Jeffrey Gibson · The Guitar in American Art · Contemporary African American Collage ·
Beatrix Potter · Spanish American Art from 1500 to 1800 ·
Otobong Nkanga · Ron Jude · Raqib Shaw

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 31, 2022)—The Frist Art Museum is excited to announce its 2023 schedule of exhibitions. In the Ingram Gallery, the year begins with Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric, a survey of the celebrated Indigenous multidisciplinary artist’s vibrant paintings, sculpture, video, and installations. Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art is the first exhibition to explore the instrument’s symbolism in American art from the early 19th century to the present through 125 works of art and 35 musical instruments. Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage is the first landmark museum exhibition that explores how an intergenerational array of contemporary artists leverages the technique of collage to reflect the breadth and complexity of Black identity.

In the Upper-Level Galleries, the family-friendly Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature traces the creative and ecological achievements of the beloved English author and illustrator. Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500–1800: Highlights from LACMA’s Collection features paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and more created in Mexico and Central and South America during the early modern era.

In the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, the Frist presents Nigerian Belgian artist Otobong Nkanga’s tapestries, drawings, videos, and sculptures that feature narratives of wounding and healing, making metaphorical links between the landscape and the traumatized human body. Ron Jude’s large-scale black-and-white photographs depict natural phenomena in Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Iceland. Raqib Shaw’s alluring paintings fuse influences from Asian and Western traditions to create sumptuously detailed visions of magical environments.

The Frist Art Museum’s 2023 Schedule of Exhibitions

Titles and dates are subject to change.

Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric
February 3–April 23, 2023
Ingram Gallery

This major exhibition is devoted to one of today’s leading artists whose multidisciplinary practice combines aspects of traditional Indigenous art and culture with a modernist visual vocabulary. Born in Colorado in 1972, Jeffrey Gibson is of Cherokee heritage and a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw. His vibrant work, which is represented in more than 20 permanent collections across the United States, is a call for Indigenous empowerment as well as queer visibility and environmental sustainability. The Body Electric is a survey of his recent paintings, sculpture, video, and installations, along with a large site-specific mural THE LAND IS SPEAKING ARE YOU LISTENING. The exhibition’s title is inspired by a song written for the 1980 musical Fame, which drew from Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing the Body Electric” from his 1855 collection, Leaves of Grass. The lyrics reverently acknowledge our place in the natural world, while honoring the universality of endings and beginnings.

Jeffrey Gibson holds a MA at the Royal College of Art in London and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gibson is currently a visiting artist at Bard College in New York. He is represented in the permanent collections of museums, including the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Portland Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Seattle Art Museum, and Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gibson is a 2019 MacArthur Fellow.

Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric is part of the Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art, a program of Tri-Star Arts.

Organized by SITE Santa Fe and curated by Brandee Caoba

Otobong Nkanga: Gently Basking in Debris
February 3–April 23, 2023
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

Nigerian Belgian artist Otobong Nkanga creates tapestries, drawings, videos, sculptures, and performances that feature narratives of wounding and healing, making metaphorical links between the landscape and the traumatized human body. Mapping new paths toward recovery, Nkanga’s work conveys the necessity of acknowledging the violence caused by exploiting natural and human resources if we are to overcome the damaging legacy of extraction under Colonialism and global capitalism. This selection of work is part of the Tennessee Triennial, a statewide series of exhibitions and performances coordinated by consulting curator María Magdalena Campos-Pons that explores the theme of repair and healing, particularly with regards to the Global South and its colonial history.

Nkanga has exhibited in such venues as Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Centre Pompidou, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Moderna Museet, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Tate Modern, Tate St Ives, and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Her work has been included in such group exhibitions as the 58th Venice Biennale, documenta 14, 13th Biennale de Lyon, 31st Bienal de São Paulo, and 8th Berlin Biennale.

