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A tapestry of figures and flora hangs on a wall of a repeating purple-toned image.

What Is Left Unspoken, Love

February 1, 2022 | Michael Rooks

On view March 25–August 14

What Is Left Unspoken, Love investigates love, a profound subject in art from time immemorial yet one that is still relevant and indispensable to the contingencies of twenty-first-century life. The exhibition features nearly seventy contemporary artworks from the early 1990s through the present that examine the different ways that one of the most powerful forces of life—love—is understood, expressed, or perhaps left unspoken. Works from the 1990s and early 2000s, such as Carrie Mae Weems’s landmark photography project The Kitchen Table Series (1990), represent watershed moments in the history of contemporary art. Other works, such as Alanna Fields’s Our Love Was Deeply Purple (2021), were produced specifically for the exhibition.

What Is Left Unspoken, Love features more than thirty-five diverse and multigenerational artists based in North America, Central America, Europe, and Asia. It is organized around themes that grapple with some of the most firmly rooted concepts of love, including the union of two people and their co-belonging in a shared destiny, the ties that bind family and friends, and loving practice that comes from action, intention, and commitment to promote the worth and well-being of community. At its most epic, the exhibition deals with the family of humankind and its connection with the natural world, as well as the pursuit of wisdom or love of knowledge, while promoting the notion that love is worth considering, particularly as a force for good and an agent of change.

Exhibition catalogue available for purchase at the Museum Shop and at Members receive 10% off Shop purchases.


A woman stands with her hands on a kitchen table beneath a hanging lamp, looking directly at the viewer.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953), The Kitchen Table Series, 1990, twenty platinum prints, fourteen letterpress texts, private collection, Miami, Florida. © Carrie Mae Weems. Photo courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

A photograph of two people leaning against a rock is segmented into four squares arranged in a grid with two squares colored by a dark purple wash.

Alanna Fields (American, born 1990), Our Love Was Deeply Purple (detail), 2021, pigment print mounted on museum board, encaustic on panel, courtesy of the artist. © Alanna Fields.


Member Preview Celebration
Thursday, March 24, 4–8 p.m.
Discover nearly seventy contemporary artworks, including paintings, sculpture, photography, video, and media art by more than thirty-five international artists. Members see it first and free!

Preregistration is required. For this preview celebration, your ticket guarantees timed entry to the exhibition. We welcome you to arrive early; however, we ask that you enter the exhibition at your designated time.

Visit to reserve free timed tickets and to learn more about this event!

Virtual Conversations with Contemporary Artists: Rashid Johnson on The Hikers
Thursday, April 7, 6 p.m., Zoom
Join us for a special virtual conversation with Rashid Johnson and Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. The two will discuss Johnson’s film The Hikers, included in the High’s exhibition What Is Left Unspoken, Love. The conversation will begin with a screening of the brief film followed by a dialogue around the artist’s intent and process.

Free for members. Reservations are required. Visit or call 404-733-5000 to reserve tickets.

Support for Conversations with Contemporary Artists is provided by the Jane F. and Clayton F. Jackson Conversations with Contemporary Artists Endowment.
Installation piece with translucent, decorative red barrier surrounding a bundle of decorative red balls around a carved wooden sculpture above a globe in the center of the floor.

Rina Banerjee (Indian, born 1963), Take me, take me, take me . . . to the Palace of love (detail), 2005, plastic, antique Anglo‑Indian Bombay black wood chair, steel and copper framework, floral picks, foam balls, cowrie shells, quilting pins, red-colored moss, antique stone globe, glass, synthetic fabric, shells, and fake birds, courtesy of the artist. © Rina Banerjee.

A tapestry of figures and flora hangs on a wall of a repeating purple-toned image.

Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaican, born 1981), . . . they stood in a time of unknowing . . . for those who bear/bare witness (detail), 2018, hand-cut jacquard woven photo tapestry with glitter, appliqués, pins, embellishments, fabric, tassels, brooches, acrylic, glass pearls, beads, and hand-cast heliconias, courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. © Ebony Patterson.

On-Site Curator Talk: Michael Rooks
Thursday, May 12, 7 p.m.
Get an introduction to the High’s exhibition What Is Left Unspoken, Love from Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Michael Rooks. Is love intrinsic, or is it a habit? What is the relationship of love to truth, freedom, and justice? Is love possible without mystery? Can love be scientifically proven? Why is it so hard to say, “I love you”? The exhibition approaches its subject through such questions and proposes that concepts of love are ideas worthy of (re)consideration as alternatives for framing a critical dialogue on art, aesthetics, and culture.

Free for members. Reservations are required. Visit or call 404-733-5000 to reserve tickets.

What Is Left Unspoken, Love is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. 

Funding provided by Taylor Family Fund.

Delta Air Lines

ACT Foundation, Inc.
Sarah and Jim Kennedy
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Dr. Joan H. Weens Estate
Harry Norman Realtors
wish Foundation

Robin and Hilton Howell

The Antinori Foundation
Corporate Environments
The Arthur R. and Ruth D. Lautz Charitable Foundation
Elizabeth and Chris Willett

Farideh and Al Azadi
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Lucinda W. Bunnen
Marcia and John Donnell
Mrs. Peggy Foreman
Helen C. Griffith
Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo
Dr. Joe B. Massey
Margot and Danny McCaul
The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust
Wade Rakes and Nicholas Miller
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
In Memory of Elizabeth B. Stephens
USI Insurance Services
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren

Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund