NASHVILLE, TN.- In American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum, presented at the Frist Center through May 1, 2005, visitors will encounter works that are perhaps expected in a folk art exhibition: a carefully chosen selection of finely crafted paintings, sculptures and quilts. But, alongside these more traditional art forms are some unexpected — maybe even startling — art works, including decorated tree roots, carved games of chance, wood bultos (religious carvings indigenous to New Mexico), weather vanes and whirligigs. In total, this exhibition features more than 130 objects from the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York. These works reflect the cultural priorities and regional influences, the national and personal experiences of Americans from the 17th century to the present.
The exhibition begins with beautiful and well-crafted household objects produced in or before the 19th century, such as colorful textiles, painted furniture and folk portraits. While produced in a variety of mediums, these objects often feature related decorative motifs, demonstrating the sharing of aesthetic ideas that marked the early years of the nation’s expansion and settlement.
American Anthem continues with an examination of works that express patriotic and political attitudes as well as works that comment on the significant cultural changes brought about by industrialization.
The exhibition concludes with early 20th-century paintings by self-taught artists, including Grandma Moses and Horace Pippin, and an exploration of the spiritual and psychological dimensions of outsider and visionary art, as seen in works by Bill Traylor, Edgar Tolson, Bessie Harvey and Howard Finster.
American folk art has served many utilitarian, aesthetic and psychological functions through time, adapting to the needs and rhythms of each age. Uniting these diverse expressions, American Anthem celebrates the powerful spirit of creativity that has animated the lives of everyday Americans.
American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum has been organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York. The tour of American Anthem is nationally sponsored by Altria Group. The exhibition is sponsored locally by 2005 Exhibition Series Platinum Sponsor HCA and the TriStar Family of Hospitals and Gold Sponsor First Tennessee.
“The Frist Center is a fabulous resource for Nashville,” said Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Chairman and CEO of HCA. “We have intentionally focused giving as well as employee volunteerism there because of the Frist Center’s contributions to quality of life in the area and its accessibility to everyone in Middle Tennessee.”
“First Tennessee has made a major partnership commitment with the Frist Center for several years because we believe in its goal of presenting quality art exhibitions and education programs,” said Mike Edwards, First Tennessee’s Nashville regional president. “We are honored to be part of the American Anthem exhibition and to bring the richness of America’s folk heritage to Middle Tennessee.”