Since its opening in 1952, the Frye has maintained its dedication to the art and culture of the present through collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. This practice is guided by the example of Museum founders Charles and Emma Frye, who amassed a collection of paintings made within their own lifetimes, often by purchasing works directly from living artists. Over the past twenty years, the Museum has intentionally focused on broadening its holdings of contemporary art to include previously underrepresented identities, perspectives, and forms of expression.
This presentation brings together seven artworks—all acquired in 2019 and on view at the Museum for the first time—by a range of local, national, and international artists: Juventino Aranda, Rokni Haerizadeh, Rose Nestler, Mary Ann Peters, Cauleen Smith, Anthony White, and Ko Kirk Yamahira. Viewed together, they offer an insightful snapshot of the Museum’s curatorial program, as most of these artists have been featured recently in exhibitions at the Frye. Individually, the artworks expand or complicate narratives around mediums and genres such as painting, landscape, and portraiture that have traditionally been associated with the Frye’s Founding Collection of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European and American art.
Employing a range of aesthetic strategies, these works grapple with critical questions; some surface issues of memory and loss related to the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, and migration, while others explore ways that fashion, technology, and media shape how we see ourselves and others. As the Museum approaches its seventieth anniversary in 2022, the addition of these artworks affirms the Frye’s collection as a dynamic cultural resource dedicated to chronicling the ever-evolving nature of artistic production.