Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
September 1, 2016 to January 8, 2017

The Nasher Museum presented Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art, which questioned and explored the complex and contested space of the American South. One needs to look no further than literature, cuisine and music to see evidence of the South’s profound influence on American culture, and consequently much of the world. This unprecedented exhibition addresses and complicates the many realities, fantasies and myths that have long captured the public’s imagination about the American South. Presenting a wide range of perspectives, from both within and outside of the region, the exhibition created a composite portrait of southern identity through the work of 60 artists. The art in the exhibition reflects upon and pulls apart the dynamic nature of the South’s social, political and cultural landscape.

Southern Accent is an extensive exploration of southern identity through contemporary art,” said Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art, and co-curator of the exhibition. “The exhibition has been four years in the making, but the timing of Southern Accent is especially meaningful now—in the wake of Charleston, Orlando, Baton Rouge and countless other tragedies, and given the tense social and racial climate during this presidential election year. We’re an art museum, so exhibitions are our platform for starting conversations. I hope Southern Accent can create a space to reimagine the South in new ways and reframe the way we think about the South in contemporary art. At its best, art can help give shape to cultural and social change, promote needed discourse and even help build community.”

Southern Accent traveled to the Speed Art Museum, where it was on view April 29 – October 14, 2017.