The Museum welcomes visitors back into the galleries starting Wednesday, September 9, with updated hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, required free timed tickets to encourage social distancing, and increased health and safety procedures including required cloth masks. Learn more about these updates in this video or at ncartmuseum.org/covid19.
NCMA from Home
Although the galleries are temporarily closed, we invite you to experience your NCMA from home. Through these virtual offerings, inspired by the Museum collection, we hope to foster contemplation, meditation, and creativity.
Michael Richards, Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian, 1999, resin on steel, H. 81 x W. 30 x D. 19 in., Courtesy of the Estate of Michael Richards
Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian commemorates the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots whose heroic contributions to World War II were recognized only in the past few decades. The sculpture, cast from the artist’s own body, represents a gold-painted airman penetrated on all sides by small airplanes, reminiscent of the arrows shot at St. Sebastian, an early Christian martyr. The title of the work, with its double reference to the saint and a southern folktale of entrapment, pays tribute to the Tuskegee pilots and to all who suffer intolerance and unfairness.
The backstory of the sculpture, though, is a haunting one. The work itself, in effect a self-portrait, now seems an eerie foretelling of the artist’s death. Richards was a victim of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; his studio was on the 92nd floor of Tower One. Tar Baby vs. Saint Sebastian, too, was feared lost in the wreckage and was not found at his home. It was later found stored in a relative’s garage outside of New York City.
Each year the Boys and Girls Clubs of America hosts a national arts contest to “inspire creativity and skill development in photography, visual arts, and digital design.” This year, the NCMA partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County, hosts of the 2019–2020 Southeast Regional contest, to exhibit the winners at this regional level. These works were to be exhibited at the NCMA in April 2020; because of closure, we are now sharing these works with you, and a bit about the process, in a virtual format.
At a time when it was punishable by death to profess Christian faith, St. Sebastian (256–287 C.E.) was tied to a stake by Roman soldiers as a live archery target. Although tradition says he was rescued by angels (another version says a Roman widow tended to his wounds), he is depicted in art being punctured by arrows. The patron saint of soldiers, athletes, and martyrs, he is seen in classical paintings all over the world. Take a deeper dive into St. Sebastian Tended by Irene (1625) by Hendrick ter Brugghen.
Remembering and Revering
Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian brings to mind two films, one about the Tuskegee Airmen and a documentary about sculptor and architect Maya Lin, who has used her work to memorialize major events through the healing power of art.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995). Director: Robert Markowitz. Based on a true story, this film chronicles the experiences of the first Black fighter pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Watch on HBO Max or rent on Amazon.
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994). Director: Freida Lee Mock. This Academy Award-winning documentary explores the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a decade of Lin’s creative work. Rent on Vimeo.
Moment of Meditation
Sometimes life can be overwhelming or things in the world feel scary, and that’s OK. In this short video, our partners at Growga offer a helpful meditative practice for processing worry and other big feelings. Suitable for all ages.
Music of the Airmen’s Era
Much like the history of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, represented in Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian, jazz music of the same era was welcomed into white spaces while the Black community from whence the genre came continued to face immense oppression. In Nazi Germany jazz music was even forbidden, until it was found that it could be corrupted for use in the regime’s favor. At home in the United States, the art continued evolving, in response to and independently of the war. Jazz remains one of our nation’s most treasured art forms. We hope you enjoy this playlist of 1930s–1940s jazz, in recognition of the service of its creators and contributors, and its cultural impact throughout history.
And then join us on Tuesday, September 15, when Dreamroot performs virtually from the Museum galleries for our second installment of Offstage Live! This quintet from Durham creates music as a refuge from chronic illness, racism, hatred, and the struggles of living in the 21st century. Live streaming will be available through this YouTube link starting September 15 at 8 pm.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, Outdoor Amphitheater
The recording below is an audio description of Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Join a Discussion on Monuments
As we contemplate the self-portrait created by Michael Richards that could now be interpreted as a premonitory memorial to the artist himself, we are invited to take part in a larger conversation about the nature of monuments and memorials. The Mellon Foundation’s Cultural Counsel says, “Public monuments and memorials profoundly shape our collective understanding of the past and help determine which histories we will continue to preserve and celebrate in the future.”
Join us in observing and reflecting on Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian with guest facilitator Kyma Lassiter of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. This free virtual program on Wednesday, September 16, guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of the piece. See more details and sign up here. For ages 16 and up.
Detroit-based artist Louise Jones, also known as Ouizi, creates large-scale floral mural installations for public spaces throughout the United States. Jones’s explosive flower murals blossom with vitality and saturated color. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, she depicts flowers at a massive scale, focusing attention on the abstract qualities of the subject. Jones says her approach to painting flowers and plant matter derives from her personal interest in exploring the femininity she finds in the floral form.
Originally commissioned by the NCMA as part of the exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art, which was on view in the fall of 2018, Jones’s mural Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me continues to “bloom” on the brick façade of East Building. The flowers in the NCMA mural are inspired by flowers and plants that Jones found in the Museum Park: southern magnolia, black-eyed Susans, St. John’s wort, and swamp milkweed, among others. It took the artist four days to create the mural, spray painting and painting by hand. The finished mural measures 24 feet wide and 48 feet tall.
Enlivening the World’s Walls
Mural art can be found all over the world and even throughout history. Prominent Mexican painter Diego Rivera created murals in Mexico and the U.S. as early as the 1920s. An organization bringing color to the world today is POW! WOW! Its mission is not only to create beautiful works of art but also to bring people together. In this video the creators repaint a school in Nepal and cover the walls in color.
A North Carolina Muralist
Dare Coulter is on her way to being one of the state’s best-loved muralists. This young dynamic artist has been engaged with projects in communities across North Carolina, and those who live near or drive by her murals know how much of a sense of place her work creates. Immerse yourself in her creative process through this video produced by UNC-TV, and then map out places to visit to see her work in person.
Offstage Live Presents Four Free Concerts
Like the local flowers seen in Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me, our state’s music is diverse and flourishing! This season we’re going offstage and into the galleries to showcase a lineup of North Carolina bands. Presented with Come Hear North Carolina, our four-part live-streamed free concert series Offstage Live kicks off September 1 with Chatham County Line and will also be broadcast on UNC-TV in the coming months.
A Toast to the Artist!
We asked Oleg Kasianov, bartender at Good Day Good Night restaurant at Origin Hotel in Raleigh, to whip up a late-summer cocktail evoking the floral notes of Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me. From Kasianov: “Our Happy Bride cocktail, a blend of Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice gin, honey, lemon juice, and fresh floral blossom mist, is sure to have your taste buds dancing. Perfect to accompany a light salad for lunch, or a sweet floral addition to a savory brunch entree.”—Kat Harding, Public Relations Manager
Learn some paint-spraying techniques to create your own mural—the perfect outdoor fun for a summer day! Find detailed instructions for this activity, plus suggestions of books for the family to enjoy, at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
Create a Takeaway Show
Calling all musicians! In honor of Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me, and street art everywhere, we’re inviting musicians around the globe to film and share a takeaway show in front of a mural of your choice. A “takeaway show” can be described as an impromptu-style, low-production street performance, often with makeshift instrumentation. Check out this video for an example. Here’s what to do:
Pick a mural as the backdrop for your video and configure your camera setup (handheld/phone cameras are welcome).
Play and record, socially distanced and responsibly, a song in front of your mural of choice.
Post your video to social media with tags #NCMArecommends @ncartmuseum. If you know it, tag the mural location along with title and artist to credit their work. We’ll share from there!—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, NCMA Amphitheater
Bursting into Bloom
How does a large-scale mural come to life? Watch the installation time-lapse video to see Louise Jones painting Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me on the side of East Building. Some of her tools (an umbrella, motorized lift, and spray paint) might surprise you! Learn more about the process, including how our curator of horticulture and sustainability worked with Jones to gather an inspiration bouquet from the Museum Park, on Circa, the Museum blog.
This recording is an audio description of Summer's Where You'll Find Me. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Virtual Art-Inspired Meditation
Awaken your senses, elevate your mind, and calm your body through a meditation inspired by Louise Jones’s mural Summer Is Where You’ll Find Me. This virtual program on Wednesday, September 2, guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice. See more details and get tickets here. For ages 16 and up.
Virtual “What’s in the Box?”
Have fun while exploring art together! “What’s in the Box?” is the Museum’s signature program for children ages 2 to 5 and their caregivers. For this live virtual session on Wednesday, September 2, we’ll explore the bounty of nature captured in Summer’s Where You’ll Find Me. Plus, we’ll make a large-scale collage. Find all the details and reserve your free spot here!
Film Club Features Style Wars
If you enjoy watching and talking about films, join us on Friday, September 18, for a meeting of the virtual NCMA Film Club! Watch two short videos and a feature film at your convenience, and then join a Zoom discussion with a special guest. This month’s pairing is the documentary Style Wars (1983) and two shorts about murals in North Carolina: Kotis Street Art and Morgan Monsters—Kevin Lyons X Trophy Brewing. See details and get your ticket here.
Roman, Statue of Bacchus, 1st–3rd century (torso and head), with postantique restorations, marble, H. 96 5/8 x W. 30 x D. 28 ½ in., Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John D. Humber
The NCMA’s Statue of Bacchus is a patchwork sculpture made from fragments, including a rare 2nd-century Roman torso at its core. The statue is wonderfully complex and intriguing. The marble from its various fragments comes from at least seven ancient quarries in three countries in the Roman Empire (Greece, Turkey, and Italy). Toolmarks and stylistic evidence tell us that not all the fragments are ancient; some fragments were carved at different times, but all were used together to create an image of Bacchus in the late 18th or early 19th century. In the 1960s experts advocated taking the statue apart to display the rare torso; after partial disassembly in the 1980s, Bacchus languished in storage until the beginning of the new millennium.
The Bacchus Conservation Project involved curators, conservators, classicists, art historians, geologists, engineers, 3-D specialists, artists, and even an NCSU basketball player. Based on research conducted since 2013, the statue’s conservation treatment centered on putting the marble fragments together again—and even replacing its missing arm! The Statue of Bacchus is now fully restored, and you can see its transformation in the project’s latest blog post. When the NCMA reopens, Bacchus will be on display until January 31, 2021, in the exhibition The Bacchus Conservation Project: The Story of a Sculpture.
Bacchus after the Makeover
After months (nay, years!) of conservation TLC, Bacchus is looking like a new man! He’s still his old composite self, but he “cleans up real nice” and looks fantastic with his new right arm. He’s got NCMA conservator Corey Smith Riley and multimedia artist Larry Heyda, of Lawrence Heyda Studios, to thank for his dashing new looks. Thanks to NCMA videographer Luke Mehaffie, who documented every minute of the process, you can see Bacchus transform before your eyes.
