Art exhibit to center on Most Influential Black Americans

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

This weekend, the Hollywood Theater will house an art exhibit by Jammie Niemeyer that functions as an introduction to her year-long project titled “Eye on Growth”. The project is the result of a grant through the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council in Marshall that provided the funds as a part of their Artist Equity Grants made possible by a grant from the McKnight Foundation and by the voters of Minnesota thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Niemeyer’s project focuses on a year’s worth of different shows centering around portraits she is creating in her abstract style portraying various persons she says are most influential to her in a variety of categories. This weekend’s show is the introduction to a larger show in February which will showcase her work portraying Most Influential Black Americans for Black History Month. Other shows will include Most Influential Women, Most Influential Disabled Americans, and Most Influential Indigenous People. The introductory show at the Hollywood will include three stand-out pieces that will be 18x24 portraits of Prince and Michael Jackson, but also the woman who Niemeyer says is most influential to her, Florence Griffith Joyner, otherwise known as Flo-Jo. “She was my idol. I looked up to her so much,” says Niemeyer. The larger Most Influential Black Americans show in February will have a total of 44 original pieces on display. 

“The way that I went about it - it was kind of interesting - especially for the Black Americans portion because I am black but I’ve never been around any of that. I’ve never accepted that as my ancestry,” says Niemeyer. “I don’t know my biological father so the side of my family that I’m with is all white. I’ve never embraced the fact that I’m black and this year has been a growth period. Doing this project has helped me learn about my own ancestry and what people went through.”

Niemeyer says that she chose the subjects for her art display through research - turning to musicians who have influenced other artists, and what kind of work they did outside of the music industry, and exploring activists and what they stood for. For example, Niemeyer did extensive research on well-known poet Maya Angelou. “I didn’t know anything about her and when I started researching, I’m finding out about her past and how she overcame things and became this wonderful poet, and then I listened to her poetry. It’s all about learning about those people and how what they did starts to influence me. That’s why I say my most influential, because it may not be someone that anyone else picks,” Niemeyer said. 

Niemeyer has also been working alongside the Cultural Diversity Council of Upper Minnesota River Valley, where she is also a member, to use her art to show the diversity that there is in America, as well as working with Herbert Perkins of the Anti Racism Study Dialogue Circle (ASDIC). “I plan on continuing this project after if it goes well to be able to branch out in other things and be able to focus on more groups,” Niemeyer says.

During the art exhibit this weekend, Niemeyer will also be introducing her latest medium, wood-burning, with a live demonstration and will have some of her wood-burning artwork for sale during the event, as well as samples of and pre-order forms for two new coloring books to be published soon. Niemeyer has previously published coloring books that were for sale at Java River and the Art Gallery in Granite as the two new ones will be. She has also displayed her artwork in Java River and has a portion of the mural with a large butterfly behind the K.K. Berge building in Granite Falls now permanently on display. “I’ve done art my entire life. I love art - live art actually,” Niemeyer says. “It’s great to be able to get my art seen. My ultimate goal is to actually see my art around the world.”

The exhibit this weekend is open to the public and will be held on Friday, May 28th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, May 29th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.