Otobong Nkanga: Gently Basking in Debris is part of the Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art, a program of Tri-Star Arts.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature
April 7–September 17, 2023
Upper-Level Galleries

This family-friendly exhibition celebrates the creative and ecological achievements of the beloved English author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. In The Tale of Peter Rabbit, first published in London in 1902, and 22 other children’s books, Potter imagined an enchanting world of animals and gardens. Through personal effects, diaries, letters, photographs, sketches, and watercolors, this exhibition explores the inspirations behind Potter’s stories and characters. Based on scholarship about Potter’s life and work, it shows that her books emerged from her passion for nature and were just one of her major legacies—she engaged in scientific studies, farming, and land conservation as well. Drawn to Nature shows all these facets of Potter’s remarkable life and legacy in vibrant detail.

Created by the V&A – Touring the World

Guitar Town: Picturing Performance Today
April 21–August 20, 2023
Conte Community Arts Gallery

Guitar Town: Picturing Performance Today features work by ten Nashville-based photographers who capture the energy of Nashville’s diverse music scene through images of guitar players performing in venues across the city. Highlighting a variety of musical styles and attitudes, the photographers employ dramatic angles, surprising cropping, and hair-trigger responses as they capture decisive moments in each performance.

The photographers in the exhibition are Angelina Castillo, Lance Conzett, Steve Cross, Emma Delevante, HN James, John Joseph, Laura Partain, John Partipolo, Jenni Starr, and Diana Zadlo. Through their eyes and imaging techniques of musicians including Brandi Carlile, Sierra Ferrell, Brittany Howard, Marty Stuart, William Tyler, Adia Victoria, Jack White, and Yola, viewers see how the performers’ self-presentation—clothing, hair, stance, and facial expressions—provide visual links to the music they are making and bring viewers into the room with the audience to share the visceral experience.

This sense of immediacy is particularly acute in photographs from intimate venues like DRKMTTR, Exit/In, Fond Object, and Mercy Lounge, some of which have closed their doors in recent years, unable to survive Nashville’s rapidly changing real estate environment. Such losses have raised questions about the city’s capacity to remain a haven for small clubs and independent musicians. Despite this, the photographers in this exhibition celebrate a community of musicians that continues to be dynamic, mutually supportive, and ever adaptable. Nashville—Guitar Town—is still the place where music of all types can be heard and enjoyed. The exhibition will be presented in conjunction with Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art, on view in the Ingram Gallery from May 26–August 13, 2023.

Guitar Town: Picturing Performance Today was organized by Frist Art Museum Chief Curator Mark Scala and Curatorial Intern Sydney Stewart.

Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art
May 26–August 13, 2023
Ingram Gallery

Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art is the first exhibition to explore the instrument’s symbolism in American art, from the early 19th century to the present day. Featuring 125 works of art, as well as 35 exceptional instruments, the exhibition will demonstrate that guitars figure prominently in the visual stories Americans tell about themselves. Works by artists such as John Baldessari, Thomas Hart Benton, Lonnie Holley, Dorothea Lange, and Annie Leibovitz and seminal instruments by Fender, Gibson, and C. F. Martin & Company show how guitars have served as symbols of American history, cultural attitudes, identities, and aspirations. For the presentation at the Frist, notable instruments and other artworks drawn from Middle Tennessee collections will be on view, reflecting Nashville’s internationally renowned status as “Music City” and a mecca for outstanding guitarists and socially impactful music.

The works in Storied Strings are divided into themed sections, including Picturing Performance, Guitars and African American Art, The Visual Culture of Early Rock and Roll, and Women in Country Music. Linking these disparate themes is the premise that the guitar, as a visual motif, has long enabled artists and their human subjects to address themes and tell stories that otherwise would go unexamined. The accompanying 300-page catalogue positions the guitar within a nexus of art, music, literature, and cultural histories.

Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art is organized by Dr. Leo Mazow, curator of American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Ron Jude: 12 Hz
May 26–August 13, 2023
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

Ron Jude’s imposing, large-scale black-and-white photographs made in Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Iceland depict the raw materials of the planet and its systems—lava flows, rocks formed from volcanic ash, river and tidal currents, and glacial valleys—that are the foundation of organic life. Stripped bare of the evidence of human existence, they remind us that these natural phenomena operate indifferently to our presence in the face of an imminent ecological crisis. The exhibition’s title references the lowest threshold of human hearing, 12 hertz, suggesting the powerful yet frequently imperceptible forces that shape the physical world and the limits of human perception.

