The Frist Center for the Visual Arts presents Exquisite Nashville, an exhibition of collaborative artworks created by four Nashville community organizations that celebrates the city’s dynamic cross-cultural interactions and creative potential in the 21st century. Inspired by the Exquisite Corpse—a creative game conceived by Surrealist artists and writers in the 1920s—Exquisite Nashville contains imaginative reflections of Nashville’s various communities, including longtime residents, immigrants, refugees, and homeless individuals and families. The exhibition will be on view in the Center’s free Conte Community Arts Gallery from March 13 to July 5, 2015.
The Exquisite Nashville project brought together participants of all ages from the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Conexión Américas, the Edmondson Pike Branch of the Nashville Public Library, and Room in the Inn. Working with Middle Tennessee teaching artists Kaaren Hirschowitz Engel, Sisavanh Houghton, Meghan O’Connor, and Jamaal Sheats, each organization initiated a work that traveled to the other three groups for their respective contributions and alterations.
The Surrealist Exquisite Corpse game of the 1920s would begin with a participant writing a phrase or drawing an image on a section of paper. The sheet was then folded so that the phrase or image was almost completely concealed. It was then passed to the next person, who would take the small visible portion of the existing work as the inspiration for an imaginative extension of the drawing or phrase. After everyone in the group had made a contribution, a surprising hybrid image would be revealed when the paper was unfolded.
“Like the Surrealist game, Exquisite Nashville involved the passing of an artwork among several participants,” says Shaun Giles, Frist Center Educator for Community Engagement. “Each organization initiated three works of art, one of which rotated among the four participating organizations for contributions before it was revealed in its entirety, while the other two works remained within the organization and were passed among the participants.” The completed works explore themes such as the idea of home, identity and nationality, and are done in a variety of media, including fabric, metal tooling, paint on linoleum, mixed media drawings, and wood sculpture.
“The project demonstrates that the input of many people could result in a more imaginative work than that produced by a single artist or writer,” says Mr. Giles. “Exquisite Nashville brought participants together in a spirit of exchange, with the hope of inspiring our visitors to see their world in new ways through art,” says Mr. Giles.