NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Critically-acclaimed Iranian American artist Afruz Amighi’s first monographic museum exhibition, “The Presence of Your Absence Is Everywhere” is on view June 22-Sept. 16 in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery at the Frist Art Museum.
Celebrated for her lyrical transformation of inexpensive materials into ethereal installations and sculptures, Amighi uses light and dark to wondrous effect.
Organized by the Frist Art Museum, the exhibition features Amighi’s work from 2014 to today, a period of intense and prolific output in which the artist has relentlessly pushed herself in new directions. One sculpture and two drawings are being made especially for the exhibition, while two existing installations have never been shown in the United States.
Born in Tehran in 1974, the child of a Jewish American mother and a Zoroastrian Iranian father, Amighi has lived in New York since she was three years old. She studied political science at Barnard College before earning a Master of Fine Arts degree at New York University in 2007. In 2009, she received the Jameel Prize, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s prestigious international award for contemporary art and design inspired by the Islamic tradition. Her work is in the permanent collection of major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum, and has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and in many group shows, such as “Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection” at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, in 2017.
Now living and working in Brooklyn, Amighi uses industrial materials found in her own urban environment. In her architectural sculptures, Amighi illuminates steel, fiberglass mesh, and chains to create intrigue, explore dualities, and mimic the effect of more decadent luxury objects. The exhibition includes Nameless (2014), an installation inspired by medieval Spanish mosques repurposed as churches during the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, and My House, My Tomb (2015), a diptych which explores myths about India’s majestic Taj Mahal.
For her 2017 series No More Disguise, Amighi designed headdresses for a procession of characters, with each one rendered in both a steel sculpture and a graphite drawing plotted on graph paper with precision. Four of the drawings, including Fool’s Headdress, are presented in this exhibition.
The three new works on view include the ambitious sculpture We Wear Chains, which examines the current state of feminism. Four lithe women bear the features of both angels and demons, humans and animals. Bound together with chains—a form of adornment as well as bondage—the women struggle to find a way to advance together.
Inspired by a passage in a letter written by the American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amighi selected the exhibition title “The Presence of Your Absence Is Everywhere” because it eloquently captures the shift in her purview since 2016.
Organized by the Frist Art Museum. Use of the line “The presence of your absence is everywhere” adapted from a letter by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, courtesy of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, Millay Society, millay.org
The Frist Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Friends of Contemporary Art.
Sponsored in part by: SunTrust Foundation
This exhibition is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the Frist Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit www.FristArtMuseum.org.
Ellen Jones Pryor