Date Night around the World
Inspired by the three countries where marble in the Statue of Bacchus originates from, we’ve partnered with Tabletop Media Group and area restaurants to bring you specialty meals from around the world. Enjoy six unexpected culinary adventures with cuisine from Turkey, Greece, and Italy. The restaurants offering these meals may surprise you, too—like a Japanese eatery serving a Greek dish! Check out the creations here. These one-of-a-kind dishes are available only until September 15, so start now if you’d like to try them all!
Make it an experience for all your senses by creating your own Bacchus-inspired date night. Go out for a meal or get takeout, and then enjoy one of our film recommendations or many live virtual events this month.
Our restaurant partners adhere to strict safety protocols for dine-in and offer takeout.
In Vino Veritas
Need a date night idea? Share a wine tasting inspired by the Roman god of wine. Our Bacchus sculpture is made of marble from countries around the Mediterranean, including Greece and Italy. The NCMA recommends these Greek and Italian wines:
In honor of the Bacchus Conservation Project, we recommend these films that depict mythical figures.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs, and Caroline Rocheleau, Curator of Ancient Art
Black Orpheus / Orfeu negro (1959). Director: Marcel Camus. This retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice takes place in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. Winner of the Oscar for best foreign-language film and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Rent on iTunes or Amazon, or watch on the Criterion Channel.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Director: Don Chaffey. In this classic adventure, the legendary Greek hero and a group of adventurers go on a perilous quest for the legendary Golden Fleece. Rent on YouTube, iTunes, or Amazon.
Hercules (1997). Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker. Animated family-friendly story of Hercules and his journey to prove himself worthy of living with the gods on Mount Olympus. Rent on YouTube, iTunes, or Amazon, or watch on Disney+.
Bacchus (2018). Director: Rikke Alma Krogshave Planeta. This animated short tells the story of a young woman who is lured into a colorful and mysterious world. Not appropriate for young audiences. Watch on YouTube.
Fantasia (1940). Director of segment: Ford Beebe. In a segment set to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Bacchus is depicted as a corpulent man with a wreath of ivy and big bunches of grapes on his bald head. Watch on Disney+. Watch a clip from this segment on YouTube.
This recording is an audio description of the Statue of Bacchus. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Cheers to Bacchus! Virtual Lecture and Happy Hour
Pour a glass of wine and join Corey Smith Riley, objects conservator, and Caroline Rocheleau, curator of ancient art, on Thursday, August 20, for a virtual lecture and happy hour all about the Statue of Bacchus. We’ll toast the completion of the Bacchus Conservation Project, and you’ll learn some secrets behind the sculpture’s quirky new right arm. See details and sign up for this free event here.
All Hands Invited to Family Day
Join us for our first virtual Family Day on Saturday, August 22. We’re planning activities to help you discover all things mythical in Greek and Roman art. Watch videos to learn more about the Museum’s discoveries, and get instructions for making Bacchus-inspired artworks from the comfort of your home. Sign up early to reserve free at-home art kits to pick up at the Museum. See all the details here.
Virtual Slow Art Appreciation
Join us for Virtual Slow Art Appreciation on Wednesday, August 26. This free interactive program guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of a single work of art from our Greco-Roman collection. For ages 16 and up. See details and sign up here.
Save the Date for Bacchus Scholars Day
Our virtual Bacchus Scholars Day on Saturday, September 12, brings together the curator, conservator, classicist, art historians, geoarchaeologist, scientist, engineer, 3-D specialist, and artist who contributed to the restoration of the NCMA’s Statue of Bacchus. Sign up for the free webinar to discover how science and new technologies came to the rescue of a work of art.
André Leon Gray, Black Magic (It’s Fantastic), 2005, acrylic, rhinestones, basketball, braided synthetic hair, street sweeper brush, shoelaces, headband, miniature clay pots, wood, and cowrie shells on wood ironing board, H. 67 x W. 31 x D. 9 1/2 in., Purchased with funds from the Friends of African and African American Art, and with additional funds provided by North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
Using social, cultural, and economic issues as context, Raleigh-based artist André Leon Gray presents powerful narratives within his works to raise awareness and elicit conversations. Much of Gray’s work consists of commonplace and found objects such as children’s toys, wooden chairs, and picture frames. Through these objects he illustrates the lived experiences of African Americans while critiquing the social and political structures have long enforced their marginalization. Gray refers to his works as “eye gumbo,” which he defines as “a visual meal for the mind, thickened with a roux of Black culture, marinated in social commentary, and seasoned with consciousness.” In Black Magic (It’s Fantastic), he commemorates a storied local event—the first racially integrated college basketball game in the South. This rare moment of racial collaboration and mutual respect, to many, felt magical: a combination of factors that collided to produce a truly memorable moment. Black Magic, indeed.
Video Visit with the Artist: André Leon Gray
Artist André Leon Gray recently spoke with Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks about his creative process, which draws from jazz, basketball, and the individuality of the discarded objects that find their way into his work. He also offers a list of books and films that have contributed to the formation of his artistic voice.
Going for the Flow
Artists and athletes know about the magical state of flow, where skill meets challenge. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says flow occurs “when a person, body, or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Through a dedicated practice, whether artistic or athletic, one’s abilities are honed to a degree that makes challenges exciting. Read about the nine dimensions of flow or watch a TED talk by Csikszentmihalyi to learn about cultivating the habits that lead to optimal performance, even to happiness itself.—Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement
Film Club Features Hoop Dreams
If you enjoy watching and talking about films, join us on Friday, August 14, for the first meeting of the virtual NCMA Film Club! We’ll pair thought-provoking contemporary and classic short and feature films and include a Zoom discussion. Our first pairing, inspired by Black Magic (It’s Fantastic), features the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams and the short film Game (2017). Natalie Bullock Brown, an award-winning producer and director and a teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University, moderates the discussion. See details and get your ticket here.
Kobe Bryant on Books
In addition to his basketball career, Kobe Bryant was an avid reader and recommender of favorite books to his fellow NBA players. This list of Bryant’s recommendations compiled by the Los Angeles Public Library spans genres and provides food for thought on the way creativity functions, whether applied to athletic prowess, artistic exploration, or how the empathy gained through storytelling can unite us all.—Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement
Create an animated flip book with drawings that show athletic bodies in motion. Find details of this activity, plus suggestions of books and read-along videos for the family to enjoy, at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
This recording is an audio description of Black Magic (It’s Fantastic) that is written and read by Tamar Harris Warren of Arts Access. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
The Artist’s Playlist
André Leon Gray selected 20 songs that are thought-provoking, poignant, defiant, inspiring, and humorous. This playlist complements his eye-opening visual commentary on power structures, race relations, and the Black experience.
Frank Philip Stella, Raqqa II, 1970, synthetic polymer and graphite on canvas, 120 x 300 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hanes
Frank Stella’s Raqqa II is more than a painting: It’s an architectural dream, a partial realization of a large scheme, a hope dashed. That’s a lot for one picture (even a huge one) to handle, but it’s all true. Raqqa II was meant as a major inclusion in a series of paintings called the Protractor Series, a planned grouping of 31 canvases highlighting a circular or arched design (inspired by ancient cities with circular plans—in this case, Raqqa, an ancient city in modern-day Syria). The full series, though, was never completed, which surely must have been a disappointment to Stella. Nevertheless, Raqqa II is still a triumph, an eye-catching, heart-stopping riot of color and shape, an experiment in what a painting can be—an image too big to be hemmed in by a rectangular frame.—Jennifer Dasal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Remembering Polish Synagogues
Frank Stella has other artworks named after various cities around the world. In the online exhibition Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland, we gain further insight into how Stella often named his work after important cities or sites with significant architecture. In his Polish Villages series, he named each piece after a village where Jewish synagogues were located before their destruction during World War II, using sketches and photographs made by the Department of Polish Architecture during the interwar period to inspire his work. Stella’s work reminds us that even though buildings can be destroyed, their historical significance can live on through the memories and efforts of those who care.—Cara Greene, Interpretation Intern
View Exhibition Catalogue Online
In 1970 MoMA presented the first retrospective of Frank Stella’s work, for which there is a fully digitized exhibition catalogue by William Rubin. The exhibition covered nearly a decade’s worth of the artist’s paintings and drawings, foregrounding his pioneering shaped canvases, including the Protractor Series.—Erin Rutherford, Librarian
We’re All in This Together
We asked followers of NCMA Recommends to share their favorite selfies for us to weave into a work of art in our collection. Raqqa II, with its geometric lines and color blocking, seemed like the perfect inspiration for showing our shared connections, even as we continue to be (mostly) apart.
Speaking of connections, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” It brings us together and reaches the depths of our souls. Represented in North Carolina’s expansive music scene is bluegrass, jazz, Latin and Senegalese music, and everything in between. Enjoy the music of our state, from mountain to sea, as we celebrate our collective unity.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager of the Outdoor Amphitheater
Stella and Company
Learn about Frank Stella and other American artists of the era in these documentaries.
American Art in the 1960s (1972). Director: Michael Blackwood. Portrait of artists from the 1960s like Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stella, and their respective art movements and techniques. Rent on Vimeo or Amazon.
Who Gets to Call It Art? (2006). Director: Peter Rosen. The New York art scene in the 1960s through the eyes of Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Henry Geldzahler. Rent on Vimeo.
The Math Angle
Frank Stella's Raqqa II is part of the artist's Protractor Series, which was titled after the half-moon-shaped device that helps math students measure angles. Stella's composition uses shape, pattern, and precise measurement, making it a great example of how artists use math (implicitly or explicitly) when creating their work. Find more ways to connect art and math on NCMALearn.
Turn the shapes from Raqqa II into a piece of wearable art with cardboard and paint. Find details of this activity and more ways to move, read, watch, and create at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
Educational Lesson Plan
In this NCMALearn remote learning project, students create a fabric pattern inspired by the colors and interlocking circles of Frank Stella’s Protractor Series.
Geometry and Poetry
Frank Stella’s Raqqa II captures the artist’s attention to form and its relationship to purpose. While first glance may give the perception of childlike simplicity, his form uses geometry and a strict set of procedures to create a system of seven shaped and framed units that are explicitly separate yet connected by the repetition of shape and color.
To celebrate Raqqa II and to highlight Stella’s focus on the relationship between form and purpose, we are pairing it with the poem “Order” by Randall Mann. “Order” presents 10 stanzas that rely upon repetition and the reordering of lines. Mann also uses the poetic device of enjambment, the continuation of a sentence across lines or stanzas without anticipated punctuation or pause. Thus, Mann’s 10 stanzas are separate but connected with purpose, just as Stella’s seven discrete units are systematically separate, but connected. See a fuller discussion on NCMALearn.
