AMHERST, Mass.-On Friday, April 27, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host renowned contemporary performance artist and sculptor Nick Cave in a free public program in Stirn Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. The program will feature Cave in conversation with Marilyn M. Sylla, lecturer in the Five College Dance Department.
Preceding Cave and Sylla's conversation in Stirn will be a student dance performance in the Neuhoff Sculpture Court, in front of the Mead Art Museum, beginning at 4 p.m. After the conversation, a free public reception for the artist will be held in the museum, starting at 6 p.m.
Born in Missouri in 1959, Cave studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and trained with the celebrated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Presently on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cave makes clothing, fiber-based sculptures, collages and installations. Best known are his joyful and otherworldly "Soundsuits," three of which are featured in the Mead's special exhibition Exotic Muses: Dancers by Robert Henri and Nick Cave, which is on view until July 8. Created as costumes for dancers to wear in performances, Cave's suits enjoy parallel lives as fantastic figurative sculptures that collapse boundaries between life and art. His work alludes to African ceremonial masks and costumes, which similarly transform their wearers' identities by facilitating movement into other realms of being.
Sylla teaches African, Brazilian and Haitian dance for the Five Colleges. She has studied African dance in Guinea, Senegal, the Gambia, the Casamance, Brazil, Haiti and Puerto Rico. Since 1987, she has taught and performed throughout the United States at venues including Jacob's Pillow; the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y.; and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockton, Mass. Sylla is director of Bamidele Dancers and Drummers.
"Nick Cave's visit to campus on April 27 will be the capstone event of the museum's spring programming," remarked the Mead's Director and Chief Curator Elizabeth E. Barker. "I invite everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to hear the artist discuss his work and to witness his extraordinary creations in Exotic Muses."
The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. The museum and its gift shop-café are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term. For more information, please visit www.amherst.edu/mead or call 413/542-2335.
Image credits: James Prinz, Nick Cave, 2010, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Nick Cave, Soundsuits, 2010-2011, mixed media, Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson.