Untitled Film Still #19, by Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #19, by Cindy Sherman
Courtesy of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

Vacillate Between "Belief + Doubt" at NSU's Latest Exhibition

You know an art exhibit is powerful when it transforms space into a stage for dialogue and communication — and that's exactly what NSU Art Museum's latest exhibit promises to do.

"Belief + Doubt: Selections From the Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz Collection" is a snapshot of contemporary art from the 1990s to present day. The collection particularly concentrates on work by women and multicultural creatives — including African-Americans, Latin Americans, and South Floridians — offering visitors the chance to see and study the works of the artists' time, says Bonnie Clearwater, the museum's director and chief curator.

The exhibit features works by more than 60 artists, including Kara Walker, Mickalene Thomas, Tracey Emin, Kiki Smith, Jennifer Steinkamp, Amy Sillman, and Teresita Fernandez. A piece by conceptual artist Barbara Kruger — Belief + Doubt = Sanity, which is part of the collection — inspired the show's title.

"This bold phrase prescribes an equation for a balanced life in which a dose of skepticism is the antidote to the inexplicable mysteries of life," Clearwater explains. In other words, humans want to believe, but doing so without questioning an aspect of their belief only creates a fantasy. Thus, a hint of doubt is necessary to balance out an otherwise absolute conviction that one might take for granted.

"It also succinctly describes Bishop Good and Horvitz's philosophical outlook," Clearwater says, "as both are skeptical of easy answers, and they collect work by contemporary artists with this in mind."

Two of South Florida's most prominent and active arts advocates and philanthropists, Bishop Good and Horvitz put together a collection that challenges the viewer to not only think outside the image but also look at it and question things in a much bigger way.

Perhaps it's this notion that guided Clearwater when selecting the featured works, a process she says is based on showing how contemporary artists balance reason and imagination in the creation of their work.

"This is art that is meant to instruct viewers by raising their awareness to the power of images to shape perception," she says. "It encourages viewers to remove their blindfolds and exercise their ability to reason in order to truly see."

Take, for example, Untitled Film Still #19, part of Cindy Sherman's black-and-white series Film Stills, in which she posed as various female types. According to Clearwater, Sherman used photography to explore the underlying sexism in Hollywood films and how it shapes identity. Untitled Film Still #19 appears to depict what Clearwater describes as an anxious woman in distress.

Intrigued? Don't miss the opening preview and reception this Thursday, August 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will run through January 22, 2017. You'll no doubt walk away with a new perspective. Admission is free for museum members and $10 for nonmembers. RSVP for opening night by visiting nova.edu, emailing moareservations@moafl.org, or calling 954-262-0258.


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