago. After almost three years, we are once again able to spotlight...
Art Basel Miami Beach 20212 - 4 Dec 2021For Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, Kavi Gupta presents an array of timely and important works by all of the artists represented in our diverse...
The Armory Show 20219 - 12 Sep 2021Sharing art in person is truly one of our most cherished experiences. While curating our booth for The Armory Show 2021, we were conscious to...
Frieze New York Viewing Room 20216 - 9 May 2021For Frieze New York 2021, Kavi Gupta presents an online exhibition highlighting key works from some of today’s most influential contemporary artists. Recent works by...