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COA: The Art of Autumn at the Brooks


Take a walk through suspended metal or have a yoga session while admiring 16th Century paintings. The Brooks Museum's fall collection of artwork and projects have something to please most anyone.

The museum plans to introduce new exhibits and artwork, ranging from a 24-foot tall tree made from recyclable materials to photographs from famous Memphis photographer, Ernest Withers. 

The Brooks Museum's curator of strategic engagement, Andria Lisle, talks about what to expect from the museum for the coming fall season.


Kacky Walton: Columbian artist, Federico Uribe, is participating in the Rotunda Projects and his works are going up on August 29.   

Andria Lisle: Federico is a great, young artist who is a traditionally trained artist but at some point, something in his head clicked and he started to make these marvelous sculptures using everyday objects.  

When you hear about it, it’s a lot different than when you see it. My first inclination was to think that he takes recyclable objects and makes them; what he does is way more repetitive. He will make an object out of flip-flops, but he only uses flip-flops or bullet casings. He is building a 24-foot tall tree that is going to stretch from the main level of the museum, when you walk in, all the way up to the ceiling. The tree is covered in khaki pants and the leaves on the trees are made of socks.  

Walton: His work is figurative and abstract at the same time.  

Lisle: It’s like an illustration out of a children’s book, but also very sophisticated and three-dimensional. This tree will be in our lobby for a whole year.   

Walton: The Brooks has a lot of Ernest Withers photos in the collection. Will you be showing some of those soon?  

Lisle: Ernest Withers was one of Memphis’ first black policemen; he was a civil right photographer. He also photographed the negro league baseball teams that passed through town. He photographed tons of music happenings, whether it was performances, publicity photos, behind the scenes, backstage – all kinds of photographs.   

I was asked to organize a show of his work. We are calling it “A Buck and a Half a Piece.” That is what he would sell his images for.   

Walton: That is going to run from September 1 through March 20 with portraits of musicians in their heyday.   

Lisle: There are promo pictures of Sam Cook, Isaac Hayes, Elvis – just a fascinating look at Ernest’s musical work.   

Walton: One artist is bringing in a traveling exhibit called “Talking Continents.”  

Lisle: This is really a sleeper show. You can talk about it but it’s really going to take people getting in the exhibition space to be transformed by this work. The artist name is Jaume Plensa and he is bringing a series of steel sculptures to Memphis. They are delicate and made of alphabets from multiple languages that are welded together to create these orbs and cloud shapes. Some have figures floating on them.  

They weigh over 2,000 pounds apiece and will be suspended from the ceiling so that you can walk between and underneath them.   

It will be located in our traveling exhibition space, which is on the lower level of the museum, where we just had the African Print Fashion exhibit.   

Walton: This seems like a timely exhibit to happen now.   

Lisle: The artist said that his work is not complete until the view is in the space and it’s very transformative. It makes you contemplate humanity and how we all exist on the same planet.  

What I love about shows like this, there are so many access points. You can come because you are interested in metal work. You could come because you’re interested in language. We will even have a linguist from the University of Memphis give a tour of the exhibition.  

Walton: The artist said in a piece that he asks us to consider the ways in which we are linked together, collective humanity; how global connectedness and communication can be a path to universal tolerance and acceptance. His exhibit will be from September 22 to January 6.   

Lisle: If you are a member you can get a sneak peek on September 21.   

Walton: There is another outside project, called the "Outing Project," which is outdoor paintings. Who is the artist?  

Lisle: That artist is Julien de Casabianca. He is a French artist and he does this large-scale work all around the world. This is part of our Brooks Outside series and one of the coolest things we have done at the museum.   

He already came to Memphis earlier this year. We selected 18 Memphians, of all different kinds of backgrounds. Julien de Casabianca worked with those 18 people to identify living creatures, which he called a “character,” in our paintings. They could be human, they could be an animal. Everyone spent time looking through the museum collection then they selected their character. Then he isolates them from the painting and blows them up. And, then he comes back to Memphis and with those 18 people, they are going to go around the city on a bus and select 22 buildings. And, each of these will be put on a building.   

There will be a community day on Friday, September 28 where Julien de Casabianca will be giving an artist talk at 7 p.m.  

Walton: You have something called “For Freedoms.”  

Lisle: The whole month of October is going to be “For Freedoms” in Memphis. This is an initiative from the artist Hank Willis Thomas, from Houston, Texas. He and some other artist decided that artists need a unified voice in politics. They made an artist pack, called “For Freedoms.” Then different institutions in cities throughout the country can participate on multiple levels.   

The Brooks is going to do a town hall discussion, led by an artist in October. We are also going to put up a billboard that will be up throughout the month. Then, Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College, University of Memphis, and Christain Brothers University are also participating.   

Walton: The Brooks does Yoga on Thursdays, but they are getting more involved with health and wellness.  

Lisle: There are so many reasons to visit the museum. A lot of people get a meditative feeling when they come into a museum. So, we do have pay-what-it's-worth yoga that is every Thursday. But, our educational director has been working with our art therapist to add some other offerings to the calendar. They are about to start a monthly art and wellness program on Friday afternoons. It is geared for adults and you get to spend time in the gallery with some work and you create your own work in response to it. Every month there will be a theme. 


To sign up for an art and wellness class or to learn more information about the Brooks Museum, visit their website at: Brooksmuesum.org

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