“Testimony,” a term that has roots in both courtrooms and churches, is a fitting title for an art exhibit with themes of gang violence and its consequences. And fittingly, Nashville artist Deneen Coleman-Ruff’s show runs through Friday at The Parthenon, an institution whose heritage is similarly rooted in both democracy and worship.
The centerpiece of her exhibit is a quilt fashioned out of bandannas. With it, the artist uses the language of quilt-making to tell the story of how gang violence is redefining a culture. The traditional red or blue paisley-patterned kerchiefs were originally intended to keep sweat from the brows of cowboys and farmers, but have been co-opted by contemporary gang subcultures to symbolize something altogether different. Joining her quilt is a group of paintings that deal with similar issues of violence and religious absolution.