Jude’s photographs have been widely exhibited around the world and are held in the permanent collections of the George Eastman Museum; the J. Paul Getty Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Jude is also the author of twelve books—most recently, 12 Hz (2020). He has received numerous grants and awards, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019. He is a professor of art at the University of Oregon and lives in Eugene.

Ron Jude: 12 Hz was organized by the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment

Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage
September 15–December 31, 2023
Ingram Gallery

The first major museum exhibition devoted to the subject, Multiplicity presents 80 major collage and collage-informed works that reflect the breadth and complexity of Black identity. Featuring an intergenerational group of artists, Multiplicity explores the varying ways collage is employed and how the technique suggests diverse conceptual concerns such as cultural hybridity, notions of beauty, gender fluidity, and historical memory. By assembling pieces of paper, photographs, fabric, and salvaged or repurposed materials, these artists create unified compositions that express the endless possibilities of Black-constructed narratives despite our fragmented society. Artists range from established luminaries to emerging and mid-career figures, including Mark Bradford, Lauren Halsey, Rashid Johnson, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Deborah Roberts, Tschabalala Self, Lorna Simpson, Devan Shimoyama, and Mickalene Thomas. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with scholarly essays and will travel to two yet-to-be announced venues.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West
September 15–December 31, 2023
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

Raqib Shaw grew up in Kashmir, India, immersed in his family’s business of selling jewelry, textiles, and carpets. On a trip to London, he became entranced by old masters’ paintings at the National Gallery. He eventually moved to the city in 1998 to study art and has lived there ever since. Throughout his career, Shaw has created images of magic and mystery, in which references to Western art history are seamlessly combined with ornamental elements derived from the Japanese prints and kimonos, Persian miniatures, and Indian textiles that he vividly remembers from his youth. This exhibition tells stories that take place within hybridized geographies—some evoke childhood memories of a Kashmiri paradise, while others show glistening cities and Boschian landscapes in flames that unnervingly project the crises and disasters facing the world today. In his works, Shaw uses a variety of paints applied with a porcupine quill to depict the precise details of objects from flowers to distant mountains, which are also outlined in embossed gold. Glitter and semiprecious stones further enhance the sublime opulence of the scenes. Shaw’s alluring visual ballads are tinged with the multiple accents of the world, envisioning a place where dichotomies of East and West are subsumed into a realm of imagination and dreams.

Raqib Shaw has exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Tate Britain, and The Whitworth. This exhibition is curated by Zehra Jumabhoy, PhD, an art historian who specializes in the art of South Asia.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500–1800: Highlights from LACMA’s Collection   
October 20, 2023–January 28, 2024
Upper-Level Galleries

This is the first exhibition from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s notable holdings of Spanish American art. Featuring more than 90 works—paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and more—from Mexico and Central and South America, this exhibition emphasizes the creative power of Spanish America. Following the arrival of the Spaniards in the Americas in the late 15th century, the region developed complex artistic traditions that drew on Indigenous, European, Asian, and African art. This exhibition seeks to highlight the interconnectedness of these cultures and ideas in the early modern world. The Spanish conquest of the Philippines in 1565 inaugurated a commercial route that connected Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Private homes and civic and ecclesiastic institutions in Spanish America were filled with imported and locally made objects. Many local objects also traveled across the globe, attesting to their wide appeal. This confluence of riches signaled the status of the Americas as a major emporium—what one author described as “the archive of the world.”

Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Image Credits

1. Installation view of Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric, SITE Santa Fe, 2022. Image courtesy of SITE Santa Fe. Photo: Shayla Blatchford

2. Otto Hagel. Odetta, 1958. Gelatin silver print; 13 9/16 x 10 9/16 in. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, 98.117.66

3. Derek Fordjour. Three Bend Deep, 2019. Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas; 63 x 103 x 2 1/4 in. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York

Supporter Acknowledgment

The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by The Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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