An innovative new exhibit that takes visitors on a powerful, multi-sensory journey inspired by African traditions has found a temporary home at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas . 

Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies from Afro-surrealist artist Vince Fraser blends art and technology to create an exhibit that has been described by one viewer as  'truly feeling the experience and power of African culture'. 

The exhibition, which originally debuted at the ARTECHOUSE gallery in Miami, for Art Basel, is part of an initiative by MGM resorts to diversify its fine arts collection and help to amplify underrepresented voices in the arts. 

What you’ll experience at Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies

Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies takes its namesake Aṣẹ (pronounced ah-shay) from the philosophy of the Yoruba people, an ethnic group of West Africa, and means "the power to exact change." 

The exhibit guides the viewer through fourteen distinct sections where they interact with the exhibit and in some cases become part of the artwork itself. 

For example, in one of the most interesting sections, viewers virtually “try on” stylized digital masks, which are assembled around the viewer’s computerized reflection. The experience is meant to simulate the masking traditions that are present in many African and African diasporic cultures. 

A visitor views art at the Ase: Afro Frequencies art exhibition

 In another section of the exhibit, a computerized human form pulses and shifts along with a musical accompaniment before stepping aside to allow the viewer’s form to be digitally transformed instead. 

Spoken word also plays a major part in the exhibition. The voice of African American poet and musician Ursula Rucker whispers out from corners of parts of the exhibition and pulses with intensity in other parts.  A Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award winner, Rucker is known for her poignant, yet powerful work that speaks to similar themes of ancestry, social justice and empowerment. She’s collaborated with a number of artists and musicians in the past including the Roots,  photographer Clarence Williams III and artist Emeka Ogboh.

Who is Vince Fraser? 

This theme of empowerment was in fact part of the impetus for Fraser's creation of the exhibit. Imagery,  interactions and words come together to form a message of empowerment and hope for the future. 

 Fraser himself is a black British artist with nearly twenty years on the scene as an artist and digital illustrator, He is best known for his piece 'We Rise Above,' which he created in response to the Black Lives Matter protests,

Known for his work in the liminal space between art, activism and technology, Fraser has long experimented with things like augmented reality, 3D modeling and image manipulation. Social commentary is also at the forefront of his work, particularly with regard to social justice issues facing the Black community worldwide. 

“I think that the power of an artist is the fact that you can create art and you don't have to say a word,” Fraser says of the exhibition and his broader work. “I can create a piece of art, and everyone knows exactly what message I'm trying to put across.”

Fraser has worked with the likes of MTV and Nike and is a favorite of African American celebrities like Erykah Badu, who also served as a model for one of the works in this exhibition.

His art has been on display in a variety of locations from Times Square to the National Museum of Singapore. He’s contributed work to Brawhaus x EP7 Group Exhibition show in Paris and the Art Block / NOW gallery UK POP up Exhibition in London, among others.

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How to visit Ase: Afro Frequencies

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, located in the Bellagio Las Vegas Resort and Casino,  is open from 10am – 6pm daily.

Tickets for the exhibition cost $18 for adults, $16 for Nevada residents, and $15 for seniors 65 and older, students, teachers and military with valid ID. Children 5 and younger are free. 

Ase: Afro Frequencies will be at the Bellagio until April 18, 2022. 

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