The Art Collection of the Memphis International Airport (MEM) includes a selection of purchased and commissioned works from emerging and established artists who are based in Memphis or connected to our city. These artists represent an ever-evolving arts community that meaningfully contributes to the rich cultural fabric of this city. Whether viewers are enjoying the details of a photograph or taking in an expansive mural, the collection offers an introduction to the many sides of Memphis; for those who call the city home, it is a warm welcome, familiar but never predictable.
Inherent in the selected works is a sense of Memphis’s rich history as a place rooted in activism and civil rights, art, and music, and the continuation of that sacred legacy today. A deep connection to the natural and urban environment is also expressed throughout. The collection spans a variety of media and conveys the sense that Memphis is at once fiercely local but inherently global.
Sweet 16 | Artful Presence: Portraits from the Hattiloo Theatre Collection

Apr 17, 2022 - Jul 10, 2022

Presented by: The Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by: The Dixon Gallery and Gardens

This spring, come experience something new and exciting at the Dixon! Each of our sixteen gallery spaces will feature an independent, Dixon-organized exhibition. From whimsical Rococo German porcelain to contemporary American abstraction, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and be inspired by in Sweet Sixteen.

Artful Presence: Portraits from the Hattiloo Theatre Collection Willmott Gallery.

This exhibition features a selection of portraits of renowned Black playwrights, actors, and other figures from the collection of Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis. Founded in 2006, Hattiloo is the only freestanding Black repertory theater in the Mid-South and one of only four such theaters in the country. In its fifteenth season, the theater has mounted more than fifty theatrical productions from The Wiz to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Zora Neale Hurston, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas

Memphis on the Mississippi (Ode to Tom Lee)
In 2022, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art commissioned the Memphis-based artist Carl E. Moore to create a work inspired by the museum’s soon-to-be new location on the banks of the Mississippi River. Memphis on the Mississippi (Ode to Tom Lee) presents a view of the river and the city of Memphis from the Arkansas bank looking east. Aside from an iPhone tucked inside a pocket, Moore’s painting omits visual signs of the present day, instead focusing on the river’s eternal quality and looking to its history, present, and future.
Historically, Memphis was founded and grew from its connection to the river, and later the connecting railways, as a site of trade in goods and enslaved peoples. The Trail of Tears—the forced westward migration of 60,000 indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands during the 1830s—passed through Memphis as the river crossing point. At the center of the painting is a gilded boat; a reference to the battered wooden vessel captained by Tom Lee, a Black river worker, who on May 8, 1925 saved the lives of thirty-two people when the steamer the M.E.Norman overturned. Lee became a national hero, and today the public park by the river is named in his honor.
Moore recognizes this history, but also focuses on what the site means today for Black Americans. Memphis is known for its civil rights activism, but it is equally important, if not activist in itself, to depict Memphis at leisure. The composition is inspired by one of the most renowned paintings of riverside recreation, the French painter Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884). The scale of Moore’s work, which is far larger than Seurat’s painting, positions Memphis and the Mississippi River as an iconic location. It is a site that has witnessed the tumult of Memphis’s past, reminds us to find joy in the present, and encourages us, in this moment of the city’s rapid development, to consider the future we want to create.
“The work of Carl E. Moore and David Jon Walker shares a range of overlapping concerns which include illustrating affirmations of humanity, addressing the ongoing struggle for civil rights and human rights, shared graphic sensibilities and commonalities in the expression of characters, figures, and typography, a love of process, and an ongoing pursuit of innovation within in their practices." Curated by Brian R. Jobe.
Carl E. Moore’s monumental multi-panel painting My South stems from the artist’s ongoing body of work focusing on the everyday dimensions of Black American life. Rendered in Moore’s characteristic style of solid colors and bold outlines, the painting explores the artist’s memories of growing up in the South. Set against rural and urban landscapes, his figures are situated in a blissful, nurturing state, surrounded by flowers, fruits, and honeybees. While much of the artist’s work focuses on racial identity and color, his use of black here shifts attention away from the race of the figures and instead to a more universal experience.
Moore wanted My South to draw attention away from stereotypes that deal with race and culture through a negative lens. The painting is about environment and identity and how the South is, in many ways, no different than any other place. There is life, love, history, and family. For the artist, the painting is also personal: it is about growing up in Mississippi, the memories of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and moving away knowing that he would always have a home to which he could return. 
-Patricia Lee Daigle
"PAUSE. People, Places and Scenes" will open Feb. 3rd thru April 30th at The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.
The exhibition is a reflection of people living in their community, living their life and in their space, as black Americans living in a PAUSED position waiting. Waiting for the next headline or event to happen.
MassArt x SoWa is pleased to present the first in a series of graduate alumni curatorial projects, Protest and Power, on view from September 25-October 24, 2021. This exhibition is curated by Keith M. Francis.
Protest and Power explores the historic Civil Rights movement alongside the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement as a means of addressing the violence and racism that are embedded in the fabric of our nation. The concurrent pandemics of COVID-19 and violence against people of color call upon us to seize this moment, to engage issues of race and inequity with renewed energy and a vision for an equitable and enlightened future.
TONE, new exhibition " LIVING IN A BURING HOUSE" opens September 4 - October 16. The show is An Exploration of Empathy and Restorative Justice. Participating artist: Corian Close, Phillip Jackson, Le Marquee La Flora, Lester Merryweather,. Carl E Moore.
Presented by The University of Memphis Student Curatorial Team, the group exhibition Hindsight 2020 is a reflection on the scope of events encompassed by the year 2020 through the lens of artists of color, LGBTQ+ artists, and other artists with non-traditionally represented identities. The exhibition present artworks that address the pandemic, recent political strife, social injustices, and movements responding to these injustices.
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