Alumni On View: Nick Cave “Hiding In Plain Sight” at the Austin Museum of Art

My birthday wish this year was to see Nick Cave’s exhibition in my hometown. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed.


Hiding in Plain Sight features a selection of Cave’s spectacular Soundsuits. The Soundsuits stand idly on display throughout AMOA’s first floor, tall and faceless. As sculpture they seem odd and other worldly. Their ornate surfaces are an assemblage of infatuating textures such as mother-of-pearl buttons, sequins, velvet, bundled twigs, and even fleece blankets featuring Disney characters collected from thrift stores. The initial motivation for creating the first Soundsuit evolved from Cave’s feelings  of being rejected because of his identity and race, and the desire to mask and reinvent himself. The Soundsuits transform Cave into another being and elevate the discarded materials used to create them.


The name “Soundsuits” refers to the noise the garments make when they are animated by a human performer. Cave was a dancer with the celebrated Alvin Ailey Dance Company during his time as a student both in Kansas City and New York City. Two videos are also featured in the exhibition. The Soundsuits are truly amazing in action and reflect his fascination with global cultures and carnivals.  It must have been the night of a lifetime to see them come to life at KCAI’s 125th Anniversary Gala.

I find Nick Cave to be one of KCAI’s  most fascinating alumni. He is a fine artist with an interdisciplinary practice of sculpture, costuming, and performance who continually collaborates with the community to make all of his projects possible. Cave often works with different educational institutions to get students involved in the construction and new choreography for the Soundsuits. He travels the world for  inspiration, exhibitions and commissions including places like New York, Miami, Italy, Hong Kong and France. Cave’s work mused the collections of many fashion designers and was  featured in the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Bizarre and  2010 issue of  Vogue Magazine. He is the Chair of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago  fashion program and keeps his studio workshop on the South-side of Chicago.


Hiding in Plain Sight, is on view at the Austin Museum of Art’s Arthouse through February 24th.

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