Are you interested in expressing your creativity and exploring the relationship between form and purpose? We invite you to write a poem that uses enjambment across stanzas, creating the same contrast between the separate and connected that we see in Raqqa II and “Order.” Share your poems on social media and tag #ncartmuseum.—Katherine White, Deputy Director
Liberation Station Virtual Storytime
Coming to you from the beautiful NCMA galleries we all miss so much, Victoria Scott-Miller of Liberation Station bookstore offers a series of readings and book recommendations for young people and their families, using art and literature to build bridges. The July book selections are Can’t Scare Me by Ashley Bryan and Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry. Watch on YouTube, and find Scott-Miller’s introduction to the books here.
Leonardo Drew, City in the Grass, 2019, aluminum, sand, wood, cotton, and mastic, H. 102 x W. 32 ft., Collection of the artist, courtesy Talley Dunn Gallery, Galerie Lelong & Co., and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco
In the Museum Park, you will find Leonardo Drew’s monumental outdoor sculpture City in the Grass, installed in the Ellipse. Drew’s first major outdoor sculpture, it was commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York, where it was on view in 2019, before it came to the NCMA this year.
The work is composed of aluminum panels covered in a mosaic of colored sand and adhesive, inspired by a Persian rug. A miniature woodblock cityscape sits atop this “flying carpet,” punctuated by three towers that evoke a variety of architectural and cultural references, including the Empire State Building and The Wizard of Oz. Drew wants visitors to feel like Gulliver discovering Lilliput as they wander through his bird’s-eye view of a city. “In the end,” he says, “it can be your flying carpet transporting you to wherever you need to be.”
Drew sees public art as a shared experience, and his intent is for City in the Grass to weather and change in response to visitor interaction and the elements. “My philosophy,” he has stated, “has always been that the viewer should be complicit in realizing and finishing the work.” The work has intentional “holes” where grass pokes through, evoking a carpet that has been used and lived on. His hope is that the more the work is “used,” the more worn it will become, like a carpet in one’s home.
Watch this CBS This Morning interview with artist Leonardo Drew to learn more about City in the Grass, his process, and why he gave up drawing to make sculptures.
Virtual Slow Art Appreciation
Join us in observing and reflecting on Leonardo Drew’s City in the Grass. This free virtual program on Wednesday, July 15, from 7 to 8 pm, guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of the piece. See more details and sign up here. For ages 16 and up.
Art in Motion! Enter Our Virtual Sculpture Race
We’ve reimagined our Art in Motion Sculpture Race to take place in cyberspace, and in your homes! Celebrate art and human innovation by building a dynamic sculpture. The only requirement is that your creation be inspired by a work of art from the Museum’s collection. Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories! Digital submissions accepted July 3–21.
Even if you don't enter the race, join us for the virtual Exhibition and Awards Ceremony on Friday, July 31, from 7 to 8 pm to watch the competition. Find all the details here. —Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs
Behind the Scenes: Walk in the Park
Meet Ben Bridgers, manager of Park collection and exhibitions. Since the pandemic has closed our galleries, more visitors have been enjoying the Museum Park, where Ben has been working to inspect the sculptures, repair damage, and care for City in the Grass as it weathers as the artist intended.
A Flight of Fancy from Guatemala
Leonardo Drew and others have referred to City in the Grass as a flying carpet. The folds and wrinkles in the sculpture make it look like a rug in the grass. In Guatemala people create similar works of art called alfombras de aserrín or sawdust carpets, a tradition of Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). In 2014 a Guinness World Record was achieved for the longest: 6,601 feet.
While Drew uses colored sand, these carpets use dyed sawdust to create colorful patterns. Many times these carpets have a religious theme, but in modern times they can portray many different subjects. Watch this video created by Hola Cultura about the alfombras de aserrín created at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2017.—Felicia K. Ingram, Manager of Interpretation, Accessibility, and Diversity
Picnic in Support of Black-Owned Restaurants
As it overlooks our sprawling Park with grassy hills and shaded nooks, City in the Grass inspires us to picnic! You, too? Grab a blanket and enjoy a meal while supporting superb Black-owned restaurants in our community. In this list of local businesses, check out the favorite dish, and then order takeaway directly from a recommended restaurant. Like Leonardo Drew’s “magic carpet,” they can transport you to Jamaica, Ethiopia, the North Carolina coast, or anywhere you’d like to go! Pair your meal with our picnic playlist for traveling the globe.
Show us your picnic scene by tagging @ncartmuseum, and don’t forget to tag the restaurant.—Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs
Starring the City
City in the Grass makes us ponder our relationship with our city and the role it plays in shaping us. This week’s recommended films feature cities as prominent characters and portray protagonists who are shaped by their environment and community.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Crooklyn (1994). Director: Spike Lee. Nine-year-old Troy has to deal with her five rambunctious brothers, eccentric neighbors, and the trials of growing up in the ’70s in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Moonlight (2016). Director: Barry Jenkins. A young man growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami is shaped deeply by his environment as he struggles with his identity, a drug-addicted mother, and his sexuality. Watch on Netflix.
Güeros (2014). Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios. Two brothers embark on a road trip through Mexico City to search for a long-forgotten musician but end up being changed by the harsh truths they discover. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
City of God (2002). Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund. Residents of Cidade de Deus (City of God), a favela of Río de Janeiro, strive to overcome the circumstances of their harsh environment. Rent on Amazon.
Imagine you’re able to fly through the sky and look down at the world below you, perhaps from an airplane window, or even atop a magic carpet! How would it look? Create a collage that shows the view you’d see. Find details about this family activity and more at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
Learning about Contemporary Artists
Leonardo Drew is one of dozens of artists featured in films by Art21, a nonprofit devoted to making contemporary art accessible to a wide audience. Drew appears in this episode exploring two questions: How do artists push beyond what they already know and readily see? and Can acts of engagement and exploration be works of art in themselves? Go to NCMALearn for a list of other NCMA artists featured in Art21 films.—Michelle Harrell, Director of Education, and Jill Taylor, Manager of School and Teacher Programs
The recording below is an audio description of City in the Grass. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Stacy Lynn Waddell, The Gulf Stream (after Winslow Homer), 2013, branded, burned, and singed paper with watercolor, gold leaf, and glitter, 33 x 44 in., Purchased with funds from the William R. Roberson Jr. and Frances M. Roberson Endowed Fund for North Carolina Art
Artist Statement: "Making art is a means of getting free"
Making art is a means of getting free. When I’m alone in my studio, impulses and ideas give way to images that both require reflection and provide a path forward. The Gulf Stream (after Winslow Homer), re-visions Homer’s original 1899 scene. Here, the Black male protagonist is no longer visible. His absence could be attributed to any number of circumstances presented in the tableau. However, the addition of the Pan African flag (also known as the Marcus Garvey or Black Liberation flag) gives way to a more empowering potential narrative. Returning to this work against the current backdrop of ongoing upheaval and struggle, particularly on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, reminds me that the contrast between America’s founding promise and what she has bestowed remains frighteningly stark.—Stacy Lynn Waddell
Interview with the Artist: Stacy Lynn Waddell
Get an inside understanding of the work of Stacy Lynn Waddell as the artist discusses her work The Gulf Stream (after Winslow Homer), its relationship to the original painting, and how art and history can be revised to include the narratives of the unseen builders of our American story. Juneteenth is not only a day of celebrating independence for enslaved people, but also a celebration of all it took to win that independence.
View Homer’s Painting in Your Home
Stacy Lynn Waddell’s painting is inspired by The Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer (1899), from the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use Google’s free Arts and Culture app to place Homer’s painting in your home. You will be able to see Waddell’s inspiration in real size.—Felicia Ingram, Manager of Interpretation, Accessibility, and Diversity
Films Highlighting Black Americans in History
These films depict pivotal moments in American history through the perspective of Black Americans. They show the impact of these events on the nation and highlight the important roles Black Americans played.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Harriet (2019). Director: Kaci Lemmons. Harriet Tubman’s extraordinary escape from slavery and her transformation into one of America's greatest heroes. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Selma (2014). Director: Ava Duvernay. The historic march that became a milestone victory for the civil rights movement. Watch free on YouTube or Amazon.
Mudbound (2017). Director: Dee Rees. Two Mississippi families confront the brutal realities of prejudice in the World War II era. Watch on Netflix.
Da 5 Bloods (2020). Director: Spike Lee. Four African American veterans of the Vietnam War return decades later seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and a gold fortune. Watch on Netflix.
Stacy Lynn Waddell uses her signature technique—the burning, singeing, and branding of papers and fabric—to create mixed-media works. This specialized incineration process, which forms a sepia or black stain, allows golden, ghostly figures to emerge, dreamlike, through the surface of papers and canvases. When these images are combined with large-scale photo reproductions, the viewer is absorbed into an installation that is both familiar and strange, both spectral and ultrarealistic. Learn more about this work of art on NCMALearn, as well as additional resources for parents for addressing bias, racial identity, and inequity with children.
We are honored to work with community partners through our Mindful Museum series. Learn more about two of these partners and teachers. Colors of Yoga is Raleigh’s only Black-owned yoga studio. Join their inclusive yoga community here. Every Friday in June, they are holding closed classes for Black people called Soul Care; see all their virtual class offerings here. Michelle C. Johnson is an activist, empath, and intuitive healer based out of Winston-Salem. She specializes in the intersection of yoga and social justice. Learn more about her Skill in Action book and current online trainings here.
Virtual Storytime with Liberation Station
Coming to you from the beautiful NCMA galleries we all miss so much, Victoria Scott-Miller of Liberation Station bookstore offers a series of readings and book recommendations for young people and their families, using art and literature to build bridges. The first installment of this new monthly program is available on YouTube.
“When I think of Juneteenth and after viewing Stacey Lynn Waddell's piece The Gulf Stream (After Winslow Homer), the first thoughts that come to mind are displacement of freedom, one that is everywhere but nowhere at all, and how celebration ignites an opportunity to reclaim our joy, our hope, and ultimately the displaced freedom. When this is truly found from within, we are able to manifest and harness our wildest dreams, the dreams that are often placed in back pockets or hidden in our minds.”—Victoria Scott-Miller, owner of Liberation Station
NCMA in Dialogue: A Musical Journey through American Race Relations
Join us on Thursday, July 2, from 7 to 8:30 pm for a free webinar and Q&A on the impact of Black music on American culture, identity, and social progress. Through his wealth of experience working with groups of all ages, cultural activist and musician Eric Dozier shines a light at the crossroads of music and American race relations. He performs songs and discusses key musical figures and themes from the abolition, civil rights, labor, and antiwar movements, as well as other contemporary voices of change. These songs, and the stories that surround them, offer vivid insight as a crucial ingredient in these struggles for progress and unity. More details about the event and how to sign up are here.
Hank Willis Thomas, Ernest and Ruth, 2015, painted steel, H. 83 x W. 96 x D. 24 in., Gift of Pat and Tom Gipson
Contemporary artist Hank Willis Thomas challenges viewers to address history, race, class, gender, and identity by magnifying the lens of popular culture, advertising, and marketing. Thomas is fascinated, he says, with how “history and culture are framed, who is doing the framing, and how these factors affect our interpretation of reality.” In the Museum Park, Ernest and Ruth (2015)—a pair of sculptures by Thomas shaped like cartoon thought or speech bubbles—offers visitors a place to sit and interact with the work of art and each other. “When viewers occupy the piece,” he says, pointing to our shared responsibility, “they are encouraged to contemplate what it means to inhabit their own speech and beliefs.” Learn more about this work of art from the artist in the video below.
