Spring means a number of things: mild weather, beautiful flowers, fresh berries, and—three new visions for our exciting Park Pictures project. As you may remember, our Pictures are three billboards installed along the paved walking trails, commissioned by the Museum to encourage visitors to explore the art in the Museum Park. We switch them out regularly to feature new works by different artists from North Carolina and beyond.
Last fall UNC grad Carolyn Janssen created three billboards featuring digitally manipulated worlds filled with marauding Amazons, in environments that were both strange and appealing. This spring we’ve opted to do something entirely new: we invited college students to submit images and ideas for billboards. And what a response we received! After sorting through all the entries, we chose three artists: Sydney Cobb (Alamance Community College), Isaiah Johnson (St. Augustine’s College), and Cindy Kohnen (Meredith College).
Cobb’s billboard, Fireflies, refers to a favorite Southern pastime. “This piece portrays a childhood memory of catching mystical fireflies in one of my grandma’s mason jars,” Cobb says. “I always loved opening the jar and watching them fly away.” Cobb notes that our current exhibition, El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, provided inspiration. “My piece is a free-flowing and natural piece, much like his artwork.”
Johnson’s winning entry, One Brick, One Seed, is a photographic manifesto about the linked urban and natural landscapes. “I didn’t want to be literal with nature and all the beautiful aspects of it, but to show the evolution of today’s world through one brick and one seed,” Johnson says. “This piece was inspired by the beginning of life itself, the buildings we live in, and the hands that built them. From that first hammer or screw, their constructions offer limitless inspiration. The components of this piece are the forest and the cityscape. The trees were placed above the buildings to highlight the line between two different worlds that are also closely related.”
Kohnen’s Cycles presents, in her words, “the different stages of life after death.” Kohnen explains, “I chose the white and pink petals to show the beauty in life but paired these elements with dirt to convey the sense of a fallen petal to the ground. As spring turns to fall, leaves also observe the remaining life in nature’s dying elements. The third [segment] shows the reincarnation of the dead petals and leaves through the image of live mushrooms and their roots. The repetition of the circular formation created with grass embraces earth’s life cycle. I used color throughout this series to depict and stages of human life, starting with birth, softness, and purity, and ending with wisdom, age, and decomposition.”
Congratulations to our three winners, and thanks to all our participants! Be sure to explore our Museum Park to view these billboards, and come back in the fall to experience a new round of Park Pictures.
This work, made possible by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, is part of an ongoing series of outdoor art projects, Art Has No Boundaries, commissioned by the NCMA to encourage visitors to actively explore the Museum Park.
Images and captions:
Top: Sydney Cobb, Fireflies, 2011, digital print on vinyl, © 2011 Sydney Cobb
Cindy Kohnen, Cycles, 2011, digital print on vinyl, © 2011 Cindy Kohnen
Isaiah Johnson, One Brick, One Seed, 2011, digital print on vinyl, © 2011 Isaiah Johnson