Rhodes and Community Explore the Arts As Central to City’s Identity

The Memphis Center at Rhodes supports student experiential learning opportunities in surrounding neighborhoods as well as student interactions with community arts organizations. Now it has partnered with local leaders, artists, and stakeholders to host conversations about the role of the arts in Memphis. The “Memphis: Art and Place Symposium” will be held Feb. 18-20 on campus and at various sites in the community. Up for discussion will be the following themes: Arts and Community. What is Public Art?  Equity and Access in Creative Placemaking.

The symposium begins with a lecture by scholar and urban planner Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson. The keynote speaker (sponsored by Rhodes Communities and Conversation) is contemporary artist Mel Chin, who inserts art into unexpected places such as landfills and abandoned houses. 

Rhodes’ Clough-Hanson Gallery has been in a year-long exploration of art’s relationship to place and will host a showing of its current exhibition “de | constructing home.” It features work by Heather Benning and Brent Green, curated in collaboration with Karen Patterson. The exhibition is comprised of video, drawing, and photographs that examine the relationship between the physical structure of the house and the idea of home. The work grapples with memory and nostalgia in its search for healing and catharsis. Alongside this exhibition is a reading and resource room devoted to the connections between art and place, organized by the Mellon Student Fellows at Rhodes.

The symposium also includes the opportunity to attend the opening performance of Ballet Memphis’ new “Places” and concludes with a performance of “Thirteen” by playwright and Rhodes alumna Jazmin Miller.

Community partners involved in the “Memphis: Art and Place Symposium” include Arts Memphis, Ballet Memphis, Crosstown Arts, and the UrbanArt Commission. “This important conference offers a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the richness of Memphis’ arts community as well as its central role in our city,” says Dr. Charles Hughes, director of the Memphis Center. “We’re excited to bring together a variety of people and ideas, and celebrate the many ways that the arts continue to define Memphis.”