Through a selection of historical imagery paired with art of the present day, guest curator Brigette Janea Jones, a historian, non-profit executive, and speaker, offers a more three-dimensional picture of the Black American experience by focusing on moments of joy despite a history of pain and struggle. The exhibition showcases photographs of enslaved people and their descendants taken throughout the three geographical regions of Tennessee during various periods, including enslavement, Reconstruction, the civil rights era, the crack era, and more.

Jones invites students at Tennessee’s HBCUs and public universities to submit responses to these images with their own interpretations of Black people resisting harm and embarking upon the eternal journey to Black joy. Working with a community jury, Jones will select ten of the students’ works for the exhibition. Black Joy, In Spite Of will show Black Tennesseans having the audacity to be happy amid and in the aftermath of an institution that was designed to break them.

Supported in part by our

O’Keeffe Circle

Presented in part by

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

Exhibition gallery

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