While I’m Here…A Different South

Michi Meko

In Residence: May 22 – Jul 17, 2023

Exhibition: Jul 13 – Sep 10, 2023


Michi Meko’s exhibition at Artpace, While I’m Here…A Different South delves into the artist’s journey from Georgia to Texas and his search for the transcendent moment. Through painting, sculpture, and sound, Meko creates a pathway for the viewer through his anxiety toward a tranquil horizon.

Upon entering, the viewer is drawn toward a black acrylic dome that occupies the center of the gallery. It has a charged, monolithic quality and is lit from the interior by red and blue LED lights, which can be seen through crevices laser etched onto the surface. The contrasting colors oscillate back and forth along the surface, like a conversation. The viewer’s eye is pulled across the dome by the sporadic path of the lights. The experience evokes a sense of anxiety and confusion and, at times, arrives in peaceful suspension, akin to the unfolding of a panic attack. We are left wondering if this is the soul of Meko, a supernatural self-portrait on display for the viewer to interpret and engage.

Two large landscape paintings hang on the north and west walls, which depict Meko’s version of the Texas Hill Country. Each environment is blighted and dangerous, consisting of bleached bones, brooding clouds, and plants that cause pain. It is rendered as tainted with a veil of fog-like aberrations. Here, the viewer journeys through a foreboding, molecular landscape, but we are guided beyond it into a peaceful light source of beautiful blue and gold hues. These visual pathways embody the artist’s profound reflections on ethereal phenomena, methods of ritual protection, and their potential to guide us unscathed through a treacherous landscape.

On the south wall, there are five dark gesso canvases that, upon close inspection, are just off the black mark. The color is slightly watered down, a minimal gesture that gives the work faint depth. The viewer is compelled to look closely at each painting’s surface to find the brushstrokes and the subtle aberrations. Always in search of a transcendent experience that is just out of reach, the artist creates that peaceful moment for himself here. Like a psychological test, Meko asks the viewer, what do you see?

Throughout the exhibit, there is a clear undercurrent of tender resolve by the artist to parse through the darkness of anxiety and depression into the cosmic clarity that often follows. While I’m Here…A Different South, Meko’s search for the transformative moment continues.

Ada Smith Genitempo, Residencies and Exhibitions Manager



Artist

Michi Meko

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Multidisciplinary artist Michi Meko (b. 1974, Florence, Alabama) He received a BFA in Painting from the University of North Alabama.Michi Meko has exhibited widely, most recently holding solo exhibitions at Susan Inglett; New York, Kavi Gupta, Chicago; Gallerie Myrtis, Baltimore ,MD; Richmmond Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; Chimento Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA; Cress Gallery at University of Chattanooga; Westobou Gallery, Augusta, GA; and MOCA GA, Atlanta GA. Group shows include Contemporary Arts Center, Mobile, AL; Zuckerman Museum of Art. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw GA; and Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA among many others. In 2017 Meko was awarded two prestigious grants: the Atlanta Artadia Award and the Joan Mitchell Award. In addition, Meko has received a DashBoard Co-Op Residency Grant, an Idea Capital Grant, a Flux Projects Grant. Meko has also taught at Anderson Ranch SnowMass, CO. His work is collected in the permanent collection of the High Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Art.

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Curator

Alejo Benedetti

Alejo Benedetti is Acting Curator, Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In his role at the museum, he focuses on art since 1960 and oversees the Contemporary Art Galleries and the outdoor sculpture program. He is the curator for Listening Forest by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a mid-career retrospective of the internationally acclaimed artist’s outdoor sculptures on view in Crystal Bridges’ North Forest through January of 2023. 

In 2020, he co-curated State of the Art 2020, bringing together 61 contemporary artists from across the United States in an exhibition that opened at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary and is now traveling. Benedetti also organized the 2019 exhibition, Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, which looked at art-world responses to Superman and Wonder Woman and traveled to the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Addison Gallery of American Art. At Crystal Bridges he has also acted as venue curator for major exhibitions including, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse (2022) and Ansel Adams in our Time (2021), among others. 

He is originally from Texas and earned his master’s degree in Art History from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Missouri, Columbia. 

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