Frist Art Museum brings Cuban art to Nashville
Nashville’s Frist Art Museum hosted On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Pérez Art Museum Miami from January through May 2022, featuring approximately 70 works by 50 Cuban artists, including María Magdalena Campos-Pons (Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Fine Arts), Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, Teresita Fernández, and Zilia Sánchez. The concept of “horizon” was used by curator Tobias Ostrander as an organizing principle for the exhibit and a metaphor for aspirations of Cubans living in Cuba and in the diaspora.
The paintings, photographs, sculptures, and videos came from one of the largest public collections of Cuban art in the United States, and presented diverse perspectives of the landscape of the island, political history, and the Cuban diaspora. Visitors were immediately drawn into the exhibit by Yuan Capote’s massive Isla. The work depicts a shimmering ocean, that upon closer inspection is composed of over 500,000 fishhooks below a pink sky colored by the blood of the artist and his team as they created the piece.
The exhibit was attended by 33,794 people, and Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies (CLACX) supported it at the Program Sponsor level. CLACX also partnered with the Frist to provide educator workshops, a public discussion panel featuring Vanderbilt faculty, and Spanish language translation for the program, labels, and public tours.
In February, two K-12 educator workshops examined the main themes of the exhibition. Both workshops featured a tour of the exhibition with Frist Chief Curator Mark Scala, who highlighted the inspirations and conversations behind the artwork, as well as hand-on art activities led by Shaun Giles (Frist Art Museum) and academic lectures by Vanderbilt faculty. W. Frank Robinson (Vanderbilt History) presented the political and social history of the island in “Reflections on Revolutionary Cuba.” The second workshop spotlighted Jane Landers’ (Vanderbilt History) work on the Slave Society Digital Archives with her talk, “Historic Horizons between Cuba and Florida and their Afro and Indigenous Diasporas.” Both workshops included educational resources for teachers to continue their study of Cuba. Twenty Vanderbilt students also had the opportunity to attend a special tour of the exhibition with Frist Chief Curator Mark Scala organized by CLACX.
In March, CLACX and the Frist hosted “Patria y Vida: Reflections on Art and Politics in Cuba,” as part of the museum’s public lecture series. Attended by 66, the virtual conversation featured panelists Campos-Pons, Vanderbilt undergraduate student Luis Martínez, and David Plazas, opinion and engagement director, USA Today/The Tennessean. Their discussion centered on contemporary social and political issues in Cuba and was moderated by CLACX Director Celso Castilho.
Elvira Aballi Morell (doctoral student in Spanish and Portuguese) provided Spanish translations for the audio guide of the exhibition. In addition, she presented two gallery talks in Spanish, guiding attendees through the collection, highlighting selected works, and initiating conversations about immigration, US and Cuba relations, cultural and migratory policies, history, censorship, and cultural production in Cuba.