Frist Art Museum unveiled two new exhibits in the month of Black History and Love. Forget Me Nots is an exhibit by Nashville-based artist, LeXander Bryant. His art showcases themes of perseverance, family, poverty, and more. On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Pérez Art Museum Miami, features over 70 pieces from 50 different artists with different backgrounds, views, and stories. Thoughts of Cuban beaches bring peace and excitement to many people, but those who have lived in the experiences of the artists know it can be a different story.
LeXander Bryant: Forget Me Nots
This is Bryant’s first solo exhibit, and it features pieces similar to those seen in the Frist’s 2019 Murals of North Nashville like the wheatpaste posters that draw attention to the Black experience. Phrases like “DO NOT ALTER” and “DON’T BELIEVE YOUR LYING EYES” serve to help those who see them unlearn harmful propaganda and declare the value of Black lives,” as the exhibition’s gallery guide explains.
The titles of the studio photo installments, such as My Sister’s Keeper, The Family Trust, Can’t Afford Division, and more, create a reminder that family is incredibly important and in some cases, all we have.
Photos on the “Memory Wall” show the communities of North Nashville where Bryant lived since 2016. Photos of little black boys on bikes, neighborhood elders, and other everyday activities serve to bring a sense of familiarity to the onlookers, as these are images we can all relate to.
On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Peréz Art Museum
The theme of the horizon is often used in art to show contrast. For these artists, Cuba is a contrast of love, laughter, family, crime, poverty, fear, and more. Love and laughter because this is their home, the place their family is, and where they grew up. But the following crime, poverty, and fear are driving forces to look to other places for comfort and solace. An untitled work from 1990 by Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado) depicts people crowding into a small boat. The Cuban jargon expression “to row” could mean to do whatever is needed to survive or, if on the same ship, to collectively accept the same fate. The overcrowded ship shows this group fleeing Cuba, which at the time was in socioeconomic turmoil due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. While the group depicted seems lucky enough to be staying afloat, many of those who attempted to escape were not met with such success.
Other installments on display, like Antonia Wright’s I Scream, Therefore I Exist, comment on the different lives that are lived in these areas. Wright lives in Miami, Florida and the video was filmed at a resort in the Bahamas, though it could easily be anywhere warm. As the video plays, the elderly people in the area are enjoying the peacefulness that the resort seems to offer. They walk calmly along the edge of the pool and tread the water lightly. But, every so often, Wright swims under water, lets out an upset scream, and swims away. A yell so loud would expect to startle or disturb the scene above the water, but it doesn’t. This is because what happens below the surface does not always make its way to the top. The turmoil and struggles below may seem like they should be obvious, but the water distorts and masks it from those above. This powerful piece is a reminder that, though these places are filled with people who moved for retirement and relaxation, not everyone there is having the same calm experience.
Both of these exhibits will be on display at the First Art Museum from now until May 1, 2022. Be sure to tag @Urbaanite and @FristArtMuseum when you experience these incredible exhibits.
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.