TONE, Memphis Music Initiative, Hattiloo Theatre, Tom Lee Park, Indie Memphis,
and Others Celebrate Diversity, Creativity and Innovation In The Arts

MEMPHIS, TN, UNITED STATES, October 11, 2023 / — Long credited as an epicenter of art, innovation and culture, Memphis is further elevating its leadership in advancing support for artists of color. Recently declared America’s largest majority-Black city by the US Census, cultural institutions across the city of Memphis are offering grants, programs, and new unique exhibits and events supporting Black art and artists. From longstanding Black institutions to new programs and initiatives, a collection of Memphis organizations are joining to celebrate multicultural artistry, creativity and innovation through a series of programs this fall.

TONE ( Before TONE heads to N.A.D.A Miami in December, starting October 21 through December 12, explore love through the lens with femme-presenting queer photographers MadameFraankie and Kai Ross at TONE’s Lens Language exhibition. Using photography, they capture love in many forms, from everyday moments to the extraordinary, spanning romance, friendship, and more. Also, on October 28th, TONE will throw “Black October” one of the city’s favorite Halloween parties at the Orange Mound Tower. Featuring a lineup of DJs, dance contests, and more, this can’t-miss event is back and even better than ever.

MEMPHIS MUSIC INITIATIVE ( Memphis Music Initiative has launched “Call & Response: The Sound of a Black Arts Revolution” to bolster Black- and brown-led creative youth development organizations. The program will use influence, voice, and dollars to champion power and institution building, creative liberation, and organizing and mobilizing through advocacy. It promises to be a mirror, a milepost, and a microphone for young people, highlighting who they really are, showing them the history that has informed the conditions that brought them here, and preparing them to fight with vigor for the lives and city they want to see.

BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART ( Through January 7, Black American Portraits reframes the history of portraiture to center Black American subjects, sitters, and spaces. The exhibition chronicles the many ways in which Black Americans have used portraiture to envision themselves in their own eyes. The presentation of Black American Portraits at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will highlight the city’s vibrant legacy of visual art, incorporating artworks held in our permanent collection as well as loans of historical and contemporary works by Black artists with Memphis connections.

TOM LEE PARK ( Six years after Memphis removed Confederate statues from its downtown parks, the city has reopened its transformed downtown riverfront – the new 31-acre Tom Lee Park. The stunning signature park is where Memphis meets the river and is the city’s new front door for all to enjoy. There are two major new permanent works of public art in the park by Theaster Gates of Chicago and James Little, a native of Memphis who now lives in New York City. Gates’s large-scale stone installation, A Monument to Listening, honors Tom Lee, a Black river worker who, at great personal risk, rescued people he’d never met from drowning in the river in the early ’20s. The new works join a sculpture of Tom Lee by David Alan Clark erected in 2006 before the park’s recent renovation.

HATTILOO THEATRE ( America’s leading Black Theatre is continuing a season of sold-out shows. Memphis’ own Hattiloo Theatre, which is a beacon of Black creativity and innovation, will unveil its production of Father Comes Home From the Wars written by Susan Lori-Parks through October 22nd. The production explores themes of slavery, freedom, loyalty, and identity during the Civil War era, reflecting on the historical struggles faced by African Americans.

INDIE MEMPHIS ( One of the country’s most diverse and mission driven independent film festivals, Indie Memphis will once again host its Black Creators Forum October 21, 22 and 27. The heart of the Black Creators Forum is a three-day symposium (online and in person) which includes speakers and workshops for Black artists led by notable Black filmmakers, scholars, industry professionals and critics. The goal is to share strategies, foster collaborations and build sustainable networks to ease the barrier to entry for Black visionaries in multiple disciplines who want to work in film. The Forum also supports year-round screenings, events, and grant opportunities for emerging Black filmmakers.

DIXON GALLERY & GARDENS ( As the most ambitious exhibition program the Dixon has ever conceived, Black Artists in America, organized in three installments, considers the last two-thirds of the twentieth century in three discrete blocks of time. This second installment opening October 22, 2023, titled Black Artists in America: From Civil Rights to the Bicentennial, focuses on the further rise and maturation of the civil rights movement, the growing activism and assertiveness of Black artists throughout the 1960s, and the battle for greater recognition and rights in the early 1970s. The final iteration, which will open at the Dixon in the fall of 2025, will pick up where the second leaves off, carrying us through to the millennium and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that continue to shape our world. The Dixon is also proud to extend free admission for visitors to experience their exhibitions and gardens.

RHODES COLLEGE ( Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College will present Young, Gifted and Black: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art. Making its debut in the American South and on view through Dec. 9, 2023, this wide-ranging exhibition highlights artists of African descent whose work explores politics, identity, and art history, among other themes. Young, Gifted and Black features a range of contemporary artworks in various media and organized around four themes — dramatic use of color, reclamation of the color black, materiality (non-traditional materials), and an expanded idea of portraiture. The exhibition also gathers and elevates an emerging generation of contemporary artists who are engaging with their predecessors while finding new and different ways to address the history and meaning of Blackness.

From art to innovation, to discover more about the unique culture and community of Memphis visit

Brittney Adu
Memphis Brand
[email protected]
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