The Museum is open with updated hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, required free timed tickets for the Museum collection galleries to encourage social distancing, and increased health and safety procedures including required cloth masks. Learn more about these updates at ncartmuseum.org/covid19. Museum from Home programming continues, including virtual events. Please note: Entry to special exhibition Golden Mummies of Egypt requires a paid ticket.
NCMA from Home
While the Museum is now open, Museum from Home programming continues, including the new NCMA Virtual Exhibitions Subscription and ongoing virtual events. Through the NCMA Recommends virtual offerings below, inspired by the Museum collection, we hope to foster contemplation, meditation, and creativity.
James Huff, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 1979, 61 1/4 × 40 in., oil and acrylic on canvas, Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina and the Museum Special Gift Fund
Known for his intricate portraits of African American heritage and communal identity, James Huff captures a hopeful expression of Black manhood in this reflective piece. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow demonstrates how Black masculinity culminates from socially constructed morals and responsibilities that include community leadership. The piece’s dreamlike sequence allows the viewer to interact with the figure’s subconscious as it looks to the future.
Huff’s figure ages from a willful child to an eager adult as visions of Africa and African masquerade, an allusion to ancestral masculine forms, ruminate in his psyche. Although the artist encourages Black men to look forward as they progress, he also challenges them to recognize the inherited experiences that determine their circumstances. —Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator
Visit the NCMA to ponder Huff’s painting and other works about growing up in To Be Young: Coming of Age in the Contemporary, on view now in West Building. And stay posted for the fall season of NCMA Cinema, which features a series of intriguing films with a coming-of-age theme.
Artists Exploring Time
As the subject of Huff’s painting inhabits the past, present, and future, artists such as Moataz Nasr, whose videos are currently on view at the NCMA, also dive deep into the conceptual richness of time in their work. Read this article to learn about Nasr and five other African artists currently exploring time.
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a dream-like painting that combines recognizable images—like human faces and an African mask—with silhouettes and shapes that evoke another time, place, or state of mind. By painting these images layered on top of one another, Huff made connections between African traditions and African American progress. One of the clearest layers in this painting is the same figure shown as both a boy and man, condensing a lifetime into one picture. What could he be remembering about the past or dreaming about the future? Preview these directions from the Juneteenth NCMA To Go Activity Kit, which supplies materials to create a future portrait of yourself.
Learning from the Past
Go back in time to read this article from 1997 documenting a time when the Museum held very few works of art by African American artists: “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is one of the few paintings by an African American artist included in the permanent collection of the N.C. Museum of Art. The painting was selected in 1979 as the first-place winner in the museum's annual art competition; it won over about 2,500 other works.” Today the Museum collects works by a diverse group of artists, making the People’s Collection increasingly inclusive.
Dreaming in Color Storytime
Join us in celebrating a year with our collaborative partners at Liberation Station! Check out the playlist of Dreaming in Color Virtual Storytimes made in the galleries, starting with Juneteenth 2020, and then meet Victoria Scott-Miller and her son Langston in person at Saturday’s first live Dreaming in Color Storytime. It takes place outdoors in the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Museum Park from 10 am to noon as part of Commemorating Juneteenth 2021.
Liberation Station Pop-Up
The Museum Store now features a collaborative book experience with Liberation Station. This is the first pop-up for the trailblazing independent and globally recognized children’s bookstore. We are excited to showcase and sell their beautifully curated titles. Please visit the Store during Museum hours to enjoy this exciting collection that represents and amplifies Black voices and promotes literacy.
John Henry Twachtman, In the Greenhouse, circa 1895, oil on canvas, 25 × 16 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina
Floral designers Meredith Watson and Leigh Dickens interpret John Henry Twachtman, In the Greenhouse, Art in Bloom, North Carolina Museum of Art, 2018
For a few days each year, the galleries of the North Carolina Museum of Art are filled with living art. Using the medium of flowers, a group of generous artists descends on West Building to interpret the collection in their own unique styles, and their work becomes Art in Bloom. John Henry Twachtman’s In the Greenhouse was the subject of just such a reimagining in 2018 when designers Meredith Watson and Leigh Dickens styled their greenhouse window into a lush rendition of the painter’s work of art. Twachtman was an American impressionist best known for landscapes, but this painting provides a glimpse into his personal world and serves as an entry point to all things floral.
Join us for a virtual meeting of the NCMA Film Club when we discuss the short documentary Flower Punk. Our special guests will be Art in Bloom floral designers Onay Cruz Gutierrez, Carol Dowd, and Joseph Barnes.
Big Fish (2003). Directed by Tim Burton, 125 min., PG-13
The tale of Edward and William Bloom, whose strained relationship is caused by the father’s life-long penchant for telling what the son believes are fantastical, untrue stories about growing up.
