Lila Miller, A&E Editor
An exhibition for internationally-renowned artist and educator Nick Cave will be available at the Jepson Center beginning Friday, Jan. 27. The event will showcase the largest body of Cave’s installation artwork in Georgia, some of which will be on display for the first time in the Southeast. The showing will run from Jan.27 through April 23, 2017.
As a Chicago-based artist, Cave explores art and the role of identity within it through his own personal lens as an African-American. He experiments with a variety of work such as sculpting, visual and fine arts, installation, video, sound and performance.
His latest exhibition focuses primarily on his “Soundsuits” series. Cave creates sculptural “suits” called Soundsuits to the scale of his own body comprised of what he describes as “materials that rattle with movement… Like a coat of armor, they embellish the body while protecting the wearer from outside culture.”
The exhibition also features a recently-commissioned essay by Armstrong’s own Dr. Regina Bradley of the Languages, Literature and Philosophy department. Bradley is an assistant professor of African American Literature and recently made national headlines for her new English course, “OutKast and the Rise of the Hip-Hop South.”
Cave’s perspective as an African-American is portrayed vividly through his work. In “Soundsuits,” Cave explores race and identity, particularly in America. His first Soundsuit was a direct reaction to the 1992 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. Cave often uses his art to turn pain into a product.
His Soundsuits are primarily based on the intentional use of camouflage as a second skin devoid of gender, race and class. In utilizing the idea of anonymity, Cave encourages the viewer to observe the work without prejudice, bias or judgment.
Construction of the suits Cave involves found objects like children’s toys, yarn, buttons, baskets, sequins, and occasionally human hair. He employs exquisite craftsman- ship into each suit with striking attention to detail. While the suits are intricate and extravagant in nature, the deeper meaning truly lies within understanding cultural identity and promoting discussion.
The exhibition features a various selection of Soundsuits made over the course of the last ten years. It also displays an installation of a seven-part Soundsuit, titled “Speak Louder” (2011). The last portion of the exhibit features two Tondos, which are large circular works evocative of the night sky and cosmos.
Nick Cave lives and works in Chicago, Il. He continues to make art and is the director of the graduate fashion program at the Art Institute of Chicago.