Headshot of Susan Edwards

Fall 2021

Welcome to the Frist Art Museum online.

Kara Walker (b. 1969) is one of the leading artists of her generation, in part because of her prodigious talent in several mediums, but especially because she upends propriety with images of exaggerated stereotypes that address slavery, racism, exploitation, gender, and sexual and physical abuse. She is best known for her groundbreaking large-scale tableaux silhouettes made using the cut-paper craft popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her hard-hitting depictions of unspeakable subjects, stingingly original in 1994 when she burst onto the art scene, resonate intensely now in the context of international calls for racial reckoning exacerbated in the summer of 2020 after the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor and the reassessment of national monuments.

Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is the first solo exhibition of Walker’s work at the Frist. Members and visitors of long standing may recall having seen her work Camptown Ladies in the 2013 exhibition 30 Americans.

Many painters, printmakers, photographers, writers, and filmmakers have critiqued the power structures behind the socioeconomic and political conditions of class, and Walker acknowledges precursors Otto Dix, James Ensor, Francisco Goya, Georg Grosz, and Käthe Kollwitz, among others. Her point of departure is grounded in her examination of herself as a woman artist and specifically the circumstances of being a Black woman artist, which aligns her more closely with the photographer Carrie Mae Weems (whose work was seen at the Frist in 2012–13 in an exhibition organized by curator Katie Delmez), as well as Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, and male artist Robert Colescott.

Walker weaves fact and fiction into biting indictments of plantation life and its legacy. The imagery is candid, disturbing, even shocking because the past and the national shame that Walker depicts is ugly. Whether you are seeing Walker’s work for the first time or you have seen and studied it for decades, it is difficult, painful, uncomfortable, and at times overwhelming.

Poet and exhibition co-curator Ciona Rouse created original poems in response to some of the artwork on display. Poems are recited in English and Spanish on the exhibition audio guide or via QR codes when you visit the exhibition in person. The audio guide also features a conversation between Ms. Rouse and interpretation director Meagan Rust, who discuss various works and invite us to consider our own responses to this provocative art.

In preparation for the presentation of Walker’s art, the Frist Art Museum convened an advisory group made up of academics, artists, community leaders, theologians, and writers to assist with planning and preparations. We are the grateful beneficiaries of their wisdom, insight, and counsel. The group met periodically over the past year. It was an invaluable opportunity to listen. Their advice and thoughtful participation were essential in formulating a sensitive and empathetic design and installation. Although collaboration is a hallmark of Nashville’s creative culture, it has never been more prescient than now to engage in brave conversations and to listen with open minds and hearts.

Kara Walker mines history, literature, mythology, art, culture, and personal experience for evidence of trauma and underlying, unrelenting, and unresolved pain. With each work of art, she unearths human complacency and complicity with no pity, patience, or sentimentality. She provokes self-examination and holds us accountable. It is often hard to look carefully at Walker’s work because of how deeply she cuts through our scarification to hit festering social wounds. Best known for the stark use of black on white, and the reverse, there is nothing about her art that is resolved in a literal sense. Rather, Walker’s images are intentionally ambiguous—seductive and repulsive, beautiful and horrifying—in a way that leaves room for imagination and reflection. Her poignant works in various mediums beg the question and affirm the answer: Can provoking discomfort, disgust, tension, and anxiety explode stereotypes and set us on a more equitable and just path? We cannot ascend to reconciliation without speaking the truth.

Parents are encouraged to preview the exhibition.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

July 2021

After being closed for one hundred days because of COVID-19, the Frist Art Museum reopened to the public one year ago. It was important to us to ensure that guests had the opportunity to see art in person because we believe art can feed the soul, inspire curiosity, and sometimes change our point of view. The international calls for social justice and equity that intensified last year provoked a renewed and heightened level of awareness and exploration, leading us into an intense period of self-examination.

Following a six-month process led by Lord Cultural Resources that involved internal and external interviews, workshops, and training, the Frist staff and board collaborated on the creation of a three-year plan with priorities, strategies, and tasks designed to deepen our institutional commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. The plan was approved and adopted by the board at the April meeting.

Members and regular visitors have seen art at the Frist from many cultures and different time periods over the past twenty years. The way we respond to art and exhibitions is informed not only by previous experiences but also by changes in context. Indeed, the events of the year 2020, including the impact of the pandemic and the calls for racial reckoning following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, exposed inequities based largely on race, but also on class. We are changed by those events, and our encounters with the past are subject to a new level of scrutiny.

On July 23, Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation opens to the public. Walker’s powerful and provocative images employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism, and other power structures, including those in the history and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture. The issues she addresses in her work were hard-hitting thirty years ago. Today, they concern mainstream topics than cannot be ignored.

