Meika Fields is a graduate student at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. She has a background in art, community design, landscape and architecture. Keeping that in mind, it's no surprise she's also the mastermind behind Dialect Gallery's newest exhibition titled Gentrify Me. The exhibition, which is a group art show featuring 11 artists (including Antoine Williams, Creative Loafing photographer Jasiatic and more), is aimed at presenting a variety of artists' perspectives on urban decay and neighborhood redevelopment. It continues through April 30. For details, call 704-763-0506 or 704-488-6811. You may also visit www.dialectdesign.com or Fields' Web site at www.meikafields.com.
Creative Loafing: What is the main purpose of the art exhibition Gentrify Me?
Meika Fields: It's a show about artists' perspectives on community decay, change and education. But what the show is really about is getting a group of art activists together to talk about some of their concerns and responses to development and changes they are seeing in their communities. So that was the idea, to kind of bring artists to the forefront of discussion about development. A lot of the artists have specific relationships to NoDa, and the art show is going to be in NoDa at Dialect Gallery. But other artists are from Davidson, for example, and have very strong reactions to development there.
Can you tell me a little bit about your piece of art called "The Roofless"?
For my pieces, I was really interested in aesthetics of decay and change. I tend to really like texture and I tend to be drawn to thinking about urban flight and things like that. So a lot of my pieces have to do with decay and change of sacred places. "The Roofless" painting started off from an image I took of a roofless building. It's a building owned by Area 15 at Parkwood Street and Pegram Street, and it's a mural building without a roof. The building is for sale and redevelopment, and I kind of just wanted to react to that kind of change that's occurring there. So, that's why I painted that image, kind of an iconic image of that door. If someone knows that building, they'll recognize that it's the roofless building. I have some other paintings in the show that are taken from looking around Charlotte and the NoDa area, the old Johnson Mills and downtown. A lot of the images may be recognizable to people, but they'll be kind of in this aesthetic of decay change and construction.
How did you come up with the idea for this exhibition?
I'm a Masters student in landscape and architecture right now at Clemson University, and I'm doing my final project on planning and design in arts districts. I'm reading and writing a lot about it and how some cities choose to leave these areas alone, because they tend to realize that increased development can really rapidly change the culture. In talking about it with artists and friends, it seemed like a great idea to have an art show related to what people's perspectives are of these changes. Artists are a mix of that change. They are frequently community builders, and I think artists are truly like community change agents.
What are you hoping will mainly come out of this whole exhibition?
I hope that all different types of people come out to the show, including people that are interested in community, planning, design and development. Some of the work is very political. I hope for open-minded conversations and friendly connections to be built.