Crystal Bridges 2022 Exhibitions Will Explore Fashion, Architecture and Black Culture in the South

  • June 16, 2021 18:00

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Teri Greeves, Abstraction: Kiowa by Design, 2014, beads on canvas high - heeled sneakers, 11 1/2 x 10 x 4 in. each. Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photo: Stephen Lang.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the 2022 temporary exhibition schedule which includes the museum’s first fashion exhibition, Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour, its first architecture exhibition, Architecture at Home, and The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The museum also announces the return of North Forest Lights this fall for a third season at Crystal Bridges.

“We look forward to the significant firsts in our 2022 program and celebrate the fact that these exhibitions dynamically expand our exploration of American art and architecture,” said Austen Barron Bailly, chief curator. “Examining the innovative images and sounds of Black culture in the American South and the ingenuity of American fashion reveals the relevance and influence worldwide of American artists and designers of all backgrounds. With Architecture at Home, we are eager to make the themes of contemporary American architecture as accessible to audiences as the subjects of our art exhibitions have become at Crystal Bridges.”


“In 2022, we’re continuing to push ourselves to bring new art experiences to our visitors and community through groundbreaking exhibitions,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer. “We are excited about the ways in which the art and themes of The Dirty South and Fashioning America can inspire audiences in the galleries and beyond. In addition to art and nature, architecture is a core pillar of our offerings at Crystal Bridges, and we look forward to joining the dialogue around sustainable housing through Architecture at Home.”

Bisa Butler (American, born 1973) Basin Street Blues , 2014 Cotton denim Courtesy Claire Oliver and Ian Rubinstein Image: © Bisa Butler, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery, New York

2022 Exhibition Lineup

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse

March 12 to July 25, 2022

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, examines southern aesthetic and musical traditions of early twentieth-century Black culture, influences now common throughout the American South and contemporary American art and culture.

In an immersive experience that engages multiple senses, The Dirty South spotlights the southern landscape through its musical heritage, spiritual complexity, and regional swagger. The exhibition features works of sculpture, paintings, works on paper, assemblage, textiles, and music as well as ephemera from music culture, including instruments, music videos, costumes, lyrics, and personal effects. Ultimately, The Dirty South creates an engaging opportunity to experience a deeper understanding of the African American South and its undeniable imprint on the history of American art. 

This exhibition explores the relationship between music and visual art in Black southern expression from 1920-2020, highlighting a narrative of persistence and power. The sonic impulse is present in all musical genres including spirituals and gospel music to jazz, rhythm and blues to soul and funk through to the rise of southern hip-hop—a genre that gave new meaning to the term “dirty south.” Artists like Sister Gertrude Morgan, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Sun Ra, and CeeLo Green are featured through sound and personal effects. The evolution of these musical forms also emerges in material culture featured in the exhibition including a SLAB, grillz, and stage costumes. An intergenerational group of visual artists including Beverly Buchanan, Alma Thomas, Bethany Collins, Minnie Evans, Kara Walker, Bill Traylor, Rita Mae Pettway, Sanford Biggers, Kerry James Marshall, Elizabeth Catlett and many more are placed in dialogue with one another, weaving academically trained artists with “intuitive intellectuals,” or folk artists. The intersections enable viewers to see the varied approaches to material as well as a broad range of visual art expressions shaped across time and geography.

Lisa Perry , Roy Lichtenstein “No Thank You” Dress, 2011. Silk. Courtesy of Lisa Perry.

The Dirty South is currently on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from May 22 to September 6, 2021. It will then travel to a second venue before arriving at Crystal Bridges. 

Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour

September 10, 2022 to January 30, 2023

Cowboy boots. Bathing suits. Sneakers. Hollywood gowns. Denim jeans. Zoot suits. Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour is Crystal Bridges’ first exhibition dedicated to fashion and the first to present American fashion as a powerful emblem of global visual culture, amplified by movies, television, red carpets, and social media. From dresses worn by First Ladies to art-inspired garments to iconic fashion moments that defined a generation, Fashioning America conveys uniquely American expressions of innovation, highlights the compelling stories of both designers and wearers that center on opportunity and self-invention, and amplifies the voices of those who are often left out of dominant fashion narratives.

To underscore the influence of media, Fashioning America offers a dynamic interaction between video, imagery, and approximately 90 garments and accessories selected from across two centuries of fashion. The exhibition emphasizes the work of designers who immigrated to America, Native American and Black designers, as well as iconic fashion brands and their impact on visual culture in every decade. This sweeping presentation conveys how American fashion and its contributions reflect the American spirit of ingenuity on the national and world stages.

Fashioning America is organized by Crystal Bridges and curated by guest curator Michelle Tolini Finamore, PhD, a leading fashion curator and historian. 

After its run at Crystal Bridges, the exhibition will travel to two additional venues.

Architecture at Home

May 7 to November 7, 2022

Architecture at Home, Crystal Bridges’ first architecture exhibition, brings together five prototypes for homes to spark a dialogue about contemporary housing. Through research, interviews, and innovative thinking, five architecture firms based across the Americas designed and fabricated 500 square-foot prototypes for a contemporary house to be displayed in the exhibition. Overall, this exhibition helps us better understand how architecture affects our lives, determine what makes a house a home, and celebrate the artistry in building and shelter.

"Architecture at Home" features five architecture firms, including LEVENBETTS, Stella Betts and David Levin

Exhibited along the Orchard Trail on the museum’s grounds, and anchored by R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, a prototype for an experimental home, the forms and materials of the five structures articulate the many ways in which we could live. Visitors will be able to enter and explore these immersive, domestic prototypes. Interpretive elements will focus on use of materials, scale, form, light, and interaction with the landscape. Additional information, delivered in digital and physical methods alongside the structures, will explore the architects’ creative process, real-world barriers and opportunities, community stories that articulate the meaning of home, and the potential for the prototypes to become actual housing.

The five architecture firms participating in the exhibition are Studio SUMO, LEVENBETTS, MUTUO, PPAA (Perez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados), and studio:indigenous. These firms are led by architects from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, and each surveyed the needs, challenges, and opportunities of the Northwest Arkansas community to develop their prototypes.

Crystal Bridges acknowledges the complex and unequal realities of housing and recognizes that the Northwest Arkansas community is not immune to these challenges. Neither the Architecture at Home exhibition nor the museum can single-handedly solve the problems of housing insecurity, sustainability, or access to attainable housing. In creating this exhibition, however, Crystal Bridges seeks to inspire greater awareness of what is possible for housing through research and experimental design. The exhibition is inspired by Fuller’s lifelong mission of making “the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.” With Architecture at Home, Crystal Bridges is eager to join a larger, active, and ongoing conversation around the concept of home and the realities of housing in our backyard and around the globe. The exhibition can draw attention to the serious impact of building on the environment and encourage activism toward enforcing protections and regulations that can make sustainable and attainable housing more accessible.

Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The five architecture firms, selected because of their unique personal stories and professional practice, are working with Crystal Bridges and our larger community to listen and share ideas on how housing can work for more people. Their housing prototypes are ideas—rooted in reality and hope for the future, but with an understanding that in order to succeed, we will have to change how we build, how society understands and values housing, and address the economic realities of materials and regulations. This exhibition utilizes their five solutions to help make change possible. We, you, and the larger community can move closer to a more equitable society through conversation, exchange of ideas, and action steps accelerated by this exhibition.

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