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Frist Center Presents Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, Installations, Video, and More in Dynamic Survey Exhibition

Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (b. 1959) creates works at the intersection of sculpture, dance, and fashion, reflecting his experience as a trained visual artist who studied with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and a professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
He is best known for his elaborate “soundsuits,” human-shaped sculptural forms composed of a wide variety of found and repurposed materials. This dynamic exhibition will include a selection of soundsuits, as well as a projected video, several wall-mounted sculptures, and a large multimedia installation. The works are broadly accessible to audiences of all ages and, on a deeper level, speak to issues of racial and social justice and the need for more time and space in contemporary society to cultivate individual dreams and aspirations.

Exhibition Highlights

• A runway of 10 soundsuits (2011–17), which were initially inspired by the 1991 Rodney King police beating

• Immersive life-size video work Blot (2012)

• A gallery wrapped in twinkling “Buttonwall” fabric (2013)

• The “Architectural Forest” installation (2011), rarely on view since its creation, made from thousands of hanging strands of colorfully patterned bamboo

Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville – April 6, 2018

In conjunction with the exhibition Nick Cave: Feat., the artist will direct a months-long community engagement project that will culminate in free public performances. These major events will feature live dance, music, soundsuits, and spoken word. Cave’s original compositions will showcase local talent from performing arts organizations and universities and engage Middle Tennessee’s increasingly multicultural population. Cave’s wondrous and awe-inspiring performances explore timely themes of identity, social justice, and the power of art to transform our world.

In one of the compositions, members of our community will cover Cave’s body with up to 30 beaded blankets to symbolize a transfer of the weight and burdens we carry in our lives. The blankets will be made during “bead-a-thons” at the Frist Center’s sustaining community partners, including Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Edmondson Pike Library.

Exhibition Publication
An unorthodox exhibition “catalogue” will accompany the Frist Center’s presentation. It is a large tapestry made of durable, weather-resistant material, that, unfurled, can potentially serve an array of functions—wall art, a picnic blanket, a tablecloth—depending on the user’s imagination and preference. In the spirit of Cave’s sculptural work and public performances, it also offers the viewpoints of multiple perspectives from a cross-section of disciplines. Collaborators on past projects, including choreographer Bill T. Jones, and current Nashville creatives, both established and emerging, were invited to reflect on aspects of Cave’s practice, such as justice and transformation. “The somewhat unwieldy presentation of the essay is intended to recall a time when people had to interact physically with documents like newspapers or printed maps to access information, unlike today when nearly everything can be retrieved from our phones,” said Frist Center curator Katie Delmez. “Cave also wants to underscore the importance of good art and design in our everyday lives.”

Exhibition Credit

Exhibition and program organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Exhibition Sponsors

This exhibition is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by an NEA Art Works Grant.


April 6, 2018: Matinee at 10:00 a.m. for school children and families; evening performance at 7:30 p.m. for the general public. Both performances will be held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Tickets will be available through the Frist Center’s website in mid-October on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit for more information.

Nick Cave. Soundsuit, 2015. Mixed media, including synthetic hair, ceramic birds, strung beads, wire, metal, and mannequin, 108 x 43 x 40 in. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Nick Cave. Photo: James Prinz Photography