Last month, the US Senate and then the House of Representatives passed legislation establishing June 19 (Juneteenth) as a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring all enslaved people free. The two-year delay points to one gap between freedom on paper and freedom in practice. It also reminds us that the path to a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all has been tortured at times, riddled with inequities, and far from complete.

Contemporary celebrations of Independence Day on July 4 come with increased awareness of the genocide of Indigenous peoples and a renewed commitment to an inclusive narrative of the past to ensure a more nuanced understanding of ourselves and others. At the Frist, we believe that art factors into the social goals of providing for the common good and ensuring a more inclusive and equitable society, and that cultural organizations can play critical roles in that work.

The quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change we want to see in the world,” bears merit regardless of its source. It stops us from judging others, inspires self-reflection, and stirs us to action. Come to the Frist Art Museum to see art and be inspired.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

June 2021

Welcome to the Frist Art Museum online.

On June 11, the Frist Art Museum will open two exhibitions: Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style in the Ingram Gallery and Bethany Collins: Evensong in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery. Regular guests will recognize the familiar pattern of changing exhibitions. If you are new to Nashville or new to the Frist, we invite you to visit throughout the year for the full range of art on view from around the world, from antiquity to yesterday. Because the Frist Art Museum is a noncollecting institution, there are unending opportunities to feed your soul, challenge your assumptions, and spark your curiosity.

For more than year, the Frist Art Museum has offered exhibitions and programs online. As we transition to more in-person programming this summer, we will continue drawing on the safety and convenience of remote access. As the landscape of the pandemic remains in flux, we will keep consulting national and local experts about COVID contagion rates, vaccination statistics, and OSHA recommendations for workplace safety. Please check our website for the most up-to-date information about scheduling your visit. Timed tickets are available online but are not required. Walk-ups are welcome! And, remember, admission for visitors ages 18 and younger is always free.

Plan to come downtown in the weeks ahead to view the exhibitions opening in June, as well as A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum in the Conte Community Arts Gallery, Creating the American West in Art in the Upper-Level Galleries through June 27, and N2020: Community Reflections, an exhibition available both on our website and via screenings in the auditorium.

If you are not a member, please consider joining the Frist Art Museum. Enjoy free admission for a full year, become eligible for previews and other members-only activities, and receive our Frist Art Museum Bulletin, along with discounts on classes, parking, and purchases in our gift shop. Plus, you will have the opportunity to meet new and interesting people at the Frist.

We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

May 2021

Welcome to the Frist Art Museum online.

The Frist Art Museum is a noncollecting institution. This model is energizing, dynamic, and nimble. Since 2001, we have presented more than two hundred temporary exhibitions. They have brought to our guests art made from antiquity to yesterday by people from around the world and country, as well as from our community.

Because the Frist is always in a state of becoming, it has been difficult to pinpoint when to retire. Still, our twentieth-anniversary year has provided a good moment to transition to the next generation of leadership. Serving the community, the mission, and the field in this position has been rewarding on every level, and I am profoundly grateful.

In 2004, as the second director of the Frist, I was given a rare opportunity in my profession—to take a young art institution through the critical years of establishing its reputation for excellence and relevance. Fulfilling this mandate would have been impossible without an extraordinary board, a tremendously talented staff, and a corps of generous volunteers and supporters dedicated to changing the world—and perhaps ourselves—by what we do at the Frist Art Museum. Now, almost two decades later, change remains a constant, including in the museum world. Our visionary founders put the museum at the forefront of exciting work now taking place, including the full embrace of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) initiatives.

In April, the board of trustees approved a three-year plan to deepen the institutional commitment to DEAI. Following a six-month process led by Lord Cultural Resources that involved internal and external interviews, workshops, and training, the Frist staff and board collaborated on the creation of a document that outlines priorities, strategies, and tasks that will be evaluated and reported at quarterly meetings.

My retirement will not delay or derail the DEAI plan. It will be passed to the incoming director for execution.

I am committed to working with the Frist Art Museum leadership to ensure a smooth transition into the organization’s next chapter. The board has started considering next steps as they look for the right person to take the helm, build on the existing strengths of the institution, and lead the Frist Art Museum into a promising future.

In the meantime, our work at the museum continues apace in this, our twentieth year. Thank you for your support of Picasso. Figures. It’s been a joy to bring this work to Middle Tennessee. Plan to join us in the weeks ahead for A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum, Creating the American West in Art, and N2020: Community Reflections.

We look forward to seeing you.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

April 2021

Welcome to the Frist Art Museum online.

