MERIDIAN — The MAX — Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience — will soon feature two exhibitions celebrating Native American culture, particularly in Mississippi, and the Native American community’s right to tell its own story. Both exhibits will be on display May 1- Aug. 8 at The MAX in downtown Meridian. Through “Choctaw Expressions” we learn the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ incredible story of perseverance, resilience and growth. Artifacts include basketry, beadwork, traditional dress and stickball-related objects. The exhibition is just a sampling of what’s on display at the community’s museum, the Chahta Immi Cultural Center near Philadelphia, Mississippi. (The center is open Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit the tribe’s website, Choctaw.org, or call 601-650-1687.)
Stereotypes of Native American peoples are ubiquitous and familiar. The exhibition “Savages and Princesses: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes” brings together 12 contemporary Native American visual artists who reclaim their right to represent their identities. Recognizing that stereotypes often proliferate without conscious awareness, the exhibition explores common notions about Native peoples that are based on falsehoods, and corrects them with legitimate information. The artists use the unexpected — humor, shock or other emotions — to prompt viewers to question and challenge stereotypes, including those that are unspoken or unacknowledged.
“The juxtaposition of these exhibitions allows the visitor to see and understand, in real time, the message that ultimately both exhibitions are trying to convey,” said Stacey Wilson, curator of Exhibitions at The MAX.
“Choctaw Expressions” tells the story of a tribe whose members are our coworkers, neighbors and friends, while “Savages and Princesses: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes” teaches us why the stereotypes placed upon them are untrue, hurtful and harmful to the Native American community as a whole.”
These exhibitions are sponsored by Yates Construction of Philadelphia. “The Yates organization has a long-standing relationship with and a deep admiration of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians,” said Bill Yates, Chairman of Yates Construction. “Yates also has a great appreciation for The MAX and its efforts to recognize the arts in Mississippi. We are truly honored to be the sponsor of this exhibit, which showcases the Choctaw heritage and culture that is such an important part of Mississippi’s history.”
The interactive museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The MAX is located at the corner of Sela Ward Parkway and Front Street. Street parking is available, with shops and restaurants within walking distance.
For more information, visit MSarts.org or call 601-581-1550.