With its history of intellectuals, political agitators and artistic visionaries, it’s no surprise that Atlanta is today home to many museums, galleries and other cultural venues, many of which play host to a diverse programme of exhibitions throughout the year.
Famously hilly Atlanta has had its fair share of ups and downs over the decades, but in recent years has experienced a period of significant and sustained growth – both in its population size and its cultural and entertainment offerings. If you’re visiting the city over the coming weeks and months, we’ve picked out 10 of the best exhibitions taking place here throughout springtime 2021.
Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design
Curated by Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, this exhibition features designs from nearly four decades of her career that has included creating costumes for African-American-centric films such as Black Panther, Selma, and Do the Right Thing. More than 60 costumes, as well as sketches and ephemera illustrating the in-depth historical research and design process that underpinned each project, are showcased. Highlights include garments worn by silver screen luminaries such as Angela Bassett, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosie Perez, and Forest Whitaker. The exhibit is open Thursdays to Sundays. For tickets and more info, go to chapelsistine.com.
Scad Fash Museum of Fashion, Savannah College of Art and Design, 1600 Peachtree Road / Through 12 September 2021
Departure by Charly Palmer is a retrospective of 30 years of art infused with experience, an identity crisis, divided states, eminent domain, introversion, and a deepening appreciation for Black beauty. He is currently exploring the multiple meanings of departure from the time of the Middle Passage, through the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, up until now. What does that mean for Black people, and what does it mean for him personally as he embarks on a new and unexpected direction to discover what’s next. The exhibition will be a bridge between his older work and new art, and will include a soundscape, mixed media, and sculptural elements.
Hammonds House Museum, 503 Peeples Street / 23 April – 25 July 2021
Our Good Earth: Rural Life and American Art
American’s national identity has always been deeply interwoven with its rural heritage. Indeed, the country’s nascent years were heavily reliant on overpowering nature, whether it be clearing forests, mining resources or developing land. The image of the yeoman farmer remains an indelible feature of America’s history, even as mass urbanisation took hold and country life diminished in practical importance. This exhibition serves to celebrate that farmer and his contemporaries through a vast assortment of prints, drawings, and photographs that serve to tell a complex and compelling story of American pastoral life.
High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street / 17 April – 1 August 2021
Featuring artwork by Lea Basille Lazarus, Chad Heyward, and Andrea Peterson, this exhibition is the latest to tell the story of the story of paper and papermaking. Each artist uses handmade paper, and the process of making it, to consider one’s relationship to the environment and the world around us. From Basille Lazarus’s structures representing community, to the manipulated colours and pulps produced by Chad Heyward, to the bright abstracts of Andrea Peterson inspired by the land she sees daily, visitors will be encouraged to investigate how they relate to their community and the places they occupy.
Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, 500 10th Street / 6 May-6 August 2021
Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place
This stunning exhibition explores the long history, vast geographic expanse, and remarkable diversity of works of art in the Islamic world. It features more than 100 works spanning multiple media forms, from carpets, costumes and jewellery to glassware, metalworks, and photographs. Contemporary works from artists Rachid Koraichi and Victor Ekpuk, and calligrapher Hassan Massoudy are shown alongside works from as early as the 9th-century. Stand-out exhibits include dazzling lusterware from Iran and Spain, delicate prayer rugs from Turkey and India, and a pair of early-20th-century Egyptian applique tent hangings.
Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 571 South Kilgo Circle / Through 9 May 2021
Of Care and Destruction
Taking place as part of the 2021 Atlanta Biennial, this exhibition addresses the deep vernacular traditions at work in the art of the Southeast while simultaneously confronting the social issues caused by COVID-19 and the essential role artists play in our understanding them. It brings together the work of over thirty emerging and established artists living, working and exhibiting in the region, spanning several art forms including painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, video, and photography, all serving to provide a bold snapshot of contemporary art in a time of great grief, loss, isolation, and struggle.
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 535 Means Street / Through 1 August 2021
Pax Tokugawa: The Japanese Collections of OUMA
This exhibition illustrates the full breadth of Japanese art within the permanent collection of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. With a focus on art of the Edo period of 1603-1867 – a time of growth, peace, and stability under the last traditional shogunate founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu – the majority of the art on show is drawn from the extensive porcelain collection of the late John Lesh Jacobs. Other key works of Japanese sculpture, paintings, and masterful 19th century Japanese woodblock prints are also featured.
Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, NE Lowry, Hall, 3rd Floor, Brookhaven / 2 April – 12 July 2021
Records of Life
Exploring the ways that people organise and make sense of their thoughts, experiences, and lives, this exhibition uses the written records of Harrison Elliott, a paper historian active in the first half of the 20th century, to dive in to the methods people apply to make information useful to themselves and to others. Through notebooks, letters, calendars, and other ephemera, the exhibit explores how information is sorted and shared over time.
Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, 500 10th Street / Through 16 April 2021
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel
One of the world’s most iconic tourist landmarks, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is celebrated at this internationally acclaimed touring exhibition which is currently on display at Atlanta’s Westside Cultural Arts Center through to the tail-end of spring. The exhibition features awe-inspiring reproductions of Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes displayed in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, highlighting 34 reproductions mostly created in their original size, allowing visitors to observe all the intricate details of these masterpieces.
Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th Street / Through 23 May 2021
Acclaimed European photographer Cig Harvey, is known for her works exploring the narratives deeply rooted in the natural environment and familial relationships. Spanning photography, video, mixed media and the written word, this exhibition delves deep into the physical and emotional boundaries of the senses and the changing seasons, celebrating the artists’ unique and contemplative approach to finding beauty in even the most mundane.
Jackson Fine Art, 3115 East Shadowlawn Avenue / Through 15 May