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Expanding the Legacy of Mildred Thompson: Part 1

About the organizations

Black Women in Visual Art (BWVA) is an organization for womxn, visual art and culture professionals of the African Diaspora. BWVA aims to foster networks, share resources and develop programs with the goal of increasing visibility for women in the global majority. BWVA was created to steward and nurture enduring representation and leadership in the visual arts and cultural sector.

Tessera Arts Collective is a non-profit arts organization founded in 2018 that supports womxn (including queer, trans, femme and non-binary) abstract artists of color by providing opportunities, resources, and programming that elevates their work and practice.

Published by Tessera Arts Collective, Abstractions Magazine is a digital & bi-annual print art publication offering in-depth profiles of womxn and non-binary artists of color creating abstract work alongside essays and editorials on abstraction in modern art from curators, collectors, and critics of color.

About the speakers

Melissa Messina is an Independent Curator, Curatorial Advisor, and Curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate. For over 15 years, her exhibitions, site-responsive projects, and public programs have been presented in cultural institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. She was recently the co-curator of “Mildred Thompson, The Atlanta Years, 1986-2003” at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA (2019), and “Mildred Thompson: Against the Grain,” at the New Orleans Museum of Art, LA (2018). In 2017, Messina co-curated “Magnetic Fields, Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today,” an intergenerational exhibition celebrating abstraction by 21 Black female artists – including Mildred Thompson – that toured from Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. She was formerly the Interim Executive Director and Senior Curator of the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; the National Program Director for ArtTable, NY; and a founding staff member and then guest curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Her research on Black female abstract practitioners has been funded by Creative Time | Warhol Foundation, the Stuart A. Rose Library at Emory University, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR.

A’Driane Nieves is an award-winning artist, activist, speaker, U.S. Air Force veteran, and mental-health advocate. Her work focuses on the impact of trauma—inherited, historical, personal—exposing how it shapes, alters, and redefines identity over the course of our lives. Through abstract forms and composition, she gives visible shape to the internal biological and emotional processes of adaptation, recovery, and transformation. She believes that creating and viewing visual art that addresses difficult topics can serve as a catalyst for personal growth & social change. Nieves is the founder of Tessera Arts Collective, a not-for-profit serving women-identifying and non-binary abstract artists of color, empowering them speak their truths and transform the brokenness in their lives, and helping them to celebrate their resiliency and joy. An acclaimed writer and speaker, Nieves' paintings are also on view at public institutions and in private collections in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Nieves lives in New Jersey with her partner, Bert, and their three boys.

Lauren Harris is a fine art management professional, independent curator, and creative director from Atlanta, GA. After earning her BFA in Graphic Design and Art History from Howard University, Lauren quickly immersed herself into New York City’s art landscape, in addition to the growing arts scene in Washington, DC. With an MA in Creative Business Leadership from SCAD, she uses her innovative strategies and progressive ideas to help ignite the arts community and create new avenues for artists. Lauren worked as the Manager and Curator of ZuCot Gallery, a black-owned fine art gallery exhibiting the works of notable Black artists in Atlanta, Georgia. She continues to work with artists and collectors as a manager and consultant. She is gifted in arts marketing and stays on the pulse of art world activity. Lauren currently works with the AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective, a program that prepares undergraduates for careers in the visual arts.

Daricia Mia DeMarr is from Los Angeles, California. She launched her collegiate career at Clark Atlanta University but received a BA in Art History from Georgia State University and master’s degree in Visual Arts Administration from New York University. She is an arts enthusiast, ideas fanatic, curator and visual art consultant. In 2015 she was invited to curate a special exhibition, ‘Respectfully Yours,’ at the Queens Museum, Bulova Center with legendary street artist Lady Pink. Daricia Mia was the assistant director at the NYU Kimmel Center Galleries organizing and curating over 100 exhibits in five years. She was a member of the renowned public art program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and continues to advocate for art in public spaces. Under her consultancy, Pi Arts Projects, Daricia Mia has worked with galleries, dealers and private clients, and has curated exhibits in NYC, Miami and Atlanta. She currently manages Peg Alston Fine Arts gallery and private collection. Daricia Mia has also been Assistant Producer on documentary films and has writing contributions among her experience. As a cross disciplinary person with curious interests in most everything Daricia Mia routinely seeks to create space for critical engagement through art and culture.

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