Black on Black Project Curated Conversations: What's the origin of the pain?
The confluence of recent events has led to more than a week of protests around the country, including in North Carolina. Instead of dwelling on the protests, Black on Black Project founder Michael S. Williams wants to go deeper and explore why so many citizens are in pain. Williams will lead a conversation and virtual premiere of his short film, a performance piece that looks at some of the slave history of the Dorothea Dix property in Raleigh. The conversation includes poet Johnny Lee Chapman III, dancer Anthony “Ay-Jaye” Nelson Jr., photographer Jade Wilson, and Angela Thorpe, director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. More details about the event and how to sign up are here.
Poetry Reading: “Oh My Brother”
“I wrote ‘Oh My Brother’ several years ago. A poet in New York invited other poets nationwide to submit poetry for the Poetry of Lamentation Online Anthology created to memorialize the murdered and symbolize solidarity with grieving families across the United States whose loved ones are being murdered by law enforcement. Again, writers, musicians, dancers, sculptors, and all artists are called upon to use our creativity to declare, agitate, and resist. We will not perish as long as we remember the righteous fire and light inside our artistic utterances.”—Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate
Inhabiting Our Speech: Learning and Talking about Race
The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission works to achieve the mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting North Carolina’s African American history, art, and culture, for all people. The AAHC’s initiatives include Freedom Roads, which recognizes the freedom seekers and roads, rivers, and ports across the state crucial to the efforts of enslaved African Americans seeking freedom, and the NC Green Book Project, which highlights the experiences of African American travelers during the Jim Crow Era in North Carolina.
AAHC Director Angela Thorpe shares two resources for educating ourselves on racial equity and talking about race with friends, family, or children.
Powerful Pairing: Hank Willis Thomas and Aaron Douglas
This reflection is inspired by the Museum's Interchanges installations, which pair works of art across time periods and mediums to face challenging histories head on.
Hank Willis Thomas’s large-scale photograph The Cotton Bowl (2011) juxtaposes a football player crouching on a yard line with a mirror image of an enslaved man crouching to pick cotton. By altering and combining familiar images, icons, and logos, the artist raises questions about how history is negotiated, mitigated, and reconciled in the present.
Aaron Douglas’s painting Harriet Tubman (1931), currently on loan from Bennett College in Greensboro, lauds the courageous Underground Railroad conductor. In the picture one man holds a hoe, symbolizing the freedom to farm independently; a young woman reads a book, the freedom to gain education; a third man lies back enjoying his leisure time and staring raptly at a towering city. Though Tubman looks back, her stride is forward, leading people onward. Douglas wrote that he portrayed Tubman “as a heroic leader breaking the shackles of bondage and pressing on toward a new day.” She and others changed the course of history by helping to bring about an end to slavery.
Hank, Willis Thomas, The Cotton Bowl, 2011, digital chromogenic print, 65 x 96 in., Gift of the North Carolina Museum of Art Contemporaries
Aaron Douglas, Harriet Tubman, 1931, oil on canvas, framed 49 3/4 x 73 1/2 in., On loan from Bennett College for Women Collection, Greensboro, North Carolina
Virtual Slow Art Appreciation
Join Angela Thorpe, director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, in reflecting on Aaron Douglas’s painting Harriet Tubman. This free virtual program on Wednesday, June 17, from 7 to 8 pm, guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of the piece. Discussion is encouraged. See more details here. For ages 16 and up.
These films by black filmmakers address and depict issues of race and injustice and provide new perspectives on how to think and talk about these issues. See more recommendations here.
13th (2016). Director: Ava DuVernay. This documentary looks at how race and the justice system are linked to the mass incarceration of black Americans. Watch on Netflix.
I Am Not Your Negro (2016). Director: Raoul Peck. This documentary uses a collection of James Baldwin’s notes and letters on race in America to explore his legacy and activism. Watch on Amazon or rent on YouTube or iTunes.
Fruitvale Station (2013). Director: Ryan Coogler. The true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, who becomes swept up in an altercation with police that ends in tragedy. Watch free on Tubi.
Family reading recommendations
Hank Willis Thomas’s sculpture Ernest and Ruth makes us think about how families can turn to art and literature to start difficult conversations about race and racism in their lives and community. Here is a selection of books about racism and social justice for all ages.
West Mexican, Colima state, Dog Effigy, circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E., ceramic with red slip paint, H. 11 x W. 9 3/4 x D. 15 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Mace Neufeld
A favorite and constant companion
Mesoamerican societies—for whom dogs were allies in life and death—placed dogs in tombs because they were considered guides to the underworld, which was a journey with dangerous trials. One of these challenges was crossing a river, and only a dog could help you reach the other side.
The animal most frequently depicted in Colima art is the Mexican hairless dog, known as xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee) by the Aztecs of the 15th century. In West Mexico, where the NCMA’s Dog Effigy came from, mourners placed ceramic guide dogs in tombs because they were considered proper company for the dead.
Video Visit with a Curator
Learn more about these hairless dogs; their importance to indigenous communities, both yesterday and today; and how artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera helped recover their significance to Mexican pride and heritage.—Ángel Gonzalez, GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Research Fellow
Live Drawing Room with Your Pets
Since we can’t get together for our annual Sit, Stay, NCMA dog party in the Museum Park, we’ve created a collection of virtual content for dogs and humans to still have a great time. Join Bill Thelen, artist and founder of Lump Projects, and a panel of dog-loving artists for a live drawing event on Friday, May 29, from 7 to 9 pm. The drawing prompts are pet-inspired, so make sure your dog/cat/bird/turtle/pony is there to help inspire and guide you. Sign up to be one of just 100 participants creating, drawing, and hanging out (from a distance!).
Pen Pals Wanted
Write to Xolo! Our friend Xolo, pronounced show low, is feeling lonely and cooped up during this Covid-19 pandemic, and he’s looking for pen pals of all ages! Xolo speaks Spanish and English, and he is an expert traveler and a loyal guardian. Please write a letter to Xolo, telling him about your time at home, your home-school experiences, past travels, and more. You can also ask Xolo questions. Letters can be mailed to 4630 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. Attn: Xolo.
Your being at home more might be the best thing that ever happened to your dog, but that will change when we venture out more and maybe go back to work. Our Sit, Stay, NCMA partners at Dynamic Dogs have created tips for keeping you and your best friend happy while being at home together and also for preventing separation anxiety when that time comes.
Paw Print Art Making
Learn how to create a sweet paw print keepsake from salt dough. This simple craft uses materials that can be found at home.
Did you know that Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera owned xolo dogs? They were seen in some of Kahlo’s paintings in the fall 2019 exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, and in the Casa Azul immersive room that took visitors into the couple’s Mexican home. In case you missed it, here is the immersive room we created with OLO Creative Farm. It recently won a GLAMi Award from Museums and the Web.—Felicia Knise Ingram, Manager of Interpretation
In honor of our Dog Effigy, we encourage you to have a movie night with your pets and watch one or all of these films that feature dogs.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Best in Show (2000). Director: Christopher Guest. A diverse group of characters competes at a national dog show. This is the film we had planned to screen this summer at Sit, Stay, NCMA. Rent on YouTube, iTunes, or Amazon.
Isle of Dogs (2018). Director: Wes Anderson. A boy's odyssey in search of his lost dog. This innovative animated film was shown at last year’s Sit, Stay, NCMA. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Coco (2017). Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich. A xolo dog named Dante accompanies a boy named Miguel on his journey into the Land of the Dead. Rent on YouTube or Amazon, or watch on Disney+. Also see this short video about xolo dogs and Coco on YouTube.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993). Director: Duwayne Dunham. Family-friendly story of a bulldog, a cat, and a golden retriever who embark on a journey through the wilderness. Rent on YouTube, iTunes, or Amazon, or watch on Disney+.
Make a pinch pot in the shape of a pet, listen to a bilingual podcast, or borrow a book about Aztecs online. Details and more ideas inspired by Dog Effigy at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Make an Animal Softie
In this lesson students will learn about the xoloitzcuintli sacred to the Aztec people and make their own animal comfort objects.—Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Heritage of Power: Ancient Sculpture from West Mexico. The Andrall E. Pearson Family Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains over 40 figures, which represent all three of the major styles of West Mexican ceramic sculpture, named for the states of Colima, Jalisco, and Nayarit. Depictions of animals and birds, such as the well-known xoloitzcuintle dogs, originated primarily in Colima.—Erin Rutherford, NCMA Library Assistant
Do yoga with your dog! This is a fun and peaceful practice that can also deepen the bond with your pet. Join Victoria Haffer, M.S.—mental health coach, yoga therapist, and professional dog trainer—for this short, all-level practice with your pup. Cats might love it, too!
This recording is an audio description of the work of art. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension. This description is in both English and Spanish; the Spanish description starts five minutes into the recording.
Music for the Soul’s Journey
While not much is known about Mesoamerican music preceding the culture’s encounter with Europeans, some present-day musicians have imagined what this music might have sounded like, drawing inspiration from visual representations of ancient instruments and drawing from traditional performances by indigenous communities. This playlist features works by Jorge Reyes, a Mexican artist, multi-instrumentalist, and ethnomusicologist; it is specifically focused on music inspired by myths about the soul’s journey to the underworld.—Ángel González López, GSK Postdoctoral Fellow
Beth Lipman, Bride, 2010, glass, wood, paint, and glue, H. 120 x W. 90 x D. 90 in., Purchased with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hanes in honor of Dr. Emily Farnham, by exchange
Bride, Beth Lipman’s five-tiered, 10-foot-tall, monumental still life contains more than 500 individual glass elements stacked carefully, knocked over, arranged thoughtfully, broken, melted, and shattered. Reminiscent of both a wedding dress and a cake, it’s also deeply connected to art historical traditions.—Jennifer Dasal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Interchange: Beth Lipman Meets Frans Snyders
Recognizing the often-strict borders between art historical genres and time periods, NCMA curators have paired seemingly unrelated works of art in a series of installations titled Interchanges, meant to challenge and interrupt preconceptions. While the galleries remain closed, we deliver an interchange to your inbox, connecting Bride to a Flemish still life from the 1600s.
Like Bride, Frans Snyders’s Market Scene on a Quay (circa 1635–40) presents a densely packed and creative assembly of objects. Both works play with order and chaos, life and death, and stability and fragility, making them an engaging, if somewhat unnerving, pair. Artist Beth Lipman took direct inspiration from this painting, including one of the kittens and birds in Bride’s bottom tier. Snyders and his workshop invented this scene, combining meat and fish, items not sold together in marketplaces, and showcasing his ability to paint different surfaces and textures, which highlights his impressive artistic skill. Similarly, Bride presents a monumental collection of glass objects, demonstrating Lipman’s mastery of different glassmaking techniques.
