Last night I attended the opening reception of a truly inspiring show at the National Academy Museum. Entitled “Seismic Shifts: 10 Visionaries in Contemporary Art and Architecture,” it demonstrates the commitment of this almost 200-year-old institution to contemporary art and design, with work of some of the seminal figures of American art today. All works on display challenges disciplinary boundaries and address social, environmental, racial, and even political issues.
I love seeing the work of Nick Cave’s, the former dancer (with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) and the sensational artist included. He is showing three of his wearable Soundsuits that are so much more than just the whimsical, labor-intensive, colorful, crafted costumes they appear to be. Extravagant and provocative, each represents Cave’s hybrid sculpture mask the body, concealing race, gender, and age, evoking the regional African-American vernacular tradition of Indian suits for mardi Gras.