Cranbrook Academy of Arts graduate and well-known artist Nick Cave will have a solo exhibit at the Bloomfield Hills Academy, including a collection of about 30 wearable fabric sculptures, along with other sculptures and his video work. The exhibit opens Saturday.The 7,000 square foot exhibit, Here Hear, will feature 11 new soundsuits that are on display for the first time. His soundsuits are life-sized, and made of metal, plastic, fabric, hair, and objects. Another gallery will house his artwork and sculptures, including a new work inspired by Trayvon Martin.
This weekend marks the beginning of a major exhibition of work by Nick Cave at Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, a small town just north of Detroit. It’s a homecoming for the artist, who studied at Cranbook’s art academy in the 1980s and still feels a connection to both school and city. “Detroit played a critical role in my education,” he says. “It provided me a very radical mind-set, the city provided the soul.”But when Laura Mott, curator of contemporary art and design for the museum, invited Cave to return to his alma mater for a solo exhibition, he agreed with one condition. “I’ll only do it if I can do some outreach work.”
Missouri-born, Chicago-based artist Nick Cave has made a name for himself with his colorful "Soundsuits" — ornate, wearable sculptures that have been exhibited as standalone art objects and costumed dance performances. Lately, he's partnered with his alma mater the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Cave is an '89 graduate of their master's program) to bring performances around the metro Detroit area. We caught up by phone with Cave from his Chicago studio to learn more.
When Nick Cave arrived at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1987, he was the only African American in his class. He felt as out of place on the idyllic suburban campus in Bloomfield Hills as a penguin on the prairie.Cave escaped as often as he could to Detroit, where he was able to reaffirm his cultural identity within the rich texture of black life in the city, especially the dance and music scenes."That was the first time I had to look at myself as a black male, and it was a struggle to find my place," said the 56-year-old Chicago-based artist. "Detroit allowed Cranbrook to work for me, to find a balance."
A WRITHING CENTIPEDE WROUGHT in hammered brass and a gold necklace evoking the decayed, wilted sepals of a plant are among the jewelry designs on view in the Cranbrook Art Museum’s exhibition Bent, Cast, and Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia. To celebrate the centennial of the artist’s birth, the institution has organized the first museum exhibition devoted exclusively to his jewelry.
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“Detroit was such a pivotal part of my time at school,” says the artist Nick Cave who attended Cranbrook in nearby Bloomfield Hills. When his alma mater approached him to do exhibition there, he told them, “I would only do the show if I could do some work in Detroit. They were really on board.” The show is a monumental homecoming for the sculptor who now lives in Chicago. Partnering with a local high school, dance academies and grass roots non-profits, Cave dreamt up an entire summer of programming, which will activate seemingly every corner of the city with vibrant performances. “We’re bringing the work to Detroit, but hiring the city to build the project,” explains Cave.
When the Cranbrook Art Museum asked to host his inaugural solo outing in Michigan, the artist and dancer — and Cranbrook Academy of Art alum — Nick Cave agreed, on one condition: “I said, I will only do it if I can do work in Detroit.” For the uninitiated, the school’s campus sits about 20 miles away from the downtown area, Cave’s first lesson upon his arrival in the late ’80s. “Girl, thank God for the city,” he says. “I got here and I was the sole black person, so Detroit saved my life. I became connected to this circle of creative people.” He recalls a fearlessness to the way they came together and fed off of one another. “I don’t know if I could have done Cranbrook without Detroit,” he avers. “That’s why this is so important; I’m reconnecting with the city that really allowed me to create a balance in my higher education.”
“Thank God for Detroit,” exclaims Nick Cave as he lays out the plans and inspiration for his takeover of the City. His trademark Soundsuits have already invaded Eastern Market, the Michigan Assembly Plant and the Fisher Building for photo shoots and promotional activities, with the main event, Nick Cave: Here Hear, opening to the public this weekend at Cranbrook Art Museum. But Cave’s art and community events transcend far beyond Cranbrook’s Bloomfield Hills environs, into Detroit’s Riverfront and Brightmoor neighborhood, for an interactive, participatory exhibition unlike any the museum has produced.
A few months ago, artist Nick Cave caused a stir of excitement when he returned to his native Detroit to photograph a series of dramatic art installations.Now, his fans will finally be able to see the results of that effort when his exhibition “Nick Cave: Here Hear” opens at Cranbrook Art Museum this weekend.Cave, a noted sculptor and performance artist, graduated from Cranbrook Art Academy in 1989. In March, he returned to his alma mater to start his photo tour of metro Detroit, which included stops in the Brightmoor neighborhood, Mexicantown and Eastern Market, along with nine other places.
Supported by a stack of storage boxes in Shed 5 of Detroit’s Eastern Market one humid morning, the artist Nick Cave steps gingerly into a suit of clipped twigs, one leg at a time. Crouching at his feet, two assistants adjust the jagged hem of each trouser leg while Bob Faust, Cave’s studio director and right-hand man, lifts the waist and draws the suspenders tightly across his chest. Struggling to co-ordinate their movements, the team of three hauls the garment’s top half — a towering assemblage of sticks weighing more than 50lb — above Cave’s head, lowering it over his face and settling it on his shoulders. Faust takes his hand and leads him outside; like a splintery Chewbacca, Cave lumbers blindly through rows of poppies to a small grove of potted pines, the suit’s improbable wooden surface clacking as he moves.
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