Artist, fashion designer to host gallery Saturday at Stillman Art Walk

A Black female artist poses next to artwork
College will also unveil Dr. Cynthia Warrick Art Gallery

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Atlanta-based creative Melissa Mitchell is the featured artist for the 6th annual MLK Legacy Art Walk at Stillman College.

The Art Walk will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the multi-purpose facility located next to the Hay College Center, where Mitchell will display both traditional art and wearables inspired by Black history and her Bahamian heritage. Additionally, Mitchell will have selected works of art for sale.

The MLK Legacy Art Walk, created to showcase artwork that reflects Black history and culture and works created by Black artists, is open and free to the public.

Mitchell’s vibrant and colorful style hallmark both her traditional art pieces, such as canvases and murals, and women’s fashion designs, which include casual, athletic and swim wear.

Mitchell’s art features and partnerships include global deals with Spanx and Foot Locker, as well as ESSENCE Magazine, Black Enterprise, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Huffington Post, Peloton, Cadillac, Microsoft, Pepsi, CNN, The Home Depot, MARTA, and more.

Mitchell’s business acumen has accelerated her learning curve for monetizing her work; Mitchell first picked up a paint brush just 9 years ago and has since combined her career experiences in marketing and IT with an enterprising foundation laid by her parents to become an “anomaly to most artists and businesswomen.”

“I don’t subscribe to artist definitions,” she said. “I’m a businesswoman who is a creative, and I want to be around people who are business-minded.”

Mitchell said her father’s death in 2010 inspired her first works of art but also made her take inventory into her own life and happiness.

“When my father passed, I thought, ‘there has to be more to life than go to work, get married, and have kids,’” she said. “My inspiration would come from healing and finding a non-verbal way to express my emotions. Art became my platform – a silent investor to find the new life I was searching for.”

In addition to her Bahamian heritage, Mitchell says a primary source of inspiration for her art is the book “They Came Before Columbus,” by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, who chronicles African exploration and cultural influences in the Americas as far back as the 1300s. Mitchell said Van Sertima’s philosophy of how Africans’ strength and might influenced the Aztecs inspired her media to “transition from abstract art to my interpretation of what [Aztec] faces looked like in color.”

“For about the past four or five years, I keep finding these faces in my imagination,” Mitchell said. “From there, I started to channel history a bit deeper: I found a list of names of slaves who were lost at sea and began naming each of my pieces to honor ancestors.”

Stillman to hold ribbon-cutting for Warrick Gallery

Prior to the start of the MLK Legacy Art Walk, Stillman will unveil the Dr. Cynthia Warrick Art Gallery in the multi-purpose building next to the Hay College Center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Warrick Gallery will be held at 11 a.m. at the multi-purpose building, just prior to the Art Walk. Light refreshments will be served during the ceremony.

The Warrick Gallery will hold nine works of art, including four pieces by Frank Kelly, Jr.; single pieces by Frank Frazier and William T. Williams; and more.