Photo Credits: Behind the scenes photo of Patrick Kelly, Patrick Kelly Archive, Sc MG 631, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. Cross Colours Ad with TJ Walker and Carl Jones, ca 1992, courtesy of the Cross Colours Archives.
From Couture to da’ Streets: The Fashions of Patrick Kelly + Cross Colours
September 4, 2021-January 8, 2022
Paris, London, Milan, New York, and Mississippi – famed sources of fashion design. Yes, Mississippi warrants recognition, as two of America’s most influential fashion designers are from the state. The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience honors designers Patrick Kelly and Thomas “TJ” Walker in the exhibition which features clothing, sketches, and related ephemera.
"While Kelly worked to destigmatize racist iconography, Walker worked to uplift the black community through positive messages. In tandem, both men changed the world, and that’s why people should come see this exhibition,” said Stacey Wilson, Curator of Exhibitions at The MAX. “They inspire and encourage others to make their own mark on the world.” Today, both designers are seeing a resurgence in popularity because the message behind the clothing resonates with many in the current racial and political atmosphere.
To assemble this unique exhibition, Wilson borrowed artifacts and other materials from Jackson State University, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles-based Cross Colours enterprise. A robust schedule of programs will support the exhibit, as The MAX engages diverse audiences.
"Patrick Kelly has a witty way with fashion.” –The Washington Post, 1988
“Through their bold designs and graphics, Walker and Jones originally set out to craft positive messaging around African American culture and oppression.” –Vogue, 2019.
Admission to the From Couture to da’ Streets: The Fashions of Patrick Kelly + Cross Colours exhibition is free. To view the entire museum, visitors are required to pay regular museum admission prices.
Photo by Michael Segal
Exhibition Related Programming
Make + Take: Street Art Name Design
September 4, 2021, 10 am-noon
As part of The MAX experience, youth and families engage with The MAX exhibit themes through these 30-minute creative workshops. The September First Saturday theme is “Street Art Name Design.” Stop by anytime between 10 am-noon. Workshops are designed and led by a licensed educator. Free with museum admission. Registration recommended. Register Here
Dance at The MAX: Hip-Hop Fundamentals
September 4, 2021; 1-2 pm
In 1970s New York, African and Latino American communities created Hip-Hop as a safe alternative to violence and drugs. Since then, it has morphed into a cultural movement that has made a lasting impact on the world. Hip-Hop is a versatile dance that encourages freestyle moves and is fun for all ages. So come, wear comfortable shoes and baggy clothes, and let’s dance! Registration recommended. Free with museum admission. Register Here
Movies at The MAX: Fresh Dressed
October 1, 2021, 7-9 pm
The origins of urban fashion may have started in New York, but the desire to look “good” or ”fresh” goes back even further. Fresh Dressed chronicles the rise of hip-hop and urban fashion, but also the rappers, singers, and whole communities that acted as both the influencers and the influencees. Features Cross Colours, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Nas, Damon Dash, Andre Leon Talley, Marc Ecko, Kid ‘N Play, and more. Not rated, documentary. 1 hr 30 mins. Registration required. Free and open to the public. Register Here
Street Art: Manhole Cover Printing Workshop with Cary Haycox
October 2, 2021; 10:30 am-noon
Discover the beauty of Meridian’s urban landscape. Cary Haycox, artist and teacher at Meridian High School, will teach students how to create unique prints featuring downtown Meridian’s manhole covers. Limited capacity. Registration required. Free with museum admission. Register Here
Speak yo Mind: T-Shirt Design with TJ Walker, CXC cofounder
October 2, 2021; 1-3 pm
The Cross Colours Clothing Brand is built on the slogan “Clothing Without Prejudice.” Learn how to translate a message into wearable art. TJ Walker, CXC co-founder, will lead a t-shirt workshop based on themes promoted by the Cross Colours brand, or participants can use their own themes in fashioning a statement shirt. Have an open mind and be ready to create! Supplies included. Limited capacity. Registration required. Free with museum admission. Register Here
Dance at The MAX: Hip-Hop Choreography
October 5, 12, 19, 26, 2021; 6-7 pm
Hip-Hop is a versatile dance that encourages freestyle moves and is fun for all ages. In this four-week class, you will learn choreography and perform at the Walk dat Walk: Fashion Show at The MAX on November 6, 2021. Registration required. Limited capacity. $15 Members | $20 Non-members Register Here
MAXEats: Cross Colours Dinner with Chef Enrika Williams
November 5, 2021; 6-8 pm
Chef Enrika Williams creates a sit-down dinner inspired by the fashions of Cross Colours. Registration required. $35 for Members, $40 for non-Members.
Illustrated Talk: Origins of Black Fashion in Church with Stacey Wilson
November 6, 2021, 11 am-noon
Growing up, there was one event we consistently dressed up for and that was church on Sunday morning. But that idea spilled over into our everyday lives as well—we had to look good every time we left the house. Why? Was it only for religious reasons or something more? Join Curator Stacey Wilson as she discusses the origins of black fashion in church. Limited capacity. Registration recommended. Free with museum admission. Reserve a Seat
Walk dat Walk: Fashion Show at The MAX,
November 6, 2021, 7-9 pm
Not just a fashion show, but a curated Couture-Hip Hop experience. Come enjoy a night of Hip-Hop dance performances and view the newest collections by Cross Colors modeled by people from the community. Email Stacey@msarts.org for information regarding model casting calls.
Jugline by Ke Francis
July 27 1, 2021-November 6, 2021
Narrative art is more than visual storytelling to Ke Francis. He uses it to connect people of all ages, races, and cultures. A special exhibition titled Jugline will feature Francis’ story of The Walking Catfish, as well as lithographs, large woodcuts, book art, and block printing materials.
“It seems that whenever a visual artist exhibits work the audience asks them to explain it. That quickly steals the magic because one of the great aspects of visual art is that it can mean different things to different people. Once I understood what the audience really wanted, I quit talking about the art and started telling stories that paralleled the work. After a few exhibits, I realized I was accumulating short stories and I decided to print them as thin volumes. That was the start of book publishing at Hoopsnake Press in Tupelo in 1992,” said Ke Francis.
Just like narrative art taught later generations how cavemen gathered food, Francis’ The Walking Catfish teaches us that humans are more alike and more amicable than we think. Francis’ twist on this old southern folktale is the story of a boy who befriended a catfish that amazingly, can walk. The catfish becomes a pet and friend, only to come to his own demise in the end.
“This exhibition is great because it touches upon artforms many kids don’t think about as careers-illustration and block printing. I also love what Francis has created through visual storytelling. Jugline creates an experience rooted in art that teaches us we are all connected and can relate to one another. After all, everyone has lost someone,” says Stacey Wilson, Curator of Exhibitions at The MAX.
The exhibit is free with museum admission.