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New Frist exhibit pushes imagination

A new exhibit at the First Center for the Visual Arts is forcing artists and patrons to alter the stories they know and face the stories they don’t.

The exhibit, called Fairy Tales, Monsters, and Genetic Imagination, opened last week and is organized by Mark Scala, the Frist Center’s chief curator.

“The artists selected for the exhibition redirect the emotional associations implicit in their sources – pleasure, fear, wonder, curiosity and longing – to works of seductive fantasy and uneasy intrigue,” Scala said in a press release.

The fairy tales part of the exhibit, one of three in total, highlights artists who have manipulated traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes to interpret and critique the stories. Taking the opportunity to reexamine the bedtime stories of their childhood, artists “explore folklore as archetypal expression of subliminal fears and desires,” Scala said.

“Monsters” sinks to the subconscious and explores the monster as something threatening and uncontrollable, whether physical or psychological. These artists take to the imagination and present the monsters in their lives.

The final portion of the exhibition represents genetic imagination, which moves beyond the fantastical and superstitious and depicts the potential horrors of reality. The artists featured in this section explore the new age of scientific developments and genetic engineering, illustrating the scientific experiment gone wrong and hidden away in the storage closet. These artists caution scientific advancement and predict a new type of monster that could redefine human life, Scala said.

For some artists, this portion of the exhibit allowed them experiment with creative possibilities and potential these scientific developments that hold an “exhilarating and promises to take the interaction between art and science to a heretofore unimaginable liberation from biology.”

Fairy Tales, Monsters, and Genetic Imagination is on display at the Frist until May 28.

-Lizzie Davis

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