Visual Arts Senior Puts Education in Action in Community Exhibitions, Festivals

April 5, 2024 | Arts, News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters
By Nicki Gorny

Lydia Myrick dreams of one day running her own art gallery.

But Myrick, a senior majoring in visual arts with an art history minor and art museum practices concentration at The University of Toledo, isn’t one to wait around. Her impressive resume so far identifies her as curator of a pop-up exhibition Beyond the Gallows: A Journey to Abolish Capital Punishment at River House Arts in 2023, organizer of the Heirs of Art Festival in Toledo in 2022 and 2023 and co-curator of a digital exhibition Out of the Dark: A Historic Journey at the Toledo Museum of Art in 2021.

Lydia Myrick, a visual arts seniorShe and her classmates are now preparing to stage an exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art opening in Gallery 6 on Saturday, April 6. “Generational Echoes: Power, Privilege, and the Transmission of Knowledge” is curated using works from the museum’s permanent collection, a process the students undertook in consecutive art history classes that began in the fall and a studio course this semester.

“I’m excited to share it with everyone,” Myrick said. “It’s been so cool to check out these archived works this year, and I think what we’ve chosen will resonate with a wide range of audiences.”

The courses that are culminating in the exhibition are two of three required for her degree concentration art museum practices, which places equal emphasis on the discipline of art history and its practical applications in arts institutions such as museums, galleries and auction houses. The coursework challenges students to conceive of and curate an exhibition under the direction of museum staff and Dr. Thor Mednick, a professor in the Department of Art at UToledo.

An internship is another requirement of the art museum practices concentration. Mednick has arranged professional experiences for students around the world, including in Seattle and Poznań, Poland. Myrick has been acting as executive assistant for an ongoing collaboration between Mednick and a colleague at the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga, who are developing an exhibition in which artists from the Virgin Islands create new works responding to the colonial history of the Islands.

“Lydia’s work ethic is tireless, and her energy is boundless,” Mednick said. “She is driven by a profound sense of social and cultural responsibility, and there is no question that she has the means to live up to those demands. She is destined to be a transformative figure for her field, and it is a singular privilege to work with her.”

Myrick has long expressed herself through the arts, and as a teenager she explored interests in fashion design, dance and music at the Toledo School for the Arts. When she followed the scholarship incentive program Toledo Excel to UToledo in 2020, she found her home in the Center for Visual Arts, the Frank O. Gehry-designed facility that’s adjacent to the Toledo Museum of Art.

“I love taking classes here,” Myrick said. “There’s such a community. I’ve developed relationships with the students and the staff and professors. Everyone is super cool, and the campus is really pretty.”

Myrick’s commitments outside of her courses speak to her belief in the power of art as a tool for activism. She’s a founding member and current secretary of the Toledo Black Artist Coalition, which came together in 2020. Its vision is to provide resources and education in the community “while holding entities accountable to representation, transparency, and equity.”

The coalition has organized numerous exhibitions and events since 2020, including the digital exhibition Out of the Dark: A Historic Journey at the Toledo Museum of Art in 2021.

Myrick herself organized the Heirs of Art Festival in 2022 and 2023, “showcasing only Black art, Black businesses and Black culture,” she said. Instead of a third iteration in 2024, Myrick is organizing an anti-violence art festival, TVF: Uniting Against Violence, in June.

And she curated Beyond the Gallows: A Journey to Abolish Capital Punishment as an intern with Ohioans to Stop Executions in 2023.

“We showcased art from a wide variety of sources, including an inmate who is currently on death row in Ohio,” she said. “I got to meet a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life, and I learned that many people are still uneducated about the death penalty. So it was really cool to share information by curating a gallery at the River House Arts.”

She’s looking forward to her next endeavor in “Generational Echoes” beginning Saturday.

Then she plans to continue her education with a master’s in art history, with that art gallery of her own still in her sights.



Click to access the login or register cheese