By popular vote, High acquires film by Shirin Neshat, African-American folk art

Chosen by popular vote at its annual Collectors Evening, the High Museum has added a 2001 film by Shirin Nashat and a 20th-century work of African-American folk art to its permanent collection

At the High Museum’s annual Collectors Evening held this year on October 3, participants voted on new works to add to the High’s permanent collection.

At the popular gala event each year, High curators representing different departments of the museum each propose a work that they feel will make a strong addition to the High’s collection. Attendees listen to the proposals and than have the opportunity to vote for their favorite works of art. The most popular choice is then selected for acquisition.

Since its inception in 2010, Collectors Evening attendees have selected a total of 28 acquisitions for the Museum’s collection, including works by Donald Locke, Nandipha Mntambo, and Vik Muniz.

The winners this year? There were two:

Shirin Neshat (Iranian, born 1957), Possessed, 2001, 16mm and 35mm film transferred to digital video, 13:01, with sound. (Courtesy the artist/High Museum)

Renowned Iranian-born, New York-based artist Shirin Neshat’s 2001 film Possessed, which was proposed by Modern and Contemporary Art Curator Michael Rooks and Photography Curator Sarah Kennel, won enough votes to be added to the collection.  The curators say the film, which shows a distraught woman as she roams the streets of a walled city without a traditional Islamic veil, will greatly strengthen the Museum’s growing collection of time-based media.

The work was the last available in an edition of six, and curators say it will anchor the next rotation on the Skyway Level of the Anne Cox Chambers Wing featuring works exclusively by women, in celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.

Unidentified Artist, Barbershop Stand and Shelf, ca. 1940–1950, Polychromed wood and metal, 49 1/2 x 26 x 13 inches. (Courtesy High Museum)

Chief Curator Kevin Tucker and Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art Katie Jentleson proposed this brightly colored, hand-carved barbershop stand, an example of Southern vernacular furniture with ties to both folk and decorative arts.

The set consists of a chest of idiosyncratically fashioned drawers and a freestanding shelf that once were used to hold haircutting and shaving implements in a West Virginia barbershop. They are constructed from reused pieces of old furniture, including chair rods and drawers from other chests. The unidentified artist added bands of v-notched wood and finished the set with rich shades of red, light blue, mustard yellow, and black paint.

The curators pointed out that the acquisition will broaden the scope of wooden sculptures and decorative arts in the collection, serving as a strong counterpoint to both elite and vernacular examples of decorative art pieces at the High.


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