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Elisa Harkins’ ‘Teach me a Song’ coming to Clarksville’s contemporary art gallery

By: Zoe Farren October 20, 2023

Elisa Harkins.
Elisa Harkins.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University (APSU), with help from the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA), has showcased many different exhibitions in The New Gallery, but Elisa Harkins is one artist who will surely entice visitors with “Teach Me a Song,” running from Oct. 30 – Dec. 8. 

Harkins is a Native American (Cherokee/Muscogee) artist and composer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She focuses on translation, language preservation and indigenous musicology. Her work uses the Cherokee and Mvskoke languages over electronic music, with sculpture and the physical body as her tools. 

"Teach Me a Song” is titled after one of Harkins’ ongoing projects, where she asks Indigenous friends to teach her a song. APSU’s exhibition will include video, found object sculptures and screen-printed score notations along with Muscogee (Creek) and other Indigenous traditions. 

Harkins received her Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College, Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts from CalArts. Her education continued at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has also exhibited her work at Crystal Bridges, documenta 14, The Hammer Museum, The Heard Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her performances and music have also landed her a role as a DJ of Mvhayv  Radio, an Indigenous radio show in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Stay tuned for more information on Harkins’ public artist lecture on Nov. 14 and public performance on Nov. 15, both at 6 p.m. in The New Gallery. Follow-up details will be provided in the coming weeks. The exhibition and events are free and open to the public. All ages are welcome. 

“Teach Me a Song” is organized in collaboration with the Crisp Ellert Art Museum at Flagler College (St. Augustine, Florida) and the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, College of Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina) where the exhibition will run in Spring 2024. 

For more on this lecture, contact Michael Dickins, curator and director of The New Gallery, at dickinsm@apsu.edu. For information on future events and exhibits, visit: https://www.apsu.edu/art-design/thenewgallery/. 

About The New Gallery: 

The New Gallery is Austin Peay State University's 1,500-square-foot white cube contemporary art gallery operated by the Department of Art+Design. The New Gallery brings in nationally and internationally recognized contemporary artists for exhibitions, lectures, workshops, class visits and studio visits with students. 

The New Gallery features three to five curated exhibitions and one juried student exhibition per academic year. The exhibitions and all corresponding programming are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday and follow Austin Peay’s academic calendar and inclement weather policy. Curator-guided tours of exhibitions are available per request.