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CONNECTING CULTURES: CHILDREN’S STORIES FROM ACROSS THE WORLD
OPENS AT FRIST CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS APRIL 15, 2011
Exhibition Part of Yearlong Celebration of Nashville’s Growing Ethnic Communities
NASHVILLE, TENN.—(March 1, 2011)— The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has partnered with ten local and regional community organizations to present Connecting Cultures: Children’s Stories from Across the World, an exhibition inspired by children’s stories that is designed to reflect the unique cultural values of each participating community. Connecting Cultures will be on view in the Conte Community Arts Gallery April 15, 2011, through March 27, 2012. The exhibition kicks off a celebration of Nashville’s diverse ethnic communities that will include related monthly programs throughout the year. The Presenting Sponsor for Connecting Cultures is the Nissan Foundation.
The Frist Center’s outreach educators, Shaun Giles and Rosemary Swain, with the help of members of the Connecting Cultures Advisory Committee, approached specific community groups to be a part of Connecting Cultures. The artwork presented in the exhibition was created by intergenerational groups composed of more than 200 participants who speak a wide range of languages, have diverse artistic abilities, and altogether attended more than 60 workshops, enabling them to exhibit art of the world and represent Nashville’s growing ethnic communities. The exhibition seeks to build bridges between the Frist Center and local organizations representing Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, and Middle Easterners, as well as grass roots community members and trained visual artists.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Frist Center will also present Artful Tales, a monthly interactive family program that combines the oral tradition of storytelling with hands-on art-making activities to explore stories and cultures from around the world.
Ten local artists assisted Giles and Swain in leading workshops for the community groups during a four-month period. With the guidance of the lead artists Roger Clayton (Japanese group), Buist Hardison (Chinese group), Sandy Mueller (Indian group), Jairo Prado and Nichole Harrod (Latino/Hispanic group), Abdulkadir Gure (Somali group), Samuel Dunson (Sudanese group), Alicia Henry (Central African group), Jace Freeman (Haitian group) and Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton (Kurdish group), participants developed skills relating to composition, visual storytelling and various visual art techniques.
Participating community groups include Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville, Conexión Américas, Kurdish American Youth Organization, Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Kala Nivedanam School of South Indian Dance and Music, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Japanese Community Group and YMCA Latino Achievers and Tennessee Haitian Voice. Each group worked with an artist to create a specific work for the exhibition that illustrates a children’s story.
“We are committed to celebrating and embracing diverse cultural heritages as a means to promote respect for others, generate alternative ways of thinking, strengthen self-awareness and enrich communities. We are proud to sponsor such a significant exhibition for our community,” said Stephanie Valdez-Streaty, executive director of the Nissan Foundation, the presenting sponsor of the exhibition.
Stories are told through many different media: the spoken word, the written word, theater, dance, music and visual means. The artwork for the exhibition is no different. Works were created using a wide range of media including acrylic paints, collage, cardboard and photomontage.
“Storytelling is such a primal urge that it transcends genre and is as basic to human beings as toolmaking and language usage,” says Anne Henderson, Frist Center Director of Education and Outreach. “The Frist Center is so grateful for the energy, talent, skills and enthusiasm that went into this exciting collaboration and the creation of these insightful works of art.”
Led by artist Samuel Dunson, and inspired by the lifestyle of the Kuku tribe, “My Father’s Home” tells the story of the Kuku tribe in the southeastern region of Southern Sudan. The piece by the Nashville International Center for Empowerment was created strictly from the participants’ memories of Sudan and is an example of the importance of an oral story handed down by word of mouth.
Other children’s stories represented in the exhibition include a story about the Kurdish blacksmith Kawa, two star-crossed lovers in “The Lovers,” the Chinese
legends “The Legend of the Moon Goddess” and “The Legend of the Dragon Boat Race,” “Many Hands Make a Lighter Load,” “Momotaro the Peach Boy,” “Never Rush to Judgment” (a traditional Indian story about a mongoose and a snake), “The Woman Who Outshone the Sun,” “The Camel and the Fox,” and “Tale of the Great Lakes of Central Africa.”
As an extension of this exhibition, Giles and Swain will lead a series of free activities which explore different cultures and will include historical information accompanied by a hands-on activity. Kicking off on March 5 at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, these guided activities will take place at various sites in the city on the first Saturday of each month and will be open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Artful Tales will also run each month from May 2011 through March 2012 with the exception of December and each free activity will feature a different story from around the world. The free program will take place on the third Sunday of each month from 2:00–4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Frist Center and will be led by trained art educators and professional storytellers.
