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Curator Michael Rooks on Highlighting Atlanta Artists’ Perspectives on Immigration and Identity

By Eva Berlin, High Museum of Art, Digital Content Specialist
Video by Ashley Bartholomew, High Museum of Art, Media Production Specialist

In the High Museum of Art’s newest Curator Close-Up video, you’ll meet Michael Rooks, the Museum’s Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Hear from Rooks as he discusses his work with Atlanta artists over the years and his current exhibition at the High— Of Origins and Belonging, Drawn from Atlanta (on view through September 29, 2019).
Of Origins is the third in a series of exhibitions at the High focused on work by Atlanta-based artists. The series began in 2013 with Drawing Inside the Perimeter, featuring all Atlanta-based artists, and continued in 2015 with Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines, highlighting artists from around the metro area and other Georgia cities.
Of Origins features six Atlanta-based artists who address issues related to place, belonging, and heritage in their work: Jessica Caldas, Yehimi Cambrón, Xie Caomin, Wihro Kim, Dianna Settles and Cosmo Whyte.
Compelled by the national debate and dialogue around immigration reform, this iteration of the High’s Atlanta drawings project features artists whose distinct voices, diverse perspectives, and personal experiences represent worldviews informed and enriched by their cultural heritage and the bond they share as members of a diverse creative community in Atlanta.
With the exhibition, Rooks hopes “to shed light on how artists’ work is a mode of exchange, mirroring the transnational exchange of people, ideas and values that is at the heart of American immigration and that is so vital to our city.”

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