Frist offers exhibition insight with iPad gallery guides

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has developed an interactive gallery guide to accompany the exhibition Creation Story: Gee’s Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial, which opened Friday, May 25. The guide is available on the Frist Center’s website for visitors to download free to their iPads and features expanded content on the works included in the exhibition, as well as contextual and historical information on the artists.

Creation Story: Gee’s Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial explores the parallels and intersections in the works of the world-famous Gee’s Bend quilters and the self-taught master of assemblage art, Thornton Dial. Quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, a small rural community southwest of Selma, Alabama, feature scraps of old cloth sewn into sophisticated orchestrations of color and dynamic geometric compositions that have gained them international acclaim. Similarly, Alabama-based artist Thornton Dial repurposes discarded materials to create his vibrant assemblages that weave together memories of his own life with reflections of on universal experiences of struggle and triumph.

Created as an iBook, the interactive gallery guide not only includes the informational text of the printed Creation Story gallery guide, but also features additional resources to help visitors gain an in-depth understanding of the Gee’s Bend quilters and Thornton Dial. Interactive gallery guide users will be able to zoom in on images of various artworks, view archival photographs of the Gee’s Bend community, watch videos about Thornton Dial’s artistic practice and more without ever navigating away from the gallery guide page.

“We are always looking for ways to offer additional portals for understanding to provide a richer experience for our visitors,” says Susan Edwards, executive director of the Frist Center. “The interactive gallery guide is a wonderful way to harness the capabilities of new media and expand the way in which our visitors experience an exhibition. It’s something they can use prior to visiting to give them a foretaste of the exhibition’s content, while they’re in the galleries as they contemplate the artwork, or even after they’ve left the building and realize there’s something they wanted to know more about.”

“While the exhibition itself is rich with beauty and meaning, the astonishing stories of the lives and works of both the Gee’s Bend quilters and Thornton Dial can be told more completely in this interactive gallery guide,” reflects Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. “The guide will allow us to provide our visitors with a deeper sense of the artists—who they are, where they come from, and why they are moved to create.”

The Frist Center collaborated with Amanda McCadams of Digital Wonder Cabinet to develop the interactive gallery guide. The gallery guide is available for free download from the Frist Center’s website, under the “Resources” header. 

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