On March 4, 2022, Meredith College’s Weems Gallery hosted a closing reception for featured artist, Alexandria Clay.
Clay’s series ‘I Carry Them On My Back, Of Course!’ is about searching for shelter from the trauma of experiencing marginalized spaces. She uses multimedia collages and portraiture to portray the Black matriarchs in her life who create and maintain these spaces safe from marginalization.
“For me, I think a space that is safe is one where I feel considered. My identity feels considered, and it’s one where I feel welcomed, and it’s one where I feel protected,” said Clay.
At the reception, Clay mingled with attendees, answering any questions they had and discussing the themes among her art.
As Clay’s exhibition came to a close, she said having her work on display at a college has been a unique experience.
“I think it’s different from any other type of exhibition I’ve been in because I’m more specifically interacting with students. It’s a different population than just the everyday community,” said Clay.
On display January 24 through March 11, the exhibition featured various events. These events included an opening reception, a curated conversation between Clay and Michael S. Williams, founder of The Black on Black Project and co-sponsor of the exhibition, and an artist workshop with Clay.
During Clay’s workshop, she had the opportunity to connect with students and hear their own experiences.
“It’s been really nice to have people relate to what I’m talking about. Even in different ways, because everybody’s experience is different. But having people say, ‘Yeah, I can really connect to that,’ is cool,” she said.
Gallery Director Molly Hull said Clay’s exhibition drew a large crowd. Hull noticed students connected with the featured artist.
“With her being as young as she is, but also successful, she’s been able to relate to students in ways that other visiting artists or exhibiting artists have not. And students are opening up to her because she’s created a safe space in the gallery,” said Hull. “So it’s been awesome seeing students being so honest.”
Clay hopes her exhibition inspired viewers to have conversations they have never had before. She also hopes it encouraged them to recognize the impact others have had on their lives, much like matriarchs have had on hers.
“I am hoping that when I do make these drawings of these matriarchs and these people who have had incredible impacts on my life and I know on others’ lives, that it’s serving as a tribute,” said Clay. “I’m putting all of this love and care into the drawing process and the dyeing process to prepare this space for them to exist in. I’m hoping that translates so that people will see the work and maybe understand the impact that they’ve had on my life.”
You can learn more about Weems Gallery and upcoming exhibitions at gallery.meredith.edu.