Bethany Collins and Her Art

During my trip to Tennessee I visited the Frist Art Museum. While there I saw many different art pieces and galleries, but my favorite was by Bethany Collins. Her art was focused on language, and all that it can say.

Her version of The Odyssey 

One of her pieces was a full hand written version of the Odyssey in strange unreadable calligraphy. Even though you could not read most of the page she left out one sentence on each line letting only some of the story come through.

Unreadable letters

Her second piece that I saw focused on civil rights. Collins had taken letters that were written by slaves after the war looking for the families. She used an ink pressing technique that made each of the letters almost unreadable unless you focused extremely hard. The third one of her pieces that made an impression on me was her wallpaper. Bethany Collins was born and raised in Montgomery Alabama. She spent most of her life through college in Southern states like Alabama and Georgia. Now later in her life she lives in Chicago and before that lived in New York. Because of her ties to Alabama and the South she wanted to put her life in the North and her life in the South together. In her wallpaper piece she has plants and flowers from Alabama mixed with ones from Chicago and New York. She describes this as “her relationship with the region of her upbringing-like her connection to the country as a whole.”


In the final piece displayed at the Frist was the Evensong. After the 2016 election Collins researched many past texts and poetry to help herself understand the present. During this she came across two famous songs “Amazing Grace” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” While researching these two songs she found many different versions that had been slightly changed lyrically while still going on the same melody. The small changes in the lyrics were there to produce different political opinions that the songs were not originally made to say. Because of this she took a written copy of the star spangled banner and burned out the notes with a laser. This made all of the lyrics readable while the notes were incomprehensible. Her final piece shows how there are different ways to show patriotism and “a reminder that as a country, we have never reached an absolute consensus on what it means to be an American.”

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