Beth Lipman, Bride, 2010, glass, wood, paint, and glue, H. 120 x W. 90 x D. 90 in., Purchased with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hanes in honor of Dr. Emily Farnham, by exchange
Frans Snyders and Workshop, Market Scene on a Quay, circa 1635–40, oil on canvas, 79 5/16 x 135 1/4 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina
Still Life and Real Life
Bride’s multilayered still life alludes to the layers of a wedding cake, the flounces of an elaborate bridal gown, and still-life paintings throughout art history, with selected elements inspired by works in the Museum collection. (Can you spot a plate of fish that appears in Pieter Aertsen’s 16th-century market scene painting A Meat Stall or the 19th-century Ottoman Esther Scroll and Case from the Judaic collection?) Scroll through our Matrimony at the Museum Pinterest board to see how these celebrations for real-life brides (and grooms) were also inspired by the Museum collection.—Karlie Marlowe, Director of Marketing and Communications
NCMA intern and UNC–Chapel Hill art history major Jordan Wolfe spoke with artist Beth Lipman about her past and upcoming works, exploring the ways in which time and society influence pieces like Bride. (We also discovered her love of masking tape, as she creatively improvised a video setup in her studio to chat with us!) Lipman details her conceptions of the "chasm between the ideal and reality," as well as her process of creation through destruction.—Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement
Local Artist Connection
Couture designer Austin Scarlett, who appeared on the first season of fashion design competition Project Runway, Project Runway All Stars, and spin-off series On the Road with Austin and Santino, talks from his home in North Carolina about all things fashion, sharing where he draws inspiration, the joy of seeing a finished gown on a client, and how a wedding dress comes together. Learn more from the designer in the video below.—Kat Harding, Public Relations Manager
Glassblowing around the World
Glassblowing is an art form practiced all over the world. Here are some fun videos on how glassblowing is practiced in Mexico, Austria, and Italy.—Felicia Ingram Manager of Interpretation, and Cara Greene, Interpretation Intern
Artisans in Murano, Italy, have been making glass objects for over 1,000 years. Watch as they create a chandelier.
The rich artistic tradition of North Carolina is exemplified in the Penland School of Craft, an educational arts center in the mountains, where artist Beth Lipman has taught glass workshops. The school's workshops offer immersive, material-based learning and a supportive community, welcoming students of all skill levels. Artist residencies support full-time makers, and a beautiful gallery works to expand public understanding of craft. Learn more about Penland in the video below.—Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement
A Puzzling Development
The demand for puzzles has emptied the shelves of many distributors and has driven this activity digital. While we sometimes wish we could create physical versions of our best-loved pieces, puzzle factories have yet to be listed as essential services, so we’ve created a puzzle for you to try on your screen at home. The 17th-century Market Scene on a Quay (Frans Snyders and Workshop) hangs next to Beth Lipman’s glass sculpture and served as a point of reference for many objects she included in her piece. Once you’ve finished the digital puzzle, you might be able to spot them on a future visit!—Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement
Create a fantastical table scene using found images. Read along with a story about a girl glassblower. Find these and other ideas inspired by Bride at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Educational Lesson Plan
In this NCMALearn lesson plan students will engage in sensory play and make a cardboard sculpture inspired by Beth Lipman’s Bride.—Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Here Comes the Headache
Bride brings to mind three films about seemingly perfect weddings that turn into spectacles of unraveling brides, shattered illusions, and revealing truths.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Wild Tales / Relatos Salvajes (2014). Director: Damián Szifron. In this Argentinian anthology’s final segment, “Hasta que la muerte nos separe / Till Death Do Us Part,” a bride discovers a secret that drives her into a fit of rage. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Melancholia (2011). Director: Lars Von Trier. The strained relationship of two sisters is put to the test at a wedding on the day that a mysterious planet threatens to collide with Earth. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Rachel Getting Married (2008). Director: Jonathan Demme. Rachel prepares for her elaborate wedding while trying to deal with her recovering drug-addicted sister. Rent on YouTube or Amazon.
Blown Away (2019). Reality show series where ten master artists compete in glassblowing sculpture challenges. Watch on Netflix.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Mirroring the excessive, decadent, and eternal presence of Beth Lipman's Bride, Charles Dickens's character Miss Havisham insists on wearing her wedding dress for the rest of her days.—Erin Rutherford, Library Assistant
The recording below is an audio description of Bride. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Look closely at Beth Lipman’s five-tiered sculpture, and you will find that this glass “wedding cake” descends into chaos. Lipman describes glass as representing mortality: “It is strong and fragile, elusive and concrete, fleeting and eternal,” much like the complex emotion of love, both lamented and celebrated in this playlist we hope you enjoy.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager for the NCMA Amphitheater
Giotto di Bondone and assistants, The “Peruzzi Altarpiece,” circa 1310–15, H. 41 5/8 x W. 98 1/2 x D. 6 in. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
The Florentine painter, sculptor, and architect Giotto di Bondone was the most celebrated artist of his day. By the time the Peruzzi altarpiece was painted, around 1310, he was known throughout the Italian peninsula as the best and most innovative painter. Poets and chroniclers of the 14th and 15th centuries praised his ability to paint figures and gestures al naturale (in a lifelike manner) as well as his success and fame.
What distinguishes Giotto’s paintings from those of his 13th-century Tuscan predecessors is the sculptural quality of his figures—they are more three-dimensional than flat—and their emotional and psychological realism that suggests they are human. These qualities in Giotto’s art have led generations of art historians to credit him with sparking the artistic revolution known as the Italian Renaissance.
The Peruzzi altarpiece is one of only 40 works belonging to the Giotto “canon” established by Giotto’s earliest biographer, the Florentine artist Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378–1455). Half of the works mentioned by Ghiberti have survived, and our altarpiece is among the small number of complete altarpieces. Of those, it is the only one preserved outside of Europe.
Local Artist Connection
Christopher Holt, the artist behind the exhibition Contemporary Frescoes/Faith and Community, talks from his home in Asheville about his appreciation for Giotto's altarpiece and its connection to the fresco he created at the Haywood Street Church. In this video Holt describes how the practice of making art can achieve its own spiritual level, how connections to his community informs his art, and what it means to have this altarpiece featured at the NCMA.
Global Artist Connection
Giotto was known for his skill as a fresco painter. Succeeding generations of artists—including Michelangelo —studied and emulated him. If you are interested in seeing Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel frescoes of 1508–12 up close, check out this free Epic Games VR experience, “IL DIVINO: Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling in VR”. Using an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Valve Index, you can explore the religious paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You will find many of the same figures in our Giotto altarpiece and others in our collection. Don’t have a VR headset? You can view the Sistine Chapel in 360 degrees with the Vatican Museum. —Felicia K Ingram, Manager of Interpretation
A Word from the Curator
Most scholars agree the Peruzzi altarpiece was executed by Giotto as part of a decorative program designed for the private chapel of the Peruzzi family in the great Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence, founded in 1294. From 1311 to 1315, Giotto covered the chapel’s walls with frescoes illustrating stories of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist—the Peruzzi family’s two titular saints—and probably created the altarpiece now in Raleigh, around the same time. It was designed to rest on top of the central altar and serve as the focal point and backdrop for the celebration of the mass. The frescoes are still in situ in the chapel, so it is not difficult to imagine the altarpiece in its original setting, a lavishly decorated but intimate space that itself was part of a magnificent, orchestrated tableau, the east wall of Florence’s grand new church, just a few steps from the high altar. Read more about Giotto and the altarpiece on NCMALearn.—Lyle Humphrey, Associate Curator of European Art and Collection History
Séraphine (2008). Director: Michael Provos. (In French with subtitles.) Séraphine de Senlis is a simple and devout housekeeper who finds that the act of painting brings her spiritual fulfillment. Watch on YouTube, Amazon Prime, or iTunes.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
A Room with a View (1985). Director: James Ivory. Academy Award–winning film based on the E. M. Forster novel of the same name is set in Florence and features landmarks such as the Piazza Della Signoria and the Church of Santa Croce. Watch on YouTube, Amazon Prime, or iTunes.—Lyle Humphrey, Associate Curator of European Art and Collection History
Altars, Altars, Everywhere
Take a brief and inspiring journey with Karama Thomas—Triangle-based “songspeller,” astrologer, and storyteller—on her land in Durham as she discusses her spiritual practice of building small nature altars. This process connects her to the land and her voice as an artist.
Music as Spiritual Practice
Nearly every culture uses music in spiritual practice, perhaps in meditation as the Sufi whirling dervishes do, or perhaps in praise of a Great Creator, as in the case of Gregorian monks. We hope you enjoy this beautiful Indian bhajan raag. “Bhajan” refers to a devotional song that often follows the melodic framework of Indian classical music, known as “raag” or “raga.” While a raga provides the musical motif in which the musicians operate, it is free form, and performances are improvised.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, NCMA Amphitheater
The recording below is an audio description of ThePeruzzi Altarpiece. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Create a gold medallion or family portrait. Download a free digital copy of a book about Giotto as a boy. Find these and other ideas inspired by the Peruzzi Altarpiece at NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Here is a mixture of articles, historical fiction, blogs, and more reading recommendations around the intersection of art and spirituality.—Natalia Lonchyna, Librarian, and Erin Rutherford, Library Assistant
A Psychology Today blog entry on the “priceless living bridge between mind and spirit.”
A Month in Siena by Hiram Matar. A Libyan author reflects on Sienese paintings to work through difficult times in his life, reflecting, “The painting understands this. It knows that what we wish for most, even more than paradise, is to be recognized; that regardless of how transformed and transfigured we might be by the passage, something of us might sustain and remain perceptible to those we have spent so long loving.”
The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. Vreeland's novel tells the story of how artist Emily Carr found her artistic, feminist, and spiritual power painting First Nations villages, Pacific Northwest Indian totems, and the forests of British Columbia.
Auguste Rodin, The Cathedral, modeled 1908, Musée Rodin cast 1955, H. 25 1/4 x W. 12 3/4 x D. 13 1/2 in., bronze, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
Rodin glorified nature as it is, finding beauty in ugliness and going against the prevailing artistic trend of perfecting nature’s flaws. That’s what makes his sculptures feel so modern. In presenting the world as he saw it, Rodin created works of art that speak to universal human emotion and connection.
His skill in making the intimate monumental is on full view in The Cathedral, a pair of large, intertwining right hands. Evoking prayer as much as the pointed arches of a Gothic cathedral, Rodin’s sculpture showcases the best of his ability to capture something divine in this gentle human touch, larger than life-size and put on display for generations to enjoy and contemplate.
