One need only say “Maizelle.”
For many in the arts community of Hampton Roads, her last name is a complete mystery--one that the artist herself allows to remain unsolved.
By her distinctive moniker, she is known and a force to be reckoned with. Since the 1970’s she has been a renowned and award-winning artist, a presidentially-commended community and cultural activist, gallery owner, art therapist, founding member of the Norfolk Arts Commission, curator, mother, leader, and for many an African-American Artist - the central advocate and advisor to the region’s cultural arts scene.
Now, Norfolk Academy is honored to hold an exhibit of Maizelle’s work, “Yearning for the Motherland,” in the Perrel Gallery at the John H. Tucker Jr. Arts Center. The exhibit begins with an opening reception on Saturday, March 17, 4-6 p.m. and will continue through April.
Maizelle’s work is widely awarded and has established itself in the permanent collections of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, the Attucks Theatre, and the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. In activists’ circles, the name Maizelle will conjure a 1972 recognition by President Richard Nixon, pioneering national and regional leadership on tenants rights and fair housing, the keys to the City of Portsmouth, and a 2012 recognition by U.S. Senator Mark Warner.
Perhaps more than anything else, the name Maizelle brings to mind a woman whose front door, whether it be to her home, her gallery, or a figurative front door to an impromptu encounter, is always open to helping and inspiring the dreams of the emerging and established artists of Hampton Roads.
Yearning is an exhibition where Maizelle reveals to us one of her dearest dreams: to visit Africa, the motherland. This dream has always been in her work – in the colors she chooses, in the patterns she makes, in the stories she tells. In this way Maizelle has always dreamt of the motherland, no matter the subject, and she has always taken us, the viewer, with her. In a large group of paintings and textiles, some brought back from private collections, Yearning is an exhibition of new and old work that promises to bring out the yearning for the motherland in all of us.
With this exhibition Norfolk Academy celebrates the life and contributions of one of the founding members of the Hampton Roads arts community. We are pleased to be a part of Maizelle’s lifelong work of making our world a better and more beautiful place.