The Frist Art Museum recently announced a new exhibit dedicated to exploring and honoring Black American identity in the U.S.
Set for display from Sep. 15 through to Dec. 32, the Nashville-based museum’s latest exhibit is the first exhibit to discuss Black American identity. Composed of 80 collages, the exhibit, titled “Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage,” explores concepts such as cultures, gender, history and more.
Seven themes lead the structure of the exhibit; along with personal and overall history, the exhibit revolves around topics such as heritage, gender, sexual constructs and race. A total of 52 current and living artists are set to take part in “Multiplicity” as they’re confirmed to submit their work for the exhibit.
Artists Lauren Halsey, Rashid Johnson, Kerry James Marshall, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Mark Broadford and Wangechi Mutu are confirmed contributors to the project. Deborah Roberts, Lorna Simpson, Michalene Thomas, Tschabalala Self and Devin Shimoyama were also named by the museum as artists that will take part in “Multiplicity.”
In honor of the exhibit, the museum will partner with a variety of organizations and institutions as part of a larger project.
Along with collaborating with the students at HBCU Fisk University, the museum’s larger project will consist of partnerships with the university’s leaders, Tennessee State University, William Edmondson Park and art festival Artville to display faithful reproductions of collages featured in the exhibit.
In a press release, the museum’s senior curator, Katie Delmez, highlighted the importance of collages in art history.
“Although it is a nearly ubiquitous art form used by elementary school students to the biggest names in modern art history—Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, and Robert Rauschenberg—twenty-first century collage is an arguably understudied and undervalued medium, especially in museum exhibitions,” said Delmez. “Multiplicity is an opportunity to spotlight the formal complexity and vibrancy of the technique and to assert its contributions to the field through the lens of some of today’s leading artists.”
The artwork featured in the upcoming exhibit is inspired by multiple Black American artists, including Romare Bearden. Part of the Harlem Renaissance, Bearden also became renowned for his use of art to support the civil rights movement, forming a Harlem-based art group in order to emphasize the impact an artist can have. Primarily a painter and collage artist, his works include pieces that captured Black American culture in the 20th century such as “Three Folk Musicians.”
Artist Faith Ringgold is another influence for the new exhibit. Known for her painting and textile arts using quilts, Ringgold’s work was heavily inspired by the writings of authors Amikir Baraka and James Baldwin as well as African Art. During the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, her already-political work reflected her perspective of the movements as a woman, exploring concepts such as racial issues in the U.S. through quilt artwork.
Other artists that were cited as providing the basis for the new exhibit include Betye Saar, David C. Driskell, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence and Sam Middleton.