Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness

Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness

About the Exhibit

“Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness” is a tribute to unsung heroes of Tennessee’s history. Middle Tennessee artists Bernice Davidson, Jemma Perran, and Michael McBride respond to their stories through art, in order to carry them forward. Some of the unsung heroes whose stories are featured include lawyer Z. Alexander Looby, Nanye’hi (Nancy Ward), and Elias, Mariah, and Matilda Polk who were all enslaved by the Polk family. 

See the Exhibit

This temporary exhibition at Polk Presidential Hall opens in March 2024 and runs until October. Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of regular and group admission rates. REACH OUT NOW to schedule a group tour.

Featured Artists

Bernice Davidson is a white woman with short, wavy, white hair and red-rimmed glasses. She is standing in front of a window.

Bernice Davidson

Artist Bernice Davidson has made it her mission in life to make art that brings communities together to surmount race, age and economic barriers. Her subjects are chosen to further the discussion of injustice, civil rights and our connection to earth. Researching, and creating art about people who have done amazing things, but have been left out of the history books, has been a focus and inspiration for her for many years. Her energy, vision and creativity have made this exhibition possible.

Headshot of Jemma Perran, and African-American woman in a navy blue shirt and white sweater. Her hair is tied with a multicolored scarf. She is standing in front of a pink and yellow sunset.

Jemma Perran

Jemma Perran has always been an “outside artist” because art has not been her sole career. She considers art to be something she found in her “inside world” and it is her life’s therapy. It brings her peace, comfort, healing and reflection. Perran has been a hospice chaplain and counselor for more than 29 years and her art has brought her peace throughout her time in these roles. She finds symbols in found objects and feels passionate about recycling or upcycling materials into her art work. The Adinkra symbols, featured in Perran’s work in this exhibition, struck a personal chord with her and she has used them intuitively, without knowing the full history and meaning behind each symbol. These pieces are a response to the symbols, using found objects, resin and recycled window frames.

Michael McBride is an African American man. He is pictured here in a green and white patterned shirt, facing away from the camera, working on a painting.

Michael McBride

Michael J. McBride, a native Tennessean, earned his undergraduate degree in art, from Tennessee State University and his graduate degree in painting from Illinois State University. He was a former Adjunct faculty at Watkins College of Art and Design and Film school and McBride has served curator of the Hiram V. Gordon Gallery at Tennessee State University from 1995 – 2000. Michael is a former member of the Board of Trustees for the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. A member of The Arts in the Airport Board, and the South Arts southern artist registry. McBride’s work is included in both private and corporate collections in the US and abroad.

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Thank You!

"Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness" is funded in part through a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

© 2024 President James K. Polk Home and Museum

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