The Journey to Me
Art League Houston
September 10, 2021 – February 5, 2022
Meek’s award will be further commemorated in the exhibition at Art League Houston, The Journey to Me, which thematically visualizes the development of the artist’s practice through three site-specific installations extending throughout the ALH galleries. Employing sculpture, printmaking, and technology, among other media, the exhibition will cite the artist’s major influences such as references to Meek’s late mentor Elizabeth Catlett and African cosmology and spiritual practices. 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 too frequently forgotten, left behind histories and identities.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Art League Houston is publishing a catalogue, Vicki Meek: Installation as Social Commentary.
To purchase the catalogue, see here.
To learn more about the exhibition, see here.
“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
Vicki Meek, born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a nationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely. Meek is in the permanent collections of the African American Museum in Dallas, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Serie Art Project in Austin and Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut. She was awarded three public arts commissions with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Art Program and was co-artist on the largest public art project in Dallas, the Dallas Convention Center Public Art Project.
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. Meek’s retrospective “Vicki Meek: 3 Decades of Social Commentary” opened in November 2019 at Houston Museum of African American Culture and marked the end of her concentrating solely on her installation practice as she moves into creating work using video as the primary medium. She dubs these new works video comments since they are no more than 8 minutes in length and are done in a series format.
Vicki Meek has been awarded a number of grants and honors including National Endowment for the Arts NFRIG Grant, Dallas Observer MasterMind Award, Dallas Museum of Art Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant, Texas Black Filmmakers Mission Award, Women of Visionary Influence Mentor Award, Dallas Women’s Foundation Maura Award, nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the African American Museum at Dallas A. Maceo Smith Award for Cultural Achievement and was selected as the 2021 Texas Artist of the Year by Art League of Houston.
In addition to having a studio practice, Vicki Meek is an independent curator and writes cultural criticism for Dallas Weekly with her blog Art & Racenotes (http://artracenotes.blogspot.com) and also wrote a monthly column, ARTiculate for TheaterJones, an online performing arts magazine.
Meek was an adjunct faculty member for UMass Arts Extension Program in Amherst, Massachusetts where she taught a course in Cultural Equity in the Arts. With over 40+ 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, after 20 years, Vicki Meek retired in March 2016 as the Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center in Dallas. She served on the board of National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network 2008-15 and was Chair from 2012-2014. In 2016, Meek was selected to be a Fellow in the Intercultural Leadership Institute and also 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 non-profit 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. Meek is represented by Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, Texas.