During MLK Weekend 2012 A.A.C. had the opportunity to visit the Visions of MLK celebration at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, GA. The event was coordinated by Montu Miller of Athens,GA and the line-up featured an amazing line-up of gospel singers, hip-hop artists, dancers, and poets.

A.A.C. made the trip to Athens because one of Paul Ayo’s poems is being featured in the Visions of MLK Art Exhibit. The work is titled “Melanin in the Sun and the graphic design was handled by Natalie Sharp. We were proud that one of our pieces made it into the exhibit.

Artist Statements

The visual arts piece “Melanin in the Sun” is a collaboration between my colleague Paul Ayo and me—he wrote the poem contained therein, and I created the image. I wanted to evoke in viewers some of the same emotions that I’ve felt watching him perform the piece—hope, a sense of urgency, and most importantly, a desire for social change. I employ the visual idea of the mountain as an allusion not only to some of Dr. King’s own imagery, but also to suggest that humans of all walks of life can surmount adversity with an arsenal of words, of knowledge, of determination to never “choose sleep over action.”

-Natalie Sharp

When I work with poetry I am reminded that the remarkable parts of our lives manifest in moments that desire to pass unnoticed. Oftentimes, we easily forget the importance of our skin or the air, but if someone takes a moment to emphasize what we take for granted, we find glory in the mundane and obscure. I wrote “Melanin in the Sun” at a time when I was reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” I mixed the poem with a little Hughes, Hansbury, and Hip-Hop and arrived at a crossroads, a challenge.

-Paul Ayo

During the event children and adults were encouraged to work on a collaborative arts piece where each individual designed a single letter of the words community, service, and peace. After all the letters were designed the words were displayed as the backdrop for the performers. This project really spoke to us, and we hope to host a similar collaborative project in the future. You can take a look at the video below to get a full explanation.

The finished product.

There was good energy and great vibes at the event, and we hope to visit Athens in the future. Keep Shuttin’ it Down in your Communities