Video Visit with Curator Michele Frederick
Join Michele Frederick, associate curator of European art, to learn more about what makes Auguste Rodin’s sculptures feel so modern, even 100 years after his death.
Gothic Cathedrals around the World
The beautiful shape of the two hands in Rodin’s sculpture brings to mind the vault of a Gothic cathedral—hence the title. We invite you to explore Gothic cathedrals and architecture around the world.—Felicia K. Ingram, Manager of Interpretation
To begin your tour, check out these panoramic videos:
How can art and science overlap? A 2014 exhibition at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, Inside Rodin's Hands: Art, Technology, and Surgery, integrated high-tech imaging with the art of Rodin in partnership with the university’s Department of Surgery. Watch the video to learn more about the project’s 3-D modeling of hands sculpted by Rodin.
Rodin’s Lost-Wax Casting Process
Making Rodin’s The Cathedral was a time-consuming, painstaking journey from plaster model, to impression, to wax, to granulated ceramic model, and finally to complete bronze sculpture. See the full process at NCMALearn.
Film Series on Gratitude
Rodin’s The Cathedral reminds us of the power and fragility of human life and inspires us to reflect on what we are grateful for. This week we recommend a series of short films about gratitude.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs Gratitude Revealed. Director: Louie Schwartzberg. Fifteen short films that explore the science, mystery, and meaning of gratitude.
The Museum’s collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures is a constant favorite, and The Cathedral inspires in us feelings of gratitude for the wonder of this work of art. We acknowledge that gratitude can be a mixed emotion, one inspired by sheer joy and one inspired by memories accompanied by regret.
This week we highlight Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays.” We invite you to write a poem expressing gratitude, in whatever form you are experiencing it, and to share it with the tag @ncartmuseum. You can find a fuller discussion of this topic at NCMALearn.—Katherine White, Deputy Director
The recording below is an audio description of The Cathedral. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Connecting through Music
The Cathedral reminds us of the importance of meditation, reflection, and connection. Exploring gratitude can lead to tenderness of heart, joy, and often healing. We hope this playlist can accompany you through this emotive process.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, NCMA Amphitheater
Taking Rodin’s The Cathedral as your inspiration, create a family hand portrait. Ideas for this project and others are on NCMALearn, along with read-aloud ideas on the themes of gratitude and giving.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Healing Hands of Gratitude and Comfort
The Cathedral portrays human connection and the healing power of reaching out for each other. Despite physical distance, you can still practice finding this connection through a short, kid-friendly “thankful thoughts” meditation with Growga and these simple self-soothing touch techniques.
Yayoi Kusama, LIGHT OF LIFE, 2018, mirrored box and LED lighting system, H. 86 5/8 x W. 84 1/4 x D. 72 7/8 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest) and the bequest of Carlyle Adams, with additional funding from James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, and Dr. W. Kent Davis and Dr. Carlos Garcia-Velez
Among Yayoi Kusama’s most celebrated works are her “infinity rooms,” intimate yet expansive kaleidoscopic interiors with seemingly endless reflections that create fantastic illusions of infinite space. LIGHT OF LIFE is one of the artist’s recent works, made in 2018, when the artist was 88. It consists of a mirrored, hexagon-shaped structure with three openings or portholes at different heights that enable the viewer to look inside the “room” and experience a dazzling—and perspective-shifting—show of colored light and pattern. The work invites both a personal, individual experience and a shared, social experience. When you look inside, you see yourself reflected on the walls of the mirrored chamber, and you also see the reflections of anyone else looking through the other portals, as you all become part of the work of art.
LIGHT OF LIFE was the final acquisition made under Dr. Lawrence J. Wheeler, the NCMA’s director from 1994 to 2018. When recently asked why he wanted Kusama’s work at the NCMA, he replied, “It immediately connects to the 21st-century public, everyone is fascinated by it, and it is one of the most accessible works of contemporary art in the NCMA collection, without the need of guidance, interpretation, or explanation.”
Now 91, Kusama has had a long career as an artist and continues to experiment with new media and technology, exploring the possibility of capturing the infinite in her artwork. “Thousands of illuminated colors blinking at the speed of light,” says the artist. “Isn’t this the very illusion of Life in our transient world?”
Video Visit with Curator Jennifer Dasal
Join Jennifer Dasal, curator of modern and contemporary art, to learn about Yayoi Kusama’s LIGHT OF LIFE. Joyful, playful, serene, intense, simple, profound—LIGHT OF LIFE is all these things, and more.
The NCMA Presents Drawing Room
Join Bill Thelen, artist and founder of Lump Gallery, and artist/NCMA staff member Julia Caston for a live drawing event Friday, May 1, from 7 to 9 pm. Sign up to be one of just 100 participants creating, drawing, and hanging out (from a distance!). Joining the hosts are a cast of Triangle artists, some from the NCMA's annual Monster Drawing Rally, to share their work and creative process. Ask questions and chat with artists while creating at home. Register to participate here, or tune into the YouTube video below to watch live or access the recorded session in the future.
Our cocktail collaboration began with seeing photos and videos of Yayoi Kusama’s LIGHT OF LIFE. We wanted to capture the enigmatic hue the light creates while homing in on the idea of looking into infinity. We riffed on the classic Aviation cocktail by adding sake for a bright lychee flavor and as a nod to the artist’s Japanese heritage. See the recipe here.—Neal Benefield, General Manager, and Connor Gunipero, Bar Manager, Hawthorne and Wood, Chapel Hill
Dramatic Readings Inspired by LIGHT OF LIFE
In the spirit of LIGHT OF LIFE, we invite you to connect with those with whom you are sheltering in place to deliver a dramatic interpretation of a Shel Silverstein poem that resonates with Kusama’s “infinity room.” Watch the video example below, then pick a poem to interpret. Share your videos with us on social media, tagging @ncartmuseum.
LIGHT OF LIFE uses light and space to create an immersive experience, joining the Museum collection 2018 after being featured in the NCMA’s special exhibition "You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences." That same summer, First Aid Kit brought their Rebel Heart tour to the Museum’s amphitheater stage as part of the summer concert series, accompanied by what Atlas Stageworks, our concert lighting contractors, dubbed one of the best light shows the Museum has hosted.That’s all thanks to First Aid Kit’s lighting director, Franki McDade. Click through this Facebook album to see some of McDade's work and learn more about the thought behind the displays.
Infinity in Film
Enjoy a documentary on Kusama’s life, plus three experimental shorts with visuals that evoke LIGHT OF LIFE.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Kusama: Infinity (2018). Director: Heather Lenz. An intriguing and entertaining account of Yayoi Kusama’s life and work. Watch on Hulu. Rent on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
Allures (1961). Director: Jordan Belson. Using abstract patterns and sound and light effects, this short film creates what the director calls “a feeling of moving into the void.” Watch on YouTube.
Catalog (1961). Director: John Whitney. This demo reel of Whitney’s work created with an analog computer he built became a classic of 1960s psychedelia. Watch on YouTube.
An Optical Poem (1938). Director: Oskar Fischinger. Geometric shapes and abstract forms spin and dance to the rhythm of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Watch on YouTube.
This audio recording is spoken by Vincent Lombardi, Audio Describer. Audio Description (AD) is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Get inspired by Kusama’s love of polka dots and create your own art using circular stickers. Find more ideas for family activities—plus a read-aloud video—on NCMALearn.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Create fun connect-the-dots puzzles— inspired by the “Queen of Polka Dots”—for your friends and family to complete! Use Picture Dots to upload a favorite image and build your own puzzle. Try it out in this connect-the-dots puzzle (with bonus coloring sheet featuring LIGHT OF LIFE) that we created for you! It’s inspired by another iconic work of art by Yayoi Kusama.
Educational Lesson Plan
Students can use their ingenuity and problem-solving skills to create micro worlds inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama. This NCMALearn lesson plan can be an individual or group project.—Jill Taylor, Manager of School and Teacher Programs
Dancing Lightly through Life
Follow along with this playful and all-level short yoga practice inspired by LIGHT OF LIFE. Join Patrice Graham, owner of Raleigh’s Colors of Yoga studio, to kindle your inner light and let your true self shine, just like Kusama. Enjoy more Colors of Yoga virtual classes.
Frederick Carl Frieseke, The Garden Parasol, 1910, oil on canvas, 57 1/8 x 77 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina, 1973, and dedicated in memory of Moussa M. Domit, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art (1974–1980), by the NCMA Board of Trustees
When asked his artistic goals, Frederick Frieseke declared, “it is sunshine, flowers in sunshine; girls in sunshine; the nude in sunshine.” The emphasis upon light marks Frieseke as a disciple of the impressionists. However, in contrast to the impressionists, he focused his attention not on landscape but on the female figure and the private lives of women. The Garden Parasol evokes the serene pleasure of a summer in the French countryside. The setting is the garden of the Friesekes’ house at Giverny, close to the home and gardens of the venerable impressionist painter Claude Monet. The seated woman is the artist’s wife, Sadie, and the garden was her special creation. Frieseke depicts her as a cultivated woman of leisure whose reading is interrupted by the arrival of a visitor—or visitors—for it is our approach that distracts Sadie from her book and prompts her to fix us with a questioning stare. Whatever small drama might arise from so genteel an encounter is fully upstaged by the vibrancy of the garden, and especially by the Japanese parasol that spices the scene with swirling colors.
Art in Bloom Connection
Pim van den Akker, a Dutch master florist, has said that it is easy to create a beautiful flower arrangement: your medium is already beautiful. More challenging is to create floral art, to make your audience feel the beauty, or longing, or other emotion in your work. This was the primary focus of my recent studies to earn my European Master’s Certification.—Terry Godfrey, Art in Bloom floral designer
Take a virtual tour of the Kew Gardens in London. Can you spot any plants that we have in the Museum Park? (Hint: Keep an eye out for water lilies, which can be found in the reflecting pools outside West Building.)
The recording below is an audio description of Garden Parasol. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
Gardens in Film
Gardens can serve as a haven or an escape, can teach us lessons about nature and life, and can provide sustenance and empower a community.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Curator’s choice from John Coffey, Deputy Director for Research, the Jim and Betty Becher Curator of American and Modern Art, and Curator of Judaic Art: Smiles of a Summer Night (1955). Director: Ingmar Bergman. Rent on YouTube.
Enchanted April (1991). Director: Mike Newell. Four women go on holiday in Italy and discover hope and beauty in their surroundings. Rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.
This Beautiful Fantastic (2016). Director: Simon Aboud. A contemporary fairytale set against the backdrop of a beautiful garden in London. Watch free on YouTube.
Can You Dig This (2015). Director: Delila Vallot. Documentary that profiles urban gardeners in South Los Angeles. Rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.
Mort Garson’s 1976 album, Mother Earth’s Plantasia, was meant to be played for plants as well as people. Garson, one of the first to compose with Moog synthesizers, is considered a founding father of electronic music. Listen to the album on Spotify.
