People Get Ready: Southern Lens
September 01, 2018 – January 06, 2019
Since opening in 2005, the Nasher Museum has been dedicated to building a groundbreaking collection of contemporary art centered on diversity and inclusion. The museum’s emphasis is on artists historically underrepresented, overlooked, or excluded from art institutions, with a particular focus on artists of African descent. In this effort, the museum supports global artists of extraordinary vision, whose works spark opportunities for thoughtful engagement. Drawing primarily on the collection built over the last 12 years, People Get Ready included works dating from 1970 through 2018 that address issues ranging from identity to social justice and environmentalism.
The title of the exhibition was derived from the 1965 gospel-influenced soul song by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Informed by the civil rights movement and his grandmothers’ preaching, the lyrics speak of hope, faith and redemption in the face of hardship. “People Get Ready” was sampled and reinterpreted that same year as a ska track by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and then again in 1977 as his reggae hit “One Love/People Get Ready,” demonstrating its historical import and cross-cultural appeal.
People Get Ready extended into The Collection Galleries in Wilson Pavilion, integrating some contemporary art among historical works in the collection. In doing so, connections across time, space and culture become possible and present the opportunity for challenging dialogue. In the Modern Gallery, the related mini-exhibition People Get Ready: Southern Lens explored southern culture through the museum’s rapidly growing photography collection. An early breakthrough work by Fred Wilson, Colonial Collection, continues to anchor the Arts of Africa Gallery, among traditional works of art from the continent. A painting by Kehinde Wiley is on view in the European Gallery; a work by Pedro Lasch reflects upon works in the Art of the Americas Gallery; a photograph by Eve Sussman brings a new dimension to the Medieval Gallery.
Artists in this major exhibition included Nina Chanel Abney, Emma Amos, Michael Armitage, Radcliffe Bailey, Maria Berrio, Barbara Chase-Riboud, William Cordova, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Marlene Dumas, William Eggleston, Dario Escobar, Mounir Fatmi, Genevieve Gaignard, Hassan Hajjaj, Lyle Ashton Harris, Barkley L. Hendricks, Yun-Fei Ji, Rashid Johnson, Pedro Lasch, Annie Lucas, Kerry James Marshall, Beverly McIver, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, Ebony G. Patterson, Fahamu Pecou, Lia Perjovschi, Robert A. Pruitt, Colin Quashie, Dario Robleto, Jim Roche, Amy Sherald, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Leonid Sokov, Eve Sussman, Henry Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Stacy Lynn Waddell, Carrie Mae Weems, Jeff Whetstone, Kehinde Wiley, Fred Wilson and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
People Get Ready was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum.
People Get Ready: Building a Contemporary Collection was supported by the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions; JoAnn and Ronald Busuttil; Katie Thorpe Kerr and Terrance I. R. Kerr; Jennifer McCracken New and Jason G. New; Lisa Lowenthal Pruzan and Jonathan Pruzan; and Karen M. Rabenau and David H. Harpole, M.D.
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