MCA Denver spotlights southern Black heritage

The Dirty South exhibit runs through Feb. 5

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 12/14/22

Every morning when Nikki Swarn goes to work at the radio station, she is greeted with the smiling faces of Black creators, all who share their stories on the airwaves about how R&B and hip hop …

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MCA Denver spotlights southern Black heritage

The Dirty South exhibit runs through Feb. 5

Posted

Every morning when Nikki Swarn goes to work at the radio station, she is greeted with the smiling faces of Black creators, all who share their stories on the airwaves about how R&B and hip hop music has impacted their lives and inspired their art.

As a person of color, Swarn, the general manager and program director at 104.7 The Drop, is impacted daily by the positive representations of Black music, art and other media artists. Swarn believes that it is important to highlight positive narratives of people of color.

“It is all about dignity, respect and recognition of the contributions we have made, not only to American culture, but cultures around the world,” said Swarn. “We are a diverse people with beautiful, important stories that must be told. There’s nothing like seeing ourselves, our cultures, our power depicted in uplifting stories of encouragement that solidifies our value and our voices.”

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, in collaboration with Swarn’s 104.7 The Drop, are hosting the museum’s latest cultural exhibit, “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and the Sonic Impulse.” The exhibit runs through Feb. 5 and explores the aesthetic legacies and traditions of Black culture in the South as seen through the lens of contemporary Black musical expression. The exhibit, originally organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has worked its way around the United States highlighting southern Black culture. It is wrapping up its nationwide tour in Denver.

“The Dirty South exhibition is a reflection of the profound influence African American southern culture has had on America. The vehicle of hip-hop, the exploration of social justice, the Black body, religion, cultural values, and more are enveloped throughout this poignant moment in history. So often stories from people of color have been left out of positive narratives in many forms of media, art and entertainment,” said Swarn. “We are so proud to partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver as we re-define contemporary art and celebrate a social movement that feeds the soul, tells our truths and our diverse story. We are proud to be the only city west of the Mississippi to display and close out the tour of this phenomenal exhibition — so fitting as we stand in the illustrious light and history of Five Points, the Harlem of the West.”

Nora Burnett Abrams, the Mark. G. Falcone director at MCA Denver, shared why the partnership with 104.7 The Drop is so special for the exhibit and for Denver.

“104.7 The Drop is so much more than an incredible radio station — it also serves as a dedicated community advocate and champion of cultural life in this city,” Abrams said. “It is an honor to be partnering with The Drop to help share the story of our current exhibition, “The Dirty South,” which celebrates the vibrance and diversity of Black culture. Together we are creating dynamic, relevant and expansive opportunities for museum visitors and listeners of 104.7 The Drop to engage meaningfully in this exhibition.”

Swarn encourages everyone to see “The Dirty South” exhibit because it is iconic, engaging, emotional and draws all the senses, she said.

“Recognition of the southern diaspora and its influence on America and beyond, is tasted, smelled, seen and heard in this exhibition. It is an open invitation to partake in a culture whose narrative has not always been its own,” said Swarn. “The exhibition elicits so many feelings and emotions (that) multiple visits may be required. Bring your family, friends and students to see it up close, then engage in conversations about its impact.”

MCA Denver, The Dirty South, 104.7 The Drop, Colorado,

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