September 10 - February 5, 2022
From Art League Houston:
“*Opening Reception: Masks, temperature checks and social distancing are required; gallery attendance will be monitored and guests may be asked to wait outside (refreshments will be available).
*Artist Talk: Limited in person availability by RSVP only (email [email protected] if you would like to make a reservation). Masks, temperature checks and social distancing are required. If you are not able to join us in person you can watch the live streamed artist talk via our social media accounts – more details to come through our website and social media on how/where to stream.
*Exhibitions are on view by appointment only – follow this link to view our COVID health and safety protocols, and to book your appointment. Any programming or scheduling updates will be posted to our ALH website and social media accounts.
Art League Houston (ALH) is honored to celebrate Dallas-based Artist Vicki Meek as the 2021 Texas Artist of the Year. Recognized as an artist, curator, writer, organizer and arts advocate, Meek’s career embodies the ethos of the Texas Artist of the Year award in her steadfast devotion to both the creation and support of the arts over the years. Meek’s multimedia, interdisciplinary practice focuses on cultural memory, identity, and social issues in relation to the African diaspora, underscored by an underlying hope and emphasis on collective healing. Meek’s exhibition at Art League Houston, The Journey to Me, thematically visualizes her development as an artist through a curated series of three site-specific installations extending throughout the ALH galleries. In a recent Dallas Morning News review by Lauren Smart of Meek’s 2021 Nasher Public installation for the Nasher Sculpture Center, Stony the Road We Trod, Meek states: “I want people to start thinking about the Black community in the affirmative. We didn’t just survive. We thrived in spite of everything.” This sense of hopefulness is highlighted throughout much of Meek’s practice, which prioritizes and supports forgotten, left behind histories and identities. In conjunction with the exhibition, ALH is publishing a catalogue designed by Lindsay Starr chronicling Meek’s history of installation-based work, including color images and a scholarly essay by Lauren Cross, PhD, College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas.
Meek’s solo exhibition at ALH will serve as a visual exploration of her artistic development over the years. Comprising of an amalgamation of installation-based work, sculpture, printmaking and technology, the exhibition will cite the major influences on Meek’s singular aesthetic and artistic practice, specifically relating to the late Elizabeth Catlett (Meek’s mentor) and African cosmology and spiritual practices.
“As an artist obtaining a Master of Fine Arts at the height of the Black Power Movement, it is not surprising that my work embraces a political outlook, especially given that my artistic idols are Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. The aesthetic I developed includes both the notion of utilizing text and symbolism derived from West Africa and other parts of the African diaspora, while striving to educate the viewer on lost history and social issues. I’ve explored imagery that is not rooted in polemics, but that prompts dialogue around cultural memory and identity.
My choice to create a three-gallery installation for my Texas Artist of the Year exhibition was one that I hope provides a summary of my artistic and aesthetic development. I have been working in the medium of installation for over 40 years and in that time have seen my practice grow in many ways. What started as an overt exploration of sociopolitical circumstances confronting African people worldwide that were more generic than personal, took a decidedly spiritual turn after the birth of my children.
I was raised on the artwork created by the late artist Elizabeth Catlett (Mora), an artist who never shied away from the difficult issues around race and gender. Much of my early work embraced her philosophy on the role of the artist in society, so likewise, it tackled similar issues. The Main Gallery installation at ALH reimagines twenty of Catlett’s most iconic political artworks, along with her voice and my singing.
As one moves into the Hallway Gallery space, the installation begins to chronicle my shift to exploring the sociopolitical through a spiritual lens, using African cosmology and spiritual ritual. Typically, prior to becoming a mother, I used the connection to history and memory as the inspiration for my work. With The Journey to Me, I continue doing this, only this time using my personal history & memory. My take on this shift is that motherhood humanized me in ways I could not have imagined!
The Front Gallery is the culminating installation and pays homage to four generations of my ancestry. Here I get to acknowledge my real foundation as both a woman and an artist: those ancestors upon whose shoulders I stand today, rooted in the history of Black Africa that was transplanted in America.” – Vicki Meek
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Meek is a nationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely throughout her career. She is currently represented by Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas, Texas. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the African American Museum of Dallas, Dallas, Texas; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, Texas; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Paul Quinn College, Dallas, Texas; Serie Project, Austin, Texas; and Norwalk Community College, Norwalk, Connecticut. Meek was awarded three public arts commissions with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Art Program and was selected as a co-artist for the Dallas Convention Center Public Art Project, the largest public art project in Dallas. Most recently, Meek exhibited at the Nasher Sculpture Center as part of their public art initiative, Nasher Public, featuring Stony the Road we Trod: A Shrine to Black America—a contemporary shrine dedicated to the Black community (January 7–February 14, 2021).
Meek was selected as one of ten national artists to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nasher Sculpture Center with the commissioning of a site-specific installation that was part of Nasher XChange (October 2013 through February 2014). Meek’s retrospective, Vicki Meek: 3 Decades of Social Commentary, opened in November 2019 at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, Texas. In January 2020, she premiered an art video at Denton Black Film Festival, signaling a new period of creating work using video as the primary medium. The artist calls these new works “video comments” since they are no more than eight minutes in length and are created in a series format.
Meek is the recipient of numerous grants and honors including the National Endowment for the Arts NFRIG Grant; the Dallas Observer MasterMind Award; the Dallas Museum of Art Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant; Texas Black Filmmakers Mission Award; Women of Visionary Influence Mentor Award; and the Dallas Women’s Foundation Maura Award. She was nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and received the African American Museum of Dallas A. Maceo Smith Award for Cultural Achievement. In addition to working as an artist with an active studio practice, Meek is also an independent curator and writes cultural criticism for Dallas Weekly with her blog Art & Racenotes.
Meek recently served as an adjunct faculty member for UMass Arts Extension Service Program in Amherst, MA, where she taught a course in Cultural Equity in the Arts. With over forty years of arts administrative experience that includes working as a senior program administrator for a state arts agency, a local arts agency and running a non-profit visual arts center, Vicki Meek retired in March 2016 after nearly 20 years as the Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center in Dallas, Texas. Additionally, she served on the board of the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network, 2008–15 (Chair from 2012–14). In 2016, Meek was selected to be a Fellow in the Intercultural Leadership Institute and became a Voting Member of Alternate Roots, a national artist service organization. Vicki Meek currently spends time as Chief Operating Officer and Board Member of USEKRA: Center for Creative Investigation, a retreat for creatives in Costa Rica founded by internationally acclaimed performance artist Elia Arce. She is also Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s at-large appointment to the Arts and Culture Commission and the Public Art Committee.
Major funding for the 2021 Texas Artist of the Year exhibition and catalogue was generously provided by the John P. McGovern Foundation in the name of Kathrine G. McGovern, Jacques Louis Vidal Charitable Fund, Sheila Heimbinder, Rick Lowe Studio, Melanie Lawson & John Guess, Jr., Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas, Texas, In Memoriam to Betty Hays, Ellie Meek & David Tweedy, and Jackie Jackson.”
Reception: September 10, 2021 | 6–8 pm
1953 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, 77006 TX
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