Sonic artist Mileece translates the natural bioemissions of plants and their interaction with humans into harmonic soundscapes or “organic electronic music.” Learn more about Mileece’s process in the video.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager for the NCMA Amphitheater
Poetry and Short Story Connections
While The Garden Parasol offers a view of an early 20th-century woman at leisure, the turn of the century brought the emergence of more modern understandings of femininity. Head to NCMALearn to read a lyrical poem (and get ideas for writing your own) and a short story that challenges Victorian ideals.—Katherine White, Deputy Director
Click over to NCMALearn for some family activities, like creating your own sun-printed fabric, and listening to a podcast about Nobel winner Wangari Maathai, who planted trees across Kenya.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, Angie Faulk, Manager of Camps, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Color your own The Garden Parasol using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your creation on social media @ncartmuseum.
Educational Lesson Plan
Invite students to decorate paper lanterns inspired by The Garden Parasol. Students will read and think about summer gardens and participate in a lantern walk through this NCMALearn lesson plan.—Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Looking for a dose of art between scrolling and jumping on a conference call? We created phone wallpapers featuring works of art from the NCMA's collection and views of the Museum Park. Save to your phone and change your wallpaper in your settings. See the wallpapers here.
Mindful Museum: Grounding with 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
The Garden Parasol is a feast for the eyes. This week’s mindfulness exercise activates the other senses, as well, in a strategy you can use at any time you feel overwhelmed.—Michelle Harrell, Director of Education
In the Garden, on the Blog
Is sipping tea in a frilly white dress under a glorious parasol not really your style? If your idea of creative expression is digging up dirt, this Circa post by Rachel Woods, curator of horticulture and sustainability at the NCMA, will have you rethinking ways to improve your backyard retreat.
Getting Started with Urban Gardening
One of the pleasures a garden can provide is the satisfaction of growing your own food. Bring delicious fruits and vegetables from your yard to your table! Whether you have a large yard or just a patio to work with, here are several ways to create a productive garden.—Rachel Woods, Curator of Horticulture and Sustainability, NCMA
El Anatsui, Lines That Link Humanity, 2008, discarded aluminum and copper wire, (irregular) 18 x 25 ft., Gift of Barbara and Sam Wells
Lines That Link Humanity is constructed from recycled liquor bottle caps and newspaper printing plates that were folded, hammered, crushed, and stitched together by a team of artists in El Anatsui’s Nigerian studio. In his choice of materials, Anatsui calls to mind the illicit trade of human bodies for liquor during the transatlantic slave trade. The significance for him lies not in the ingenuity of recycling, but in the power of human touch and the interconnected histories, fates, and circumstances of people and cultures worldwide. Indeed, this unique work is “site responsive,” and each time it is moved or reinstalled, a new layer of history and memory is embedded within the aluminum itself.
In our present moment of isolation and social distancing, it’s perhaps ironic to feature a work that hinges on our global connectivity and that relies on the transformative potential of human touch. At the same time, it allows us a moment to slow down and consider how connected we all still are, and how much we rely on one another.
The Art of Installing Lines That Link Humanity
NCMA Conservator Perry Hurt loves collaborating with El Anatsui every time he rehangs this masterwork. Watch to learn the artist's perspective on the changing nature of his wall sculptures.
Collaborative Community Project
Lines That Link Humanity, viewed up close, contains thousands of small pieces touched by countless human hands. from production, use, disposal, and back to creation anew. From a distance we see how all of those pieces are united to form a larger tapestry of colors to create a quiltlike artwork. In the spirit of celebrating our collective unity, we want to assemble the individual faces of our fellow North Carolinians into a mosaic of our own, as part of our way of holding together in community during this time of separation. Upload your most flattering, silliest, or most dramatic selfies (just make sure they’re appropriate for all audiences), and over the coming weeks we will use them to re-create a favorite from the Museum collection.
Learn about other African artists with Afripedia. Connect with artists from countries throughout Africa, and watch artists like Cyrus Kabiru who, like El Anatsui, creates art from recycled material, as well as Serge Attukwei Clottey, who makes art from plastic.
The recording below is an audio description of Lines That Link Humanity. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.
The NCMA Offstage videos feature musicians from our annual summer concert series performing in unique locations around the Museum campus. This episode features Jake Shimabukuro playing “The Greatest Day” in front of Lines That Link Humanity before his 2018 concert with Kishi Bashi.
Poems That Link Humanity
Much like Anatsui bestows new meaning to common materials, poets across space and time offer new meaning to humble objects, emotions, and experiences. While many of these universal concepts underscore the hardships and challenges of the human condition, they also offer a sense of connection and interconnection, reminding us that we are not alone. Head to NCMALearn for the full list of poems and additional poetry activities for all ages.
These films evoke Lines That Link Humanity through interconnected histories and circumstances of people and cultures around the world.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Waste Land (2010). Director: Lucy Walker. Artist Vik Muniz creates portraits from recycled materials of the catadores—garbage pickers—at the world’s largest landfill in Brazil. Rent on iTunes or Amazon Prime.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019). Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor. For the whole family. Based on the true story of a boy who saves his Malawian village from famine by building a wind turbine with materials found in a scrapyard. Watch on Netflix.
Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui (2011). Director: Susan Vogel. This short documentary gives us a look into the artist’s practice. Buy DVD. Watch on Ovid.
Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988). Director: Godfrey Reggio. This second installment of the Qatsi trilogy reveals how people move to a universal drumbeat through their work and traditions. Rent on iTunes.
Baraka (1992). Director: Ron Fricke. Shot in 25 countries, this film is what the director calls "a guided meditation on humanity.” Rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.
Click over NCMALearn for some family activities, like the loom-making activity below with North Carolina fiber artist Taylor McGee, and reading suggestions inspired by El Anatsui’s Lines That Link Humanity.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, Angie Faulk, Manager of Camps, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Color your own Lines That Link Humanity using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your creation on social media @ncartmuseum.
The NCMA Teen Arts Council invites you to respond to their challenge. Using whatever medium feels right (drawing, photography, collage, sculpture, painting, etc.), show us:
What does it mean to be connected right now?
Who keeps you connected? Consider the people working to keep us connected daily: health care, sanitation, and restaurant workers, first responders …
Connection vs. connectivity: What does it mean to be “differently” connected to your friends and family?
Get inspired by @ma.ddalena, who drew this during a FaceTime conversation with friends. Then tag us @ncartmuseum so that we can share your work!
Educational Lesson Plan
How long did it take El Anatsui to create Lines That Link Humanity? Find out in the video below; then head to NCMALearn to find a lesson plan on textile weaving related to this work of art.
Mindful Museum: Well Wishes with Growga
In Lines That Link Humanity, El Anatsui reflects on the interconnection of our world and how all our lives are inextricably intertwined. In this loving kindness–inspired meditation practice presented by Growga, you can experience your connection to others, even from far away, and wish all other beings happiness, health, and safety. Suitable for ages 5 and up.—Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs
Claude Monet, The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset, 1882–1883, oil on canvas, 23 13/16 x 32 3/16 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina
Claude Monet’s stunningly atmospheric and brilliantly colored landscapes are among his most popular surviving works. The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset captures the famous, monumental cliffs in the resort town and fishing village of Étretat in northwestern France, just a short distance away from Monet’s hometown of Le Havre.
The natural beauty of the cliffs—called Elephant and Needle because of their distinctive shapes—captivated the artist. During three weeks in Étretat, he wrote almost daily to his future wife, Alice, that he was in awe of the cliffs and that they had seduced him. To paint this love letter to his native province of Normandy, Monet made sketches for weeks, braving the rough terrain and cold February weather to observe the cliffs at different times of day. Monet’s layered brushstrokes of complementary colors convey the impressionist obsession with capturing a specific moment of atmosphere and light.
The French impressionists painted like no other artists that came before them, thanks in large part to a dramatic change in paint materials during their lifetime. More than 20 new paint pigments were invented in the early 19th century, a result of the burgeoning new field of chemistry and the industrial revolution. The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset, with its classic “impressionist” technique, is a wonderful example of the new art, and analysis of the paint Monet used during the formative years of impressionism illustrate the impact of paint materials on the history of art. Learn more in the Zoom lecture below or through this Revolution in Paint overview.—Perry Hurt, Conservator
While we’re at home, here are some ways to travel around the world to Monet’s stomping grounds and even under the sea!—Felicia K. Ingram, Manager of Interpretation
View an online exhibition with Google Arts and Culture featuring the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. This tour highlights Étretat, a town on the north coast of France noted for the striking rock formations of its white cliffs.
Immerse yourself in the ocean with a moon jellyfish live stream from the North Carolina Museum of Science. What ocean animals do you think are in the waters at Étretat?
Circa, the Museum blog
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the NCMA’s West Building. Since West Building opened in 2010, millions of visitors have entered, and Architectural Record recognized it as one of the 125 most significant works of architecture since 1891. Like Monet, architect Thomas Phifer designed it with the progression of daylight in mind. Learn more in Seeing the Light in West Building.
Carolina Ballet performance of Monet
I began by thinking of the Water Lilies and how in my mind I often thought of them as upside-down ballerinas in tutus. After taking a trip to Paris and visiting the Musée Marmottan Monet, I was left with many vivid impressions … The wonderful movement and color of the pair of paintings from 1920, Path under the Rose Arches, draw you into the paintings’ vanishing point, the color and movement being so vivid that I imagined a riotous bacchanal-type dance.—Robert Weiss, Founding Artistic Director, Carolina Ballet
The recording below is an audio description of The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset by Claude Monet. Audio Description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension. It is helpful for visitors to get an idea of what a piece of art looks like through vivid language.
Like Monet’s paintings, this playlist toys with the concepts of light and time, including songs by The Lumineers, Dr. Dog, Arcade Fire, and more.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager for the NCMA Amphitheater
These films evoke Monet’s impressionist style, depict serene landscapes, and convey the power of art and imagination to transport us to a different state of mind.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs, and Michele Frederick, Associate Curator of European Art
I, Claude Monet (2017). Director: Phil Grabsky. Immersive art documentary told in Monet’s own words through his letters. Rent on Vimeo or watch free with your library card on Kanopy.
13 Lakes (2004). Director: James Benning. Experimental film with static shots of 13 lakes that appear like serene moving landscape paintings. Watch for free on YouTube.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden (1993). Directors: Christina Bjork, Lena Anderson. For the whole family. Animated short about Monet’s art and life. Watch free on YouTube.
Loving Vincent (2017). Directors: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman. Beautiful experimental film made up of 65,000 oil paintings done in Van Gogh’s style. PG-13. Watch on Hulu or rent on Amazon Prime or YouTube.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013). Director: Isao Takahata. Family-friendly animated film that reminds us of Monet’s Japanese influences. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Buy on Amazon Prime or YouTube.