Art, Accessibility, and Autism
Blawesome is a Chapel Hill–based flower farm and design studio that offers beautiful, locally grown, organic arrangements. The farm is owned and co-operated by a young man living with autism. When you buy flowers there, you are taking part in a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of both flowers and humanity.
Slow-Art Appreciation, Art in Bloom Editions
During these special 90-minute Art in Bloom editions on June 3 and June 10, you will be guided through an intentional observation of one of this year’s floral design and artwork pairings. For ages 16 and up.
Live from the Studio
Join us for Modern Florals in Watercolor, a virtual demonstration by Amy Richards on June 4 at noon. Richards creates whimsical florals using basic watercolor techniques. Participants are welcome to watch or follow along with the artist.
Scott Avett, Toy Pieta, 2018, oil on canvas, 106 × 65 in., Purchased with funds from the William R. Roberson Jr. and Frances M. Roberson Endowed Fund for North Carolina Art, 2019
This painting by artist Scott Avett, also a musician and songwriter, is a portrait of his family. Like his songs, Avett’s portraits of his family speak to both personal and universal issues of love and loss, heartache and joy.
In Toy Pieta his wife, Sarah, is depicted in the foreground surrounded by their children, while the artist appears in the background by himself. The composition and title refer to the iconic image of motherhood found throughout art history—the pietà—in which Mary cradles the body of Jesus in her arms.
There is a palpable emotional intensity, vulnerability, and intimacy in Avett’s portraits. They resonate with the unconditional love and simultaneous utter exhaustion of being a parent. He effectively conveys the physical weight and burden of being a parent with the nuanced palette, composition, and scale of the painting. We see a mother whose face is portrayed at a scale that moves into our space, and who looks directly at us, unguarded, unflinching, and honest. Sentimental, nostalgic, and at the same time deeply real, like his song lyrics, Avett’s portrait of motherhood lets the viewer in. —Linda Dougherty, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Mindful Museum: Slow-Art Appreciation
Join us on Wednesday, May 19, for an hour-long virtual program that offers centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Avett’s Toy Pieta. Calm the mind and experience art in a deeper way.
Scott Avett speaks with curator Linda Dougherty about how family influences his painting.
Ellen Hathaway pursued other careers and stayed home with her children before becoming a full-time painter. Treat your mother to a relaxing moment of pure artistic process with this video filmed in Hathaway’s Artspace studio.
Sally Mann’s photographs of her children offer an intense vision of artist as mother and mother as artist. This segment reveals the laborious process involved in combining her family and her art in a way that appears effortless.
Mother's Day Musical Offerings
Our friends at the Kennedy Center have brought together two incredible musicians to discuss motherhood in music. Singer, emcee, and activist Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh) speaks with Lido Pimienta, a Toronto-based, Colombian-born musician, interdisciplinary artist, and curator. Watch the conversation here.
And enjoy this playlist, celebrating the ones in our lives who have shown us love, tenderness, care, and a way forward through our more uncertain moments.
The recording below is an audio description of Toy Pieta. 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.
On Sunday, May 23, listen in on a lively virtual conversation about Monèt Noelle Marshall’s short film prophesy with a multigenerational group of Black women and gender-expansive people.+
Inspired by Scott Avett’s Toy Pieta, we recommend five films that depict the complexities of motherhood.
Mildred Pierce (1945). Director: Michael Curtiz. Film noir about a self-sacrificing mother who would do anything for her daughter. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
The Joy Luck Club (1993). Director: Wayne Wang. Based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan, this film depicts the relationships between Chinese American women and their immigrant mothers. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
All About My Mother (1999). Director: Pedro Almodovar. A grief-stricken woman learns what it truly means to be a mother with the surrogate family she finds while searching for her son’s father. Watch on HBO Max or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Mommy (2014). Director: Xavier Dolan. A widowed single mother struggling to raise her son with ADHD gets help from a neighbor. Watch on Tubi or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Tully (2018). Director: Jason Reitman. A mother of three finds solace with the night nanny hired to help her. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Visit the Museum Store for Mother’s Day Gifts
Kelly Sheppard Murray prides herself on being a mother and local artist. Her sculptural works all have their roots in natural forms. Peruse her colorful pieces currently for sale in the Museum Store.
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni, The Triumph of Venice, 1737, oil on canvas, 68 5/8 × 112 5/8 in., Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Batoni’s grandiose Triumph of Venice is a favorite among NCMA visitors of all ages and backgrounds, and yet its complex subject matter and copious literary allusions require close looking and informed analysis. The task of interpretation can be challenging, even for a trained historian of Venice (the present curator included).