“It is our hope that the flow of creativity that generated this cohesive exhibition will give voice to Nashville’s growing and diverse population paired with the strong belief that, through the art, we truly can look at our world in new ways,” Henderson concludes.
Saturday, March 5 MangaTime!
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Scarritt-Bennett Center, Studio 19
As an extension of Connecting Cultures: Children’s Stories from across the World, Frist Center outreach educators, Shaun Giles and Rosemary Swain, will lead an activity in the community. The lesson will include historical information accompanied by a hands-on activity.
Saturday, April 2 RANGOLI!
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
As an extension of Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior, Frist Center outreach educators, Shaun Giles and Rosemary Swain, will lead an activity in the community. The lesson will include historical information accompanied by a hands-on activity.
Saturday, May 7 Tales from Latin America
Coleman Park Community Center
As an extension of Connecting Cultures: Children’s Stories from across the World, Frist Center
outreach educators, Shaun Giles and Rosemary Swain, will lead an activity in the community. Participants will learn about a traditional Latin American folk tale accompanied by a hands-on activity inspired by the story.
Sunday, May 15 Artful Tales: “The Woman Who Outshone the Sun”
2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Frist Center presents Artful Tales, a monthly interactive family program that combines the oral tradition of storytelling with hands on art-making activities to explore stories and cultures from around the world. Enjoy the lively retelling of the Latin American story “The Woman Who Outshone the Sun”, and create vibrant yarn paintings inspired by Mexican artists and the colors of Latin America.
Thursday, June 16 Artist’s Forum featuring Samuel Dunson
Artist’s Forum is a program in which Nashville-based and regional emerging and recognized artists discuss the thoughts and processes behind their work. Participants are encouraged to come and be part of the dialogue about the artistic process.
This month’s Artist’s Forum has invited Samuel Dunson, assistant professor of art at Tennessee State University, to speak about his artistic processes and concepts, as well as his experience working with the Frist Center’s community outreach team and a group from the Nashville International Center for Empowerment on the exhibition Connecting Cultures: Children’s Stories from Across the World.
Born in Ohio, Dunson graduated with a BA in Studio Art from Tennessee State University in Nashville before completing his MFA in Painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia, where, in 1999, he was awarded the Presidential Fellowship. Since graduation, Dunson
has been an assistant lecturer at the Savannah School of Art and Design and is now an Assistant Professor of Art at Tennessee State University. He has participated in various solo and group
shows in Nashville and Savannah, and was recently commissioned to design the cover
illustration for the book Over the Bridge. Dunson’s work is primarily concerned with the concept of expression and communication; in this light his figurative yet stylized manner allows him to step outside reality while maintaining it in his figures.
Sunday, June 19 Artful Tales: “Many Hands Make a Lighter Load”
2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Frist Center presents Artful Tales, a monthly interactive family program that combines the oral tradition of storytelling with hands on art-making activities to explore stories and cultures from around the world. Construct “artistic” musical instruments and use them to join our interactive retelling of the Haitian folktale “Many Hands Make a Lighter Load”.
Presenting Sponsor: The Nissan Foundation
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts outreach program is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission.
The Frist Center thanks the Connecting Cultures Advisory Committee members:
Sydney Rogers, Executive Director, Alignment Nashville; Angela Harris, ESL/TESL Director, TN Foreign Language Institute; Julie Horn, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, and Media, Tennessee Art Commission; Kim Johnson, Director of Educational Enrichment Programs, Scarritt-Bennett Center; Eulonda Ford, Coordinator of Family and Community Services, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools; Candy Markman, Director, Mayor’s Afterschool Initiatives; Jennifer Escue, Youth Services Coordinator Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of Tennessee; Elyse Adler, Research & Special Projects Administrator, Nashville Public Library; Ellen Gilbert, Director, Global Education Center; Amy McDaniel, Giving Matters.com Director, Community Foundation; Rebecca Howerton Finlay, Communications Director, Community Foundation and Dr. Dana Everts-Boehm, Folklife Program Assistant, Tennessee Arts Commission
About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5–9 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247.The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting http://www.fristcenter.org.