Frist Art Museum Presents Exhibition of Paintings, Photography, and More by Artists with Disabilities

The Power of Resilience

August 25, 2023–April 1, 2024


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 10, 2023)—The Frist Art Museum presents The Power of Resilience, an exhibition featuring works by more than 80 adult artists with disabilities who are served by five social service agencies in Middle Tennessee. The exhibition includes individual and collaborative artworks and will be on view in the always-free Conte Community Arts Gallery from August 25, 2023, through April 1, 2024.

These creations were inspired by the notion of resilience—the ability to withstand, adjust to, or recover from life’s difficulties, often by overcoming fear, isolation, and insecurity. “By focusing on the artists’ unique abilities and boundless creativity, this exhibition promotes growth, healing, and empathy among all people,” says exhibition curator and community engagement director Shaun Giles.

Guided by teaching artists, groups at AbleVoices; Borderless Arts; Friends Life Community; Healing Arts Project, Inc.; and Metro Parks disABILITIES made works of art that address themes of identity, visibility, healing, and more. To create greater community and personal self-awareness, AbleVoices encouraged its photographers with disabilities to reflect on and express their challenges, interests, and strengths. In a collaborative project, participating artists from Borderless Arts created an emotionally expressive abstract work focused on both devastation and revitalization using fabric shapes, textures, and colors. Friends Life Community artists constructed a collaborative quilt of symbolic images sewn alongside their own portraits to celebrate both community and individuality. Responding to the themes of human nature and mother nature, the paintings and collages made by Healing Arts Project, Inc., represent interpretations of personal resilience, regeneration, and the four seasons. In three projects, participating artists from Metro Parks disABILITIES created layered paintings, torn and reassembled watercolors, and mixed-media works to symbolize post-traumatic growth and recovery.

About the Organizations

AbleVoices is a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to amplify the voices of people with disabilities through the powerful medium of photography and, in doing so, foster more inclusive communities. They teach photography to youth and adults with disabilities as a means for self-expression, as a creative outlet, and for disability advocacy. Their flagship program, Photography for Self-Expression, is offered in schools, community organizations, and virtually.

Jen Vogus is a teaching artist and the executive director of AbleVoices. Vogus founded AbleVoices by combining her professional expertise as a teacher and photographer with her personal experience and passionate advocacy for her son, who has a disability and does not communicate verbally.

Healing Arts Project, Inc.
Healing Arts Project, Inc. (HAPI) provides artistic opportunities for persons in mental health and addiction recovery to promote healing, community awareness, and inclusion. HAPI exists to fill a gap in recovery and rehabilitation services by providing free art classes taught by professional artists, art exhibition and publication opportunities, and outreach events. These opportunities help participants express and externalize their personal struggles as they create art to tell their stories. HAPI serves approximately five hundred individuals in mental health and addiction recovery each year.

Jan Batts studied art at Memphis State University and continues to study under prominent artists throughout the country and abroad. She is an award-winning artist who has been painting professionally for over twenty years. She is a past president of the Tennessee Art League and Tennessee Watercolor Society. Batts is also a past president and current treasurer of the Nashville Artist Guild. She owns her own business, Bats Beaux-arts, which promotes the visual arts.

Metro Parks disABILITIES
The Metro Parks disABILITIES Programs provide individuals with Intellectual and Developmental disABILITIES (IDD) and their families and caregivers opportunities for sports, arts, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and social interactions. It is the mission of the Metro Parks disABILITIES Programs to provide every citizen of Nashville and Davidson County with IDDs with an equal opportunity for safe recreational and cultural activities.

Stephenie (Stevie) Bailey is an artist, mom, advocate, and caregiver to her adult child with special needs. Stephenie worked in the service sector and took night classes at Nashville State Community College, where she studied American Sign Language. She attended Watkins College of Art, where she received merit scholarships and earned her bachelor of fine arts degree cum laude in 2018. She has collaborated with the Nashville Dolphins, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, Metro Arts, and others. She and her daughter are advocating for the parents-as-certified nursing assistants program and basic support for adults with complex caregiving needs.

Friends Life Community
The mission of Friends Life Community is to provide opportunities for teenagers and adults with developmental disabilities to grow personally, develop socially, and be active members of the community. Their Immersive Weekday Program provides person-driven support through group learning and community-based classes. Participants choose classes in life skills, service learning and employment, and visual and performing arts. The process of self-expression and discovery is a way for these artists to communicate who they are and what is important to them. They connect with others through sharing their artwork in exhibitions and working collaboratively. Friends Life artists are professional artists and inspire others who work alongside them.

Jim Sherraden has been an active and popular printmaker since 1980, and his work is collected by individuals and institutions worldwide. His art has toured with a Smithsonian exhibition and has been shown at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is also an award-winning author and lyricist. Since 1984, Sherraden’s name has been synonymous with Hatch Show Print, the iconic letterpress poster and design shop in Nashville, Tennessee. For his work at Hatch, Sherraden was a recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Artist Award for the state of Tennessee, was the American Advertising Nashville 2013 Silver Medalist, and was awarded the Krider Prize for Creativity by the University and College Designers Association in the fall of 2014.

Borderless Arts Tennessee
Borderless Arts Tennessee (formerly VSA Tennessee), established in 2001, is a nonprofit organization committed to inclusive and accessible arts programs for people with disabilities, enhancing educational curriculum, enriching creative expression, empowering career development, and encouraging community engagement. The organization works with people of all ages with any form of disability. Borderless Arts Tennessee is the current Governor’s Arts Award recipient for arts leadership.

Lauren E. Rudd is a quilter, fiber artist, and professor in the Textiles, Merchandising, and Design program at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in art, a masters of science in computer-aided design, and a doctorate in education. Lauren works with Borderless Arts Tennessee, enabling people with disabilities to develop their creative expression using various fiber arts methods. Their collaborative fiber art pieces are included in the US State Department Arts in Embassies Program and have been featured at the United Nations, several national parks, and the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Florida. Dr. Rudd creates traditional and art quilts focusing on color, textures, and patterns. She has also published illustrations for a textiles textbook and presented a gallery talk at the Frist Art Museum on Frida Kahlo’s clothing.

Exhibition Credit

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Image Credits

Left: Sami Zanni. In a Bubble, 2023. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist

Right: Graham, Bradley, Nic, Galo, Randle, Sean, Sam, Grant, Rebekah, Isabel, and Sarah. Powerful As I Am Community Quilt, 2023. Relief prints and silk screen on fabric. Courtesy of the artists

Supporter Acknowledgment

Supported in part by the Truist Foundation and the Frist Art Museum’s O’Keeffe Circle

The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by The Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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