The painting was commissioned in Rome by Marco Foscarini while serving as Venetian ambassador to the papal court. It commemorates one of the great moments in the history of Venetian culture, the first two decades of the 16th century, when the fine arts flourished during a time of peace under the leadership of Doge Leonardo Loredan. The patron himself, Foscarini, went on to become doge in the 1760s.
Doge Loredan appears at the center of the composition standing next to a woman driving a triumphal carriage pulled by two winged lions—a personification of Venice. Other Roman gods and goddesses represented include Ceres, Minerva, Neptune, Mars, and Mercury. In the background is a view of Venice’s celebrated “Molo,” the waterfront area at the entrance to the Grand Canal near Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, two of the most recognizable urban architectural monuments in Europe.
I would be curious to hear what attracts visitors today to this painting. Is it the bombastic depictions of mythological and historical figures, warm palette dominated by blues and golds, representational realism, magnificence of the Venetian waterfront and palaces in the background, or something else?
Learn more about this monumental painting here. —Lyle Humphrey, Associate Curator of European Art and Collections History
The recording below is an audio description of The Triumph Of Venice. 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.
Venice Video Shorts
Glory of Venice Exhibition
Look back to 2017, when visitors to the NCMA were introduced to Glory of Venice: Renaissance Paintings 1470–1520, the South’s first exhibition surveying the development of Renaissance painting in Venice from the second half of the 1400s to the early 1500s.
Return to this classic recipe, made of pureed peaches and prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. The cocktail was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, who may have been inspired by the sunset tones in Batoni's paintings.
Another glory of Venice is its unique lagoon ecosystem. Discover the movement to revive its health, under threat from human activity.
If you hear music when you look at The Triumph of Venice, you might be thinking of Antonio Vivaldi, who was active in the city at the time the painting was created. Listen to the works he wrote for the all-female orchestra and choir of a Venetian orphanage.
The Aspern Papers by Henry James (1888), a classic novella of intrigue and suspense surrounding an obsession with a set of mysterious lost letters, will place you in the romantic heart of Venice.
Gods and Heroes in Art, edited by Lucia Impelluso and Stefano Zuffi (2003), guides readers in learning about and recognizing mythological Greek and Roman figures in art.
The Triumph of Venice looks back to celebrate the city’s wealth of arts and culture during the Italian Renaissance, nearly 200 years earlier. Discover ways to make meaning from the symbols and mythology in this painting with ideas for hands-on activities for all ages.
Inspired by Batoni’s Triumph of Venice, we recommend films that are set in the picturesque city.
Summertime (1955). Director: David Lean. An American woman finds romance while vacationing in scenic Venice. Watch on HBOMax or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Don’t Look Now (1973). Director: Nicolas Roeg. A couple find themselves grieving the death of their daughter in a horror-filled Venice. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Casanova (2005). Director: Lasse Hallström. In 18th-century Venice, Giacomo Casanova, the world’s greatest lover, falls in love. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Venice and Vietri
After viewing our Italian Renaissance paintings, continue your experience in the Museum Store. Our current collaboration with Vietri features handcrafted products for the table and home. With Mother’s Day approaching, browse unique gifts such as the hibiscus small glass bud vase, mouth-blown in Tuscany and complete with authentic Italian packaging.
Richard Mosse, Love is the Drug, 2012, digital C-print, 50 × 96 in., Purchased with funds from the Art Trust Fund Endowment
Richard Mosse’s arresting Love Is the Drug appears at first glance to depict a type of paradise but instead presents a sobering reality: an embattled, scarred landscape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the center of decades of tribal conflicts and seemingly endless warfare.
Mosse’s landscapes are captured through infrared film originally developed for aerial military surveillance to detect camouflage. This film changes the vegetation’s appearance from green to surreal tones of pink and red, simultaneously beautiful and utterly unfamiliar. Mosse says he wants to “bring two counter-worlds into collision,” setting art’s potential to highlight the beauty of a scene against documentary photography’s goal of pursuing the “truth.” —Michele Frederick, Associate Curator of European Art
The recording below is an audio description of Love is the Drug. 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.
Environmental Stewardship and Restoration in the Museum Park
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, Curator of Horticulture and Sustainability Rachel Woods shares what has been accomplished to improve the 164-acre Museum Park’s environmental health and highlights ecological restoration efforts still planned. You will also learn how you can be a good steward at home and when visiting the Park.
Yatika Fields paints landscapes formed of memory, environment, movement, and light. Learn more about his process in this video produced by Oklahoma Contemporary.
Join us for an outdoor screening of Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy on Earth Day, April 22. The Museum Park is a special place where art and nature play off each other. This film showcases that relationship in a beautiful and dynamic way. Learn more and get a free ticket here.
Land art, or earth art, is a movement that uses the landscape to create works made of natural materials. These three documentary films introduce the movement, its pioneers, and some iconic works.
Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (2017). Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer. An insightful observation of an artist at work. Watch on Hulu.
Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art (2015). Director: James Crump. Depicts the innovative land artists of the 1960s and 1970s. Rent on Vimeo or iTunes.
Earthcaster (2016). Directors: Georgann Eubanks and Donna Campbell. Explores the earthcastings of Thomas Sayre, creator of the Museum Park’s Gyre. Watch on PBS.
Mindful Museum: Slow-Art Appreciation
Slow art is a growing movement to mindfully observe and communally appreciate art. Join us on April 21 for an hour-long virtual program that offers centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Mosse’s Love is the Drug. Calm the mind and experience art in a deeper way.
Last September we hosted Dreamroot during season one of our Music at the Museum virtual concert series. While on site they toured our galleries and shared appreciation for Richard Mosse’s Love is the Drug.
Join us for our next livestreamed virtual concert, Music at the Museum with Lakota John, this Tuesday, April 13, at 9 pm ET. Lakota John is a musician, producer, and songwriter from southeastern North Carolina who blends elements of folk, jazz, rock, and blues to create his unique sound.
In a free two-session virtual workshop on Saturday, April 17 and 24, teens will learn about the art of storytelling in both animation and filmmaking with North Carolina artist Napoleon Wright II and create a video or animation to share with the class. All levels are welcome; register here.
Art, Accessibility, and Autism
As visitors come to the Museum to view works such as Mosse’s Love is the Drug in higher numbers, we want to bring attention to resources that make the NCMA accessible to all audiences.
The Museum’s and Park’s visual schedules are intended for people, especially children, on the autism spectrum. These guides help prepare for visits and cover important things to remember. Images and a written schedule suggest how to explore the campus.
While at the Museum, visit the Store, which joins the Autism Society of North Carolina in promoting artists with autism. Featured this month are the small paintings and sculptures of King Nobuyoshi Godwin, a prolific, talented artist living with autism who inspires all around him.
Learn more about King Nobuyoshi Godwin:
View a biographical video narrated by brother Malik Godwin, Gregg Museum of Art and Design.
Simone Leigh, Corrugated, 2019, bronze and raffia, H. 81 × W. 73 × D. 40 1/2 in., Donated by Thomas S. Kenan III
Inspired by architectural elements and African diasporic art, Simone Leigh’s figural sculpture has a commanding presence. It portrays Black womanhood as a powerful experience constructed around themes of fortitude and persistence. The piece’s wide, corrugated base emulates industrial materials and can be read as either a voluminous skirt or an abstract body. Leigh further abstracted the figure by removing her eyes, which results in an inwardly focused form looking beyond viewers rather than at them.
Through this sculpture, Leigh examines the complexity of Black women’s identity at the intersection of racial and gendered cultural systems. These systems require Black women to remain composed and stable despite traditional ideas of feminine fragility. Leigh’s perspective on race, gender, and power celebrates Black women’s resiliency as a tool of self-reliance. —Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator
Corrugated’s Commanding Presence
In this clip from our March Virtual Lunchtime Lecture “Change the Face: Finding Power in Identity,” Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks describes the commanding presence of Simone Leigh’s sculpture Corrugated and discusses how Leigh’s works of art explore race, gender, and history.
Engage with the power and strength of Simone Leigh’s Corrugated through hands-on activities for families that celebrate Black women in history and that explore materials like clay and cardboard.
Guggenheim Museum, “Artist Profile: Simone Leigh”: Visit the award-winning artist in her studio.
CBS This Morning, “Artist Simone Leigh, Finally in the Spotlight, Reflects on Her Naysayers”: Meet Leigh in this April 2019 profile and see more of her exciting work.
Roma Piotrowska, “The Venice Biennale: 10 Best Pavilions in Giardini”: In 2022 Leigh will be the first Black woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale. Learn more about the Biennale and explore ten of the national pavilions.
Visit NCMALearn to read further about Corrugated and find links to additional resources.
Simone Leigh’s Corrugated makes us think of the resilient southern Black women depicted in the following films, who find strength in sisterhood.
Daughters of the Dust (1991). Director: Julie Dash. The women in a family in the Gullah community of South Carolina contemplate moving away from their roots and traditions. Watch on Criterion Channel or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
The Color Purple (1985). Director: Steven Spielberg. After enduring years of abuse, Celie finds strength and identity with the help of other women. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Eve’s Bayou (1997). Director: Kasi Lemmons. Ten-year-old Eve turns to her sister, psychic aunt, and voodoo to cope with the rift her father creates in the family. Watch on Hulu or Amazon or rent on YouTube.
Join us on April 7 from 7 to 8 pm to create responsive poetry inspired by Corrugated. Writer-scholar Jameela F. Dallis will guide you through prompts to write ekphrastic poetry, vivid descriptions of works of art. Using