If you are a long-time resident of Nashville or the surrounding area, you may recall the grand opening of FAM (as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts) on April 8, 2001. By all accounts it was an unseasonably warm day, but the weather could not tamp down the excitement in the air. Thousands arrived to celebrate the successful conversion of the main post office into a center for presenting the art of the world and offering related programs and activities to inform, engage, and delight. If you, like many of us, moved to the area more recently, the majesty of the building and FAM’s many offerings may speak of an older, more established institution. To learn more about the remarkable collaboration between public and private interests twenty years ago, visit the Conte Community Arts Gallery to see the exhibition A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum.

We want to express our sincere appreciation to all who contributed their time, talent, connections, and wisdom not only to open but also to sustain the Frist Art Museum since 2001. There have been temporary setbacks after 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008–9, the flood of 2010, and the tornado, pandemic, and racial reckoning of 2020. Nevertheless, we have been able to stay the course, remaining on mission and true to our vision of presenting opportunities to learn about the values, religions, and history of the world’s cultures as manifested in the visual arts.

The art of the world includes the creativity of those artists living and working in our own community. Please be sure to look at our online exhibition N2020, organized by Woke3, which presents images, music, spoken word, dance, and videos made between March 3, the anniversary of the tornado, and December 25, when a bombing on Lower Broadway killed one, injured dozens, and damaged approximately fifty historic buildings. N2020’s responses to the series of tragedies encountered in 2020 embody pain but also hope.

In April, our schedule includes Mondays. This gives you additional days to choose from when booking your timed tickets to see Picasso. Figures, before it closes on May 2. Do not miss the rare opportunity to spend time with more than eighty works of art on loan to the Frist Art Museum from the Musée national Picasso-Paris. Picasso is recognized as one of the premier figures in the history of art and arguably is the most influential artist of the twentieth century. See how he combined the personal and the political, and how his art testifies to the intersectionality of social norms and cultural context.

Creating the American West in Art presents many of the best-loved themes in American art while prompting discussions concerning the historical representation of the mythological West, cowboy culture, and stereotypes of Indigenous people. How was visual culture enlisted to support the doctrine of manifest destiny, concepts of progress, and American imperialism? For more than four decades, art historians have been examining accepted tropes in the visual arts to delve more deeply into implicit meanings. The process does not negate the beauty or the validity of cherished works of art, or the skill of their creators. Rather, rethinking inherited norms adds richness and relevance.

Please join us in person and online to see art that delights and provokes, in good ways, and to take advantage of programs and activities for all ages.

Stay safe.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD

March 2021

Many believe that the lore about March—in like a lion, out like a lamb—is more hope than certifiable weather pattern. In the past twelve months, our community and the world have encountered repeated natural and man-made disasters. Our values and beliefs were tested; yet communities everywhere responded by coming together to comfort, serve, mend, heal, and listen.

Please visit our new online exhibition, N2020, with guest curator Woke3, where you will see images made last year between March 3, when Nashville was hit by a devastating tornado, and December 25, when a bombing on Lower Broadway killed one, injured dozens, and damaged approximately fifty historic buildings. These painful realities embody tragedy but also hope. Nashville Strong is a promise. The local commitment to examining systemic racism and inequity as we work toward a more just society is palpable. We at the Frist are committed to the process and the time it will take to effect meaningful change.

Our role in the challenges before us requires listening, keeping open minds, and remaining true to the mission of the Frist Art Museum. The vision to inspire others through art to see their world in new ways is designed to encourage conversations and greater understanding of how the past can expose truths—laudable or deplorable—that open the doors to reconciliation.

Picasso. Figures includes stunning works of art that demonstrate how one artist combined the personal and the political, and how his art testifies to the intersectionality of social norms and cultural context. The exhibition takes aim at the artist’s misogyny. Picasso cannot come away in the current sensitivity to gender equality without a black eye. Still, the art holds more for us than his culpability. Picasso remains a prodigious talent in tune with the intellectual, philosophical, and political circumstances of his time. A visit to the exhibition will doubtless spark your own conversations about the art, the artist, and lessons for the future.

Similarly, Creating the American West in Art prompts discussions concerning the historical representation of the mythological West, cowboy culture, and stereotypes of Indigenous people. How was visual culture enlisted to support the doctrine of manifest destiny, concepts of progress, and American imperialism? For more than four decades, art historians have been examining accepted tropes in the visual arts to peel away the layers of meaning to reveal their implicit meanings. The process does not negate beauty, the competence of the artist, or the validity of works of art. Rather, rethinking inherited norms adds richness and relevance.

Please join us in person and online to see art that delights and provokes, in good ways.

Stay safe.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

February 2021

Welcome to the Frist Art Museum online.

