Chapman collection on display at art museum

Mar. 19—Beginning Saturday, the Meridian Museum of Art, in conjunction with the Allie Cat Run and Festival and National Donate Life Month in April, will host an exhibition, titled "The Sadie Paintings," by artist Gary Chapman, whose collection of paintings memorialize the too-brief life of his daughter, an organ recipient.

The opening reception for Chapman's exhibit will be held Saturday, March 23, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the art museum in downtown Meridian. The public is invited to attend the event, which is free.

Chapman will be the guest speaker for an earlier ceremony, set to begin around 10:30-11 a.m. in front of city hall, as part of Allie Cat Run and Festival activities.

The art museum is hosting Chapman's work in an effort to bring more awareness to organ, eye and tissue donation with April kicking off Donate Life Month. The exhibit will run through May 18.

Chapman is a professor of painting and drawing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Berea College. He boasts an impressive portfolio featuring more than 80 solo exhibitions at renowned institutions, such as the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts; the Arts Center of St. Petersburg, Florida; the University of Cincinnati; the University of Georgia; and the Indianapolis Art Center. Additionally, he has actively participated in numerous group and invitational exhibitions at regional, national and international venues.

The family of an organ recipient, the Chapmans' daughter, Sadie, was born with a serious congenital heart defect, diagnosed as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which basically means the left ventricle of her heart was not formed correctly. She had two open heart surgeries as a child and a heart transplant at age 19. Her new heart failed seven years later, and Sadie Chapman died in March 2023 at the age of 26.

After Sadie's death, Chapman began posting paintings of his daughter on social media, which garnered widespread response from people touched by her father's work. The tribute to Sadie turned into an exhibition that is a testament to her life, essence and resilience.

In 2013, Chapman was honored as a Joan Mitchell CALL Legacy Artist. He has garnered various grants and fellowships, including the prestigious 1996 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting from the Southern Arts Federation. His artistic endeavors have been recognized with 2002 and 1994 Individual Artist Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Chapman's work has been extensively reviewed and is featured in more than 20 catalogs and books, including all four editions of "New American Paintings."

Located at 628 25th Avenue, the Meridian Museum of Art is open 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

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