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A National Selfie

"Among the conventional wisdoms of our contemporary art, there is a notion that it's only being made in New York or L.A.," said Don Bacigalupi, board member, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. "But art is being made everywhere. It always has been." 

Your groups don't have to traverse the entire country to find works of art from vibrant communities nationwide, however. State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, a momentous survey of art from across the United States, will be on view at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts from May 26 through September 10, 2017.

First displayed in 2014 by the Crystal Bridges, the exhibit features artwork from diverse studios and creative communities across the United States. The Crystal Bridges curatorial team logged over 100,000 miles, crisscrossing the country to visit nearly 1,000 artists in rural communities, small towns and urban centers—a year-long project that resulted in an exhibit at the forefront of ongoing discussion about art in the United States.

The Frist Center will present works by 45 of the artists from the original exhibition. The works represent artists with an impressive diversity of worldviews, styles and mediums, and are grouped thematically to demonstrate connections between artists and ideas across the country. Common themes found throughout the exhibition include racial tension, economic inequity and the urban-rural political sphere.

"No single exhibition can provide a true sense of a nation's art—the aesthetic variety is too vast for any cohesive context to emerge," said Mark Scala, chief curator, Frist Center. "Yet State of the Art begins the process of mining the abundant creativity that exists across the United States. As a national selfie, it is impressionistic and incomplete, but endlessly open to and brimming with possibility."

For more information on State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, visit fristcenter.org.

Photo: John Douglas Powers (b. 1978).Ialu, 2011. Wood, steel, plastic, electric motor, and video projection, 57 x 80 x 108 in. Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.


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