Since this time last year, we have become both closer and more isolated. Meeting in cyberspace helps us stay connected, but there is a huge appetite for seeing one another and art in person. Indoor activities such as visiting the Frist Art Museum require your cooperation: we appreciate your observing the mandated protocols of physical distancing and wearing masks properly at all times.

Please make plans to see Picasso. Figures this spring while the exhibition is in Nashville, the only US venue. Because we must limit the number of people in our building, we encourage you to reserve advance timed tickets now. Your booking early allows us to adjust or add hours so that we can provide you with the safest and most enjoyable museum visit possible.

There is no premium on tickets for Picasso. Figures. For reservations, go to FristArtMuseum.org/tickets. From February 14 through May 2, Sunday mornings will be reserved for members only. A FAM membership includes unlimited free admission to all exhibitions for a full year.

In 2021, the exhibitions and programs on-site and online are designed to offer not only beauty, joy, inspiration, and solace, but also opportunities to examine our world and our place in it. Curators, educators, and academics accept that history, including the history of art, is a construction that requires relentless scrutiny to prevent the inequities of the past from being what “just is” rather than “justice.”* We believe art offers transformative experiences, and we invite all curious people to allow the arts to touch your heart and feed your soul.

Thank you again for your loyal support to the Frist Art Museum with your memberships and donations. Our doors are open, and we look forward to seeing you at the museum.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

* Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” delivered on January 20, 2021, at the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala D. Harris.

January 2021

Dear Friends of the Frist,

It’s time for New Year’s resolutions and the spirit of new beginnings. Those sentiments have added meaning this year as we all wish fervently that we could leave the death, disease, and disruption of 2020 behind us. While there are well-placed reasons for optimism, pragmatism requires us to exercise caution and adjust our expectations realistically. That said, current best advice allows indoor activities such as visiting the Frist Art Museum.

We have adjusted our schedule temporarily. For now, we are open Thursdays through Sundays—the most popular days among our guests. From Thursday through Saturday, our hours are 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and on Sundays our galleries and gift shop are open to you from 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. Martin ArtQuest will be accessible 1:00–5:00 p.m. on all four days. Service in the café has been suspended, but vending machines and seating remain available.

The exhibition schedule for 2021 is robust, and you will not want to miss the rare opportunity to see Picasso. Figures, on loan to us from the Musée national Picasso-Paris, as well as art from Nashville and the world. Our top priority is to ensure your safety. We continue to be diligent in following all recommended protocols and requiring all guests to do the same. Our spacious galleries allow ample room for social distancing, and a complete list of safety measures can be found on our website.

Reservations can be made at FristArtMuseum.org/tickets. The present reduction in downtown traffic means that parking is readily available in our visitor lot.

Be sure to consult FristArtMuseum.org before your visit for the most up-to-date information—and, while you’re there, enjoy our array of online programs, including Frist at Home tours (with new sessions streamed weekly), Storytime (in English, Spanish, and ASL), panel discussions, art history classes, curator’s tours, digital exhibitions (such as 2020 Young Tennessee Artists), and other offerings.

Thank you to all who have continued to support the Frist Art Museum with your memberships and donations during this challenging period. Your generosity is appreciated more than you know.

While we must operate on a temporarily modified schedule for the time being, we look forward to restoring our hours as circumstances permit. Our commitment to our communities—to education, equity, and diversity, and to the healing, nurturing, and inspiring power of art—is unwavering.

Please stay safe.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

Summer 2020

Dear Friends of the Frist,

We join the international outcry denouncing racism, intolerance, and violence, and we, like those filling streets around the world in protest, mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many other victims before them. We join the world to say that Black Lives Matter. Given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, these recent killings underscore the inequities and casualties of systemic racism and make the need for real change even more urgent. We at the Frist Art Museum strive to be a part of an immediate and sustained movement for change.

As a visual arts organization founded in 2001, we are in a strong position to be part of a communal force committed to deconstructing assumed truths inherited from the past. The Frist was conceived as an institution devoted to education, the celebration of visual culture, and a deeply rooted belief that seeing the world differently through art can change lives. From our founding, we have been charged with bringing to light a more thorough understanding of the world’s peoples, cultures, and religions and their respective contributions to humanity, with special attention paid to the ethnic and racial diversity of our own country and community.

We are rigorously committed to examining ourselves, our presumptions and motives, our operations and programming, and our staff, volunteers, board, and councils. We can always do better. Nashville has a place in the history of the twentieth-century civil rights movement that was not always peaceful or easy. Ensuring that we are on the right side of history in 2020 is a responsibility we share. We look forward to coming together as we move toward a more equitable and just society. In service all things are possible.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access, in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.