M3: MCs Mics, & Metaphors

Ra | 8/19/2009, 1:17 p.m.

As a hip-hop enthusiast, artist and educator, Tewodross Melchishua was drawn to art and hip-hop culture. As a result, he has curated an exhibit to explore the connection.

€What we wanted to do with this exhibition is to take a verse or song and visualize it, but at the same time also create a dialogue. I call it the visual cypher, just like a cypher of emcees that are in a circle,€ Melchishua, 39, said.

Melchishua assembled 16 artists in mediums ranging from animation and fashion design to video and mixed media, who were tasked with exploring the concept of the lyrics, metaphors or similes used in hip-hop, and reflecting a favorite emcee or song. The result is €M3: MCs, Mics and Metaphors€ being shown at the Gallery at Flashpoint in Northwest until Sat., Aug. 29

Yet, Melchishua said he was not satisfied with just the exhibit's creation. As a professor at Bowie State University, Melchishua said he is keenly aware of a divide between the older and younger members of the hip-hop community.

€I wanted to have a conversation or dialogue amongst the artists, amongst the works and then with the audience. We planned not only the exhibition, but a few artists€ talks as community events, with the adults in the community [and] some of the young people,€ Melchishua said.

To further explore the relationship between art and hip-hop, Melchishua asked emcees to rhyme about pieces of art in the exhibition during an artists€ talk. Labtekwon, a hip-hop artist from Baltimore, Md., performed in response to one of the pieces in the showing.

€I think ultimately the best part is that there was some youth there, there were kids there that were under 12 and 13,€ he said.

€The seeds that are planted in their mind just bearing witness to emcees performing and also having exposure to a gallery, looking at art and then seeing the context and connection between the culture of the hip-hop being five elements with visual art being one of the elements; to me I think that€s the biggest aspect.€

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Ashton Wingate said he is especially appreciative of the arts and hip-hop community within the District.

€I like a lot of the events in D.C. that collaborate all kinds of the arts, not just painting or mixed media or the spoken word,€ Wingate, 24, said.

€Anytime you can bring both together, I think its best, especially in a space like this that is known for showcasing really forward thinking work.€