Nashville, Tennessee.- The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is proud to present “Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination”, on view at the museum from February 24th through May 28th 2012. The exhibition includes approximately sixty works by contemporary artists from around the world who have conceived humanlike, animal, or hybrid creatures to symbolize life’s mysteries, desires, and fears. The invented creatures and imaginary worlds featured in this exhibition have been inspired by oral and written sources as diverse as Aesop’s Fables, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, science fiction, and the products of the genetic experimentation in actual science. The artists selected for the exhibition redirect the emotional associations implicit in their sources–pleasure, fear, wonder, curiosity, and longing–to works of seductive fantasy and uneasy intrigue.
The exhibition is divided into three discrete sections The first section of the exhibition focuses on artists whose works adapt, interpret, or critique traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes. While questioning the socializing functions of fairy tales that perpetuate sexual and racial stereotypes, these works also explore folklore as archetypal expressions of subliminal fears and desires. Artists artists in this section include: Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, Tom Sachs, Paula Rego, and Cindy Sherman. The artists in Section II explore the depiction of the monster as a sign of the threatening “other” or of the uncontrollable forces of the psyche. The diversity of their imagery reflects the multiple associations of the word “monster,” which comes from the Latin verb monere, “to warn.” A self-described feminist artist Meghan Boody employs the syntax of the fairy tale to create psychosocial allegories of passage between the inner and outer realms.
Featured in the exhibition are several series of extraordinary photos which place strange characters in worlds in which they do not fit. New York based artist Inka Essenhigh explores historical practice in light of contemporary events. Her Brush with Death (2004) infers the great Spanish Baroque painter Francisco de Goya’s The Disasters of War (c. 1810-1820), but reincarnates the monster as an embodiment of contemporary horror, the recent war in Iraq. Her response has personal basis and speaks to the fear she experienced when her husband, artist Steve Mumford, embedded himself with American troops In Iraq to capture their stories in drawings and paintings. Work by Mark Hosford, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Andre Ethier, David Altmejd, Ashley Bickerton, Kate Clark, and Dinos and Jake Chapman are also featured in this section.
As the exhibition moves from superstition to fantasy to potential reality, its final section features artists’ depictions of new chimerae, which evoke the hybrid human/animals of old, while reflecting actual scientific developments toward the redefinition of life, especially in the field of genetic engineering. Australian artist, Patricia Piccinini investigates aspects of science, art and fantasy within her work, lending a bizarre yet charming quality to her creations fashioned out of silicone, fibreglass, hair, plywood and leather. Her Still Life with Stem Cells (2002) provides us with a cautionary note about our own unpreparedness in dealing ethically and humanely with the results of our scientific adventurism. Like Inka Essenhigh, Yinka Shonibare, is also inspired by the art of Francisco de Goya. Shonibare’s photograph The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America) (2008), responds to Goya’s similarly titled painting from 1799, and reflects the monsters unleashed under the aegis of the Enlightenment: racism, slavery, war, economic exploitation, and other blights of Western history. Also representing this theme are works by Janaina Tschäpe, Saya Woolfalk, Aziz & Cucher, Suzanne Anker, Charlie White, Motohiko Odani, Allison Schulnik, and Amy Stein. Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination has been organized by the Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition featuring an introduction and overview by Mark W. Scala, Chief Curator at the Frist Center, along with essays on the exhibition theme by distinguished scholars in the fields of art history, fairy tale and monster literature, and art’s relationship to science.
The Frist Center opened in April 2001, and since that time has hosted a spectacular array of art from the region, the country, and around the world. Unlike any traditional museum you’ve ever visited, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts has become a magnet for Nashville’s rapidly expanding visual arts scene. With an exhibitions schedule that has new art flowing through the magnificent Art Deco building every 6 to 8 weeks, no matter how often you visit, there is always something new and exciting to see in the spacious galleries. See a list of current and upcoming exhibitions. The Frist Center was conceived as a family-friendly place and one of the most popular locations in the center is the innovative Martin ArtQuest Gallery. It’s a colorful space alive with the sounds of learning through making art! ArtQuest activities abound for people of all ages. With 30 interactive stations, and the assistance of knowledgeable staff and volunteers, ArtQuest teaches through activity. Make a print, paint your own original watercolor, create your own colorful sculpture! It’s all there in ArtQuest, and it’s free with gallery admission for adults and always free for youth 18 and under. Visit the center’s website at … http://fristcenter.org