Nick Cave Feat. at the Frist

posted by – 11/10/17 @ 12:47pm

Today, Feat. by Nick Cave opens at the Frist.  The exhibition features a wide variety of work, from sculptures, installation, video, fashion, and performance.  Immediately upon entering the exhibition space, viewers are confronted with the show’s title, an abbreviation of the word “featuring,” showcased as a large mirror, invoking the sense of a higher purpose in Cave’s work, which is to involve and feature the local community. In other words, he sees his exhibition as “Nick Cave feat. YOU!”

nick cave painting install

Artist, Nick Cave, was born in Missouri in 1959.  He earned his BFA from the Art Institute of Kansas City and his MFA in fiber arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit.  He has lived and worked in Chicago for the last 20 years, and teaches Fashion, Body, and Garment at SAIC.  His work has been exhibited internationally, in prestigious venues such as MOMA and the Hirshhorn.  He’s received quite a number or awards and grants, among them the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award.


The artist is best known for his soundsuits, which are full body covering garments bursting with color, texture, and whimsicality.  A runway of these soundsuits is presented in the first room of the exhibition space, alongside a short history of their origination.  Cave made his first soundsuit in response to the police killing of Rodney King in Los Angeles.  Feeling particularly vulnerable and emotionally distraught over this event, Cave collected twigs in a nearby Chicago park and created a rustling suit of armor to shield his identity as an African American man in this troubling era.  Thus began a 25+ year journey in creating over 500 wearable sculptures that speak to issues of race, class, gender, violence, and social responsibility.


In the next room of the exhibition, a life-size projected video of a figure moving in a black raffia sound suit mesmerizes viewers and begins to mimic images from a  Rorschach blot test.  On another wall hangs a round work made of beaded scraps from black formal wear, meant to harken back to the days Cave remembers laying in his grandparent’s backyard in the Missouri countryside gazing at a starry night sky.   The exhibit concludes with a floor-to-ceiling installation of an enchanted forest of colored beads, and four large-scale sculptural paintings.

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At the center of Cave’s work is a passion to connect and engage the community.  He often extends his work beyond gallery and museum walls and reaches out to include populations that may not experience culture in such a formal way as the art world often prescribes.  In addition to his exhibition at the Frist, Cave is directing a community engagement project throughout Nashville, the apex of which will be two free, public performances through the Shermerhorn Symphony Center on April 6th, 2018.  The performances will feature live dance, poetry, music and more from the citizens of Nashville itself, as well as the appearance of his famous sound suits.  The title of Cave’s exhibition “Feat.” invokes the sense of a higher purpose in Cave’s work, which is to involve and feature the local community in his artistic performance.  Together, the artist and the city will explore themes of identity and social justice through an explosion of beautiful sound, vibrant colors, and celebratory energy.


Reserve tickets here. 

The exhibition will be up from

November 10, 2017–June 24, 2018

*All photos courtesy of the Frist Center for Visual Arts


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