Works of Art
The Museum Park art program facilitates collaborations among artists, designers, and environmental scientists to create works of art inspired by the natural world. Artists are commissioned by the Museum to create site-specific temporary and permanent works that directly engage the landscape and present new perspectives on the natural world, exploring our relationship to the environment and the role of nature in contemporary society.
Wind MachineVollis Simpson
A World War II veteran, Simpson built his first wind machine, as a power source, while stationed on the island of Saipan. He started creating kinetic sculptures out of found objects when he retired in 1985 in eastern North Carolina. Made of discarded parts from cars, trucks, bicycles, farm machinery, streetlights, and highways signs, Simpson’s whirligigs transform cast-off, everyday objects and industrial materials into whimsical wind machines.
This monumental sculpture was created on-site by North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre. A backhoe was used to dig three elliptical trenches that were filled with concrete and steel bars. After the concrete curves cured for a month, a crane lifted the rings from the ground and lowered them into their existing location. The title Gyre refers to a circular or spiraling motion—gyration—and a spiraling shape, like a vortex or tornado.
Steed Taylor’s temporary “road tattoos” are painted on sidewalks, trails, and streets and eventually disappear as the paint is worn away by weather and traffic. With the help of 45 community volunteers, the artist painted a road tattoo over 1,000 feet in length on the paved trails of the Museum Park. The design for Invasive is based on 18th-century European floral fabric patterns and contemporary tattoo designs. Before the final pattern was painted, names of invasive plants were written within the outlines of the design and then painted over, a symbolic act of containment.
Lowe's PavilionMike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca
Designed and built specifically for this site by an artist and a designer who both live and work in Raleigh, N.C., this “art-as-shelter” project blends easily into its natural surroundings. The perforated, metallic skin of the pavilion, inspired by the transparent quality of a dragonfly’s wings, changes with the time of day and the quality of light—reflecting its natural surroundings and taking on the colors of the trees, grass, and sky—or nearly disappearing into a shimmering pattern of light and shadow.
Crossroads/Trickster IMartha Jackson-Jarvis
This sculpture marks the intersection of two trails in the Park and combines Italian glass tiles, carnelian stones, and shattered bricks to create a densely patterned, textured mosaic surface. The artist has described her use of the prison bricks (recycled from the Polk Youth Correctional Facility, located on this property from 1920 to 1997) as “time capsules,” a way of creating a new work of art that speaks to the historical significance of this place.
To see Jennie smileSteven Siegel
Made of several tons of discarded newspapers and built around two trees that formed an internal armature, Siegel’s sculpture was a literal depiction of “before and after”—the newspaper’s original source and its current state—directly juxtaposing the manmade and the natural. Siegel brought the newspaper back to its point of origin, the forest, returning it to the landscape. After exposure to the elements, the sculpture weathered and changed, eventually decaying and deteriorating, mimicking the cycles of the natural world.
To see Jennie smile's once-majestic stand was subject to the forces of gravity. Before nature took her tumbling into a ravine, the Museum assisted a more graceful exit and removed the sculpture on May 18, 2010.
Cloud Chamber for the Trees and SkyChris Drury
This shelter operates as an oversized camera obscura or a pinhole camera. A small aperture in the roof projects an inverted image of the sky onto the floor of the chamber, an effect that seems to pull the sky down to the viewer. Inside, one’s perspective is turned upside down. Instead of looking up at the sky, trees, or clouds, one looks down on them from above.
PICTURE THISBarbara Kruger, Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson, and Nicholas Quennell
The Museum’s outdoor stage and amphitheater is a large-scale environmental work of art and the result of a unique collaboration by an artist, architects, and a landscape architect. Giant letters spell out PICTURE THIS and are sculpted in various materials, covering over 2½ acres, including the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater, seating elements, and a film screen. Many of the sculptural letters incorporate text that focuses on specific references to the history, culture, and landscape of North Carolina.
Park PicturesDan Bailey
Park Pictures, large-scale outdoor pictures in three locations along the Greenway trail, are changed twice a year to feature different artists.
To create the series Looking Down: North Carolina Museum of Art, artist Dan Bailey chronicled the human activity on the NCMA campus using low-altitude helium balloon photography over a period of several months. Bailey shifts perspectives and vantage points to compress time, collaging multiple images of people, pathways, works of art, and the changing seasons on top of satellite photographs of the Museum grounds.
Looking Down is part of the exhibition 0 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary Art (which includes more work by Dan Bailey). 0 to 60 highlights a current trend in contemporary art—exploring the intersection of time and art—and features the work of 32 international artists who employ innovative and experimental techniques.
The presentation of this work at the NCMA is part of an ongoing series of outdoor art projects, Art Has No Boundaries, to encourage visitors to actively explore the Museum Park, and made possible by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
A Closer Look: TrailmarkersTim Purus
Fun for kids and adults alike, A Closer Look features 12 metal plaques installed along the paths and trails, each with an illustration of animals and plants native to North Carolina. They were designed as reliefs so that visitors may create rubbings of the image using a crayon and paper. The Museum commissioned Tim Purus, a New York–based graphic designer, to create all 12 illustrations for A Closer Look.
This project is part of the Active Community and Neighborhood grant program funded by the John Rex Endowment through the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health.
South African artist Ledelle Moe works in steel and concrete to create larger-than-life figurative sculptures. Collapse I sprawls across the top of a ridge in the Museum Park, a massive human form lying on its side, a monument that has toppled over. Untitled sits along the trail deeper in the woods, a boulderlike form of a human figure curled into a ball. The sculptures resemble natural outcroppings of rock formations and provoke questions about history, monumentality, permanence, and fragility.
Whisper BenchJim Gallucci
Based in Greensboro, N.C., Jim Gallucci uses painted steel and architectural forms to create interactive works of art. Located on either side of a trail, the two sections of Whisper Bench are linked by a hidden sound pipe that allows visitors to whisper messages back and forth while sitting on opposite sides of the path.
MissionWorkingman Collective: Tom Ashcraft, Janis Goodman, Peter Winant
This installation includes 15 birdhouses and related signage to provide a habitat for the three species of songbirds hardest hit by the West Nile virus: the eastern bluebird, Carolina chickadee, and downy woodpecker. Mission addresses issues of habitat, attraction, inventory, environment, and migration specific to this region. It also speaks to a broader social context and human impact on the natural world.
The ConversationalistChakaia Booker
In The Conversationalist, Chakaia Booker creates a web of rubber that interlaces and fans out in a manner that references African art, textiles, and the tradition of scarification. Two opposing forms are joined in conversation with one another; the angles and spaces between them at the base represent disagreement and varying opinions. A gradual ascent culminates in a point of unity and suggests an agreement as well as the potential for understanding that may result from a conversation about different beliefs and values. The artist seeks to encourage viewers to contribute to the dialogue and to maintain an open mind to difference.
Benches, bike racks, and signageAl Frega
Artist Alvin Frega, who lives and works in Durham, N.C., created a series of art-in-service elements for the Museum Park, including benches, bicycle racks, and a signage system, incorporating metal bars and other materials he recycled from the former prison that once occupied this site. Frega’s functional works of art both preserve and retell the story of a site layered with history.