Stanford’s Anderson Collection hosts Nick Cave exhibition

A new exhibition at the Anderson Collection at Stanford University – Nick Cave – challenges the boundaries between multiple artistic and creative disciplines.

When the exhibition Nick Cave opens at the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, visitors will encounter the intersection of visual art and performance in a collection of Cave’s Soundsuits, videos and a documentary film.

The exhibition opens Sept. 14 and runs through Aug. 14, 2017. The Anderson Collection is located at 314 Lomita Drive on campus. The works in the Nick Cave exhibition are on loan from the Anderson family, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and private collectors.

Genre-crossing works

Cave, born in Missouri and now based in Chicago, is the director of the graduate fashion program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is known for his Soundsuits, which are full-body-sized sculptures that are sometimes worn as costumes and performed in, and are made of everything from collected and repurposed buttons to human hair, beaded baskets, sequins and the occasional sock monkey. Often created in response to current events, they conceal the wearer’s identity, leaving the viewer with no indication of race, gender or age.

“Cave’s work blurs the boundaries between multiple disciplines,” said Jason Linetzky, director of the Anderson Collection. “An encounter with his Soundsuits inspires the viewer to reconsider the meaning and value of collected objects, transporting us between Cave’s invention and our memory; between sculpture, costume and dance, and the tangible and ephemeral.”

Linetzky credits the Anderson family’s ongoing commitment to collection sharing and their lead loan of three Soundsuits as the inspiration for this exhibition.

“We are thrilled to be engaging the Stanford community and museum visitors with this stimulating and thought-provoking contemporary exhibition,” he said.

Cave challenges conventions on what it means to be a visual artist, a performer, a crafter and an educator. His work invites contemplation on identity, visual culture and performance. Using visual performance as a springboard, the Anderson Collection will present public programs, student engagement opportunities and direct interaction with the artistic practice and concepts incorporated into Cave’s work.

Through Cave’s genre-crossing works, audiences and visitors will be able to imagine what it means to be a performer in a visual arts space with events and happenings throughout the year.

Art in new perspectives

Public programs supporting the exhibition in the fall include pop-up family activities in Studio 2 and a student-created mobile art studio parked on the Anderson Collection grounds. Children and adults will have the opportunity to create their own Soundsuits and explore how performance can enhance their creations.

During Parents’ Weekend in the winter quarter, the Anderson Collection Student Advisory Board, made up of 10 graduate and undergraduate students from across the university, will offer a night of engagement and exploration. This student-run program, an annual event since the museum’s opening in 2014, will provide students with a platform to create and curate their own live programming for this well-attended weekend event. Responding to the Anderson Collection’s permanent collection of works as well as those by Cave, the program will engage parents and students in the process of actively seeing and experiencing the arts at the Anderson Collection.

In the spring, Stanford students will explore the history, evolution and practice of performance art in both traditional and nontraditional performance spaces in the course Performance StratLab: Visual and Live Performance in Art Space. The course will be taught by Aleta Hayes, lecturer in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, and Aimee Shapiro, director of programming and engagement at the Anderson Collection.

Shapiro views Cave’s work as an extraordinary teaching tool.

“Nick gives us an opportunity to see art with a new perspective,” she said. “He is not only a craftsman but also a conceptual visionary, crossing traditional boundaries in academic and gallery-based art spaces. His Soundsuits and his videos are exemplary of what it means to be an artist – not just a visual artist, not just a performer, not just an educator, but also something that encompasses all three. His work and practice can open the eyes of art students, as well as students from across the university, to the endless possibilities of creative expressions.”

Media Contacts

Aimee Shapiro, Anderson Collection: (650) 721-6105,

Robin Wander, University Communications: (650) 724-6184,

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224,