This exhibition offers a three-dimensional picture of the Black American experience by focusing on moments of joy despite a history of pain and struggle. Guest curator Brigette Janea Jones has selected photographs made throughout Tennessee that depict the enslaved and their descendants during various time periods, including enslavement, Reconstruction, the modern civil rights movement, the crack era, and more. The images capture scenes of family connection, friendship, pride, and resistance that highlight the humanity of each individual and counter the more common focus on trauma.

To connect the past with the present day, Jones and two local artists, TC and Joseph Patrick, selected work made by various Tennessee artists, many still college students, that depict their own interpretations of Black people resisting harm and embarking on the eternal journey to Black joy. Seen together, the works in Black Joy, in Spite of . . . show Black Tennesseans having the audacity to be happy amid and in the aftermath of slavery, an institution that was designed to break them.

Curator Brigette Janea Jones talks about the exhibition.

Presenting sponsor

HCA logo

Supported in part by our

Benefactors’ Circle

Supported in part by

Truist Foundation logo

Supported in part by

Ryman Hospitality foundation logo

Presented in part by

Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts logos

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to
the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Exhibition gallery

Events and programs

Family Activity
Sunday, July 21, 2024, 1:00–5:30 p.m.

Frist Arts Fest

Saturday, August 3, 2024, 2:30–4:30 p.m.

The Sweetness of Life Culinary Experience

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