Monet by Carla Rachman. Rachman tells a lovely story about how she once stood in the street with four postcards: a Monet, a Turner, a Van Gogh, and a Leonardo da Vinci. “When I asked the people passing which one they’d like to own, they opted almost universally for the Monet—an image of the Japanese bridge.”
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell is historical fiction about the love story between Claude Monet and Camille Doncieux.
What Painting Is by James Elkins. Elkins takes readers on an in-depth exploration of the alchemy of the painting process, including a thorough treatment of Monet.
Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg. This book transports you to Étretat, in France, where Monet spends his days studying how light changes his environment.
The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw. This whimsical book follows a fox as he journeys to find the golden glow. See if he can capture light in the same way as Monet!
Brush with Greatness: Monet by Tamra B. Orr. While sweeping the platforms of a busy train station in Paris, Gabriel, the young narrator, shares his experience meeting Claude Monet.
Discover the magic and beauty in your world with art activities, books, and more inspired by Claude Monet’s The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset. Click over to NCMALearn to see the full list.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, PreK Programs Educator
Like Monet, many poets explore the concept of time through the passing of the day and the seasons. Often these progressions become a metaphor for the progression of life and life’s experiences. To complement The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset, we selected four poems that highlight these uses of imagery and metaphor. Head to NCMALearn for the full list of poetries and additional poetry activities for all ages. —Katherine White, Deputy Director
Color your own The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your creation on social media @ncartmuseum.
Educational Lesson Plan
Invite students to imagine that they can physically step into Monet’s The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset and use their senses to explore the landscape within the painting through this NCMALearn lesson plan.
Transport yourself and state of mind through engaging with this work of art, your senses, and nature. Follow along with a guided mindful observation, or learn about the practice of the “Sit Spot.” They’re great ways to connect with nature while staying close to home and taking a break from screens, and are appropriate for all ages.—Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs
Mickalene Thomas, Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2011, rhinestones, acrylic paint, and oil enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 in., Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)
Visitors sometimes ask if that’s Oprah at the center of Mickalene Thomas’s incredible Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires. It’s not, but it wouldn’t be out of line or thematically off. Thomas is inspired by iconic African American women who forged a path where none existed. In her multimedia installations, she pays direct homage to Donna Summer, Moms Mabley, Wanda Sykes, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, and Missy Elliott, among others, invoking “a call and response to a particular memory.”
Just like the media mogul herself, Thomas’s three women—modeled after the traditional art-historical representation of the Three Graces from ancient Greco-Roman art—are empowered, emotive, and fearless.
Everything about this work screams self-confidence: the women’s poses, their ultra-glam outfits, and even the bright colors and patterns that surround them. It’s one of the most positive and accepting views of womanhood in the NCMA collection, one that celebrates feminine strength, beauty, and power in all its variations.
It’s telling, too, that Mickalene Thomas has updated the Three Graces with a scene of three modern African American women ready for a night on the town. The Graces—mythological personifications of charm, beauty, and creativity—have typically been envisioned as white women (see Botticelli’s famous Primavera at the Uffizi Galleries, Florence). This retelling of the story modernizes mythology by attracting a broader audience and inviting diverse voices to respond.
Local Artist Connection
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, the NCMA programmed a weekend of interactive experiences led by women in the arts from across North Carolina. Durham-based artist, playwright, and performer Monet Noelle Marshall led a tour of work that spoke to her and offered inspiration, reflecting aspects of her work as a woman of color creating art today. Our conversation, filmed a year later, explores representation, art as time travel, technology, and the idea that “creativity is our emotional immunity” in times of crisis.
The Graces are presented in art throughout the ages as three women representing conventional values of charm, beauty, and creativity. You can see the Graces in La Primavera (Spring) (1477–82) by Sandro Botticelli. You can learn more about this great painting with Google Arts and Culture. Click “View in Street View” to explore the painting in the Ufizzi Gallery. Download the Google Arts and Culture App to take a full 360 tour of the Uffizzi.
Zoom Meeting Background
Looking for the perfect background for your Zoom meetings? Immerse yourself in works of art from the Museum Park or right alongside the Three Graces, like Jennifer Dasal, curator of modern and contemporary art, by downloading one of these images. When in Zoom, hit the arrow in the bottom left corner of your window and select "choose a virtual background." Pick your freshly downloaded choice, and voilà!
This Spotify playlist includes songs by Lizzo, Queen Latifah, and Chaka Khan, who performed at the Museum last summer.
These films evoke the aesthetics and concepts of representation, beauty, and power depicted in Three Graces.
Hair Love (2019). Director: Matthew A. Cherry. For the whole family. Won the 2020 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Watch free on YouTube.
Jewel’s Catch One (2016). Director: C. Fitz. Recommended by guest contributor Monet Marshall. Watch on Netflix.
Foxy Brown (1974). Director: Jack Hill. Blaxploitation film starring North Carolina–born Pam Grier. Rent on Itunes or Amazon Prime.
Hidden Figures (2016). Three black women in the starring roles demonstrate intellect, resilience, and confidence. Director: Theodore Melfi. Rent on Itunes, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.
Paris Is Burning (1990). Director: Jennie Livingston. Documentary about New York City ball culture and minority, gay, and transgender communities. Watch on Netflix.
Color your own Three Graces using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your creation on social media @ncartmuseum.
Thomas’s art is vibrant, powerful, and fun to look at together! Find art-making ideas, book recommendations, and an audio play with a twist on NCMALearn.
The Three Graces represent values such as charm, beauty, and creativity, and by depicting them as modern African American women, Thomas shows the Three Graces do not have a single story. Here are poems that celebrate women and their creative, beautiful, and multifaceted nature. Find the full list of poetries and poerty actirivies on NCMALearn.
Discover or deepen your understanding of the personal power that resides within you. Below are guided reflections from Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs, and associated somatic practices shared from Angela Griffin, a teacher at Raleigh’s Colors of Yoga studio; then enjoy more of Colors of Yoga’s virtual classes.
We have all been there, to a point of lacking confidence or feeling unworthy, maybe even feeling completely powerless. If it is not too uncomfortable, just for a few moments, invoke this feeling in your body. Your shoulders might round and your back slump. Your head might hang low and your feet might feel like they are not on solid ground. Maybe you have a pit in your stomach or vulnerability in your heart.
Now, let’s start to shift these feelings by shifting the body. If you can, stand up, plant your feet firmly on the ground, and find a stable stance in the legs. You can also find a similar steady and strong seated position. Take some deep and purposeful breaths as you roll your shoulders down your back, opening the front of your body, and eventually lift through your chest. Hold your head high. Reach through the top of your head and make your spine as long as it has ever been. Keep breathing deeply and begin to move your arms in a way that feels expansive and reminds you of your strength. Feel your inner power. Feel into your inherent reserves of worthiness, self-acceptance, and owning your story. This all resides within you. Cultivate confidence without external influences.
Land in your final “power pose” here and savour it. You can find your own shape, mirror the figures in Three Graces, or follow along with Colors of Yoga below.
Thomas Sayre, Gyre, 1999, three ellipses of concrete, colored with iron oxide, reinforced with steel, and mottled with dirt residue from earth casting,overall length 150 ft. Gift of Artsplosure, City of Raleigh, and various donors
Gyre: How do you say it?
Soft g. Think gyration. Gyre, as a verb, means to spin, revolve, or whirl. As a noun, it means a circular or spiral form: a ring or vortex.
The rings of the NCMA’s Gyre have inspired lovers for decades. Some romantics have even popped the question in front of North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre’s popular outdoor sculpture. As the adventure of marriage can be a whirlwind, we like this connection. What do you think of when you see the earth-cast rings of Gyre?
In this first edition of NCMA Recommends, our new weekly series inspired by the visitor favorites you submit, we offer some new ways to connect with this iconic NCMA work of art.
Local artist connection
Gyre is an example of Sayre's earth castings, which are 3-D pieces created by sculpting directly into the earth. Watch the video to learn more about the artist, who lives in Raleigh, and his process.—Linda Johnson Dougherty, Chief Curator and Curator of on Contemporary Art
Before Chapel Hill-based folk duo Mandolin Orange's two sold-out Museum concerts in 2019, they recorded this four-part video session under Gyre. Their sweet, modern, and earthy blend of American roots music brings the Park's sunshine right into your living room!—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager for the NCMA Amphitheater
These two documentary films about land art introduce you to the movement, its pioneers, and its iconic works.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (2017). Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer. Watch on Hulu.
Color your own Gyre using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your create on social media @ncartmuseum.
The three rings that make up Gyre were created with help from the earth. Click over to NCMALearn for hands-on activities using rocks, sticks, and more, plus some storytime book recommendations.—Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
Gyre was inspired by a poem by W. B. Yeats, who often explored the relationship between the spiral and the history of mankind. As more and more of us enjoy nature from the comfort of our homes, we selected four poems that remind us of nature’s beauty, offerings, and reliability. Ready to write your own? Head to NCMA Learn for a Gyre-Inspired Poetry Connections activity.—Katherine White, Deputy Director
We're launching a new weekly feature called NCMA Recommends. Each Friday, our staff will take a visitor-favorite work of art and share art-making, film, music, and educational recommendations that it inspires. You’ll enjoy artist interviews, virtual curator tours, mindfulness activities, and more, for all ages. Make sure you're signed up to our email list to get it in your inbox each Friday, check back to this page for the latest, or follow along on social media.
You put the people in Art + Nature + People. While the galleries are closed, we're hosting a virtual Q&A to compile your favorite works of art from the Museum collection. Your feedback will inform NCMA Recommends, a new weekly Museum From Home series that reveals connections between our collection and other arts, themes, and ideas, as well as a future exhibition featuring your picks! Fill out the short form or head to the Favorites highlight on our Instagram to share via social media, and we'll welcome you back with an exhibition you helped curate!
Located in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Art opened in 1956 as the first major museum collection in the country to be formed by state legislation and funding. The NCMA stewards, studies, and exhibits the people’s collection and offers welcoming and diverse opportunities to connect with the arts, nature, and people. Our collection spans 5,000 years of art and our campus, including the Museum Park, sits on 164 acres. See for yourself in the video below.
In accordance with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 117, and to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina, the NCMA is closed beginning March 17 until further notice. While the Museum Park remains open for walking, running, and biking, visitors should practice extreme caution and take strict social distancing measures. We ask Park visitors to respect the art and follow Park policies.
All Museum events, programs, and tours have been canceled or postponed through June 2020. Ticket holders can email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Zoom Meeting Backgrounds
Looking for the perfect background for your Zoom meetings? Immerse yourself in works of art by downloading one of these images. When in Zoom, hit the arrow in the bottom left corner of your window and select "choose a virtual background." Pick your freshly downloaded choice, and voilà!
The lioness-headed Sekhmet, like many Egyptian deities, had a dual nature: She could not only bring pestilence but also ward off epidemics and illness. Sekhmet was the protector of the king and a healing deity, the “mistress of life” who could heal those who suffered.