Appetite For Art: NSU Art Museum

NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale continues to make strides in the art world.

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A VISIONARY: Since becoming NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale’s director and chief curator in 2013, Bonnie Clearwater has pushed to show thought-provoking pieces, as she does in the upcoming Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit.

By Michaela Greer
Portrait By Gary James

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale has been doing quite a bit of talking lately, thanks to Bonnie Clearwater, the museum’s director and chief curator.

“The idea is to allow viewers the opportunity to interact and engage with the artwork,” Clearwater says. “My hope is that people stop and look at each piece to feel a connection and form their own narrative.”

Forming an individual narrative is not a difficult feat when it comes to “American Scene Photography: Martin Z. Margulies Collection,” which is on display until March 22. The exhibit stems from a meticulously selected assemblage of works owned by Margulies, a prominent Miami-based collector who was the recipient of the Whitney Museum’s American Art Award in 2013.

Raw human emotions are spotlighted in this exhibit, which features two key photographers—Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange—whose images of American poverty, working conditions and rural life brought forth social change. These photos give contemporary viewers a chance to connect the pieces to current events and news-making headlines today.

Further into the exhibit, images of ordinary people beckon the viewer closer as they tell stories of the Great Depression, depicted by the facial expressions of Lange’s “Migrant Mother” series, and of the civil rights movement, showcasing the discomfort of diners during a sit-in. The exhibit ends with photographs from the present day, leaving the audience thought-provoked. “I would hope that the viewer engages with the artist’s photographs and tries to understand the time period,”?Clearwater says.

Luckily for eager patrons, from February 26 to May 31, the museum will feature a number of pieces created by phenomenal Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Frida Kahlo, Diego on My Mind (Self Portrait as Tehuana), 1943
Frida Kahlo, Diego on My Mind (Self Portrait as Tehuana), 1943

“It’s been traveling all over the world in places such as Rome and Korea,”?Clearwater says. “It’s really important that we have the Frida exhibit because it helps to bring awareness to 20th-century Mexican art.” The exhibition also serves to assist in the unveiling the museum’s Stanley and Pearl Goodman Center for the Study of Latin American Art, which will be the only of its kind in the region.

One thing is certain: the displays at the museum are vibrant, provocative and truly remarkable. NSU Art Museum is making waves in South Florida’s art world; don’t get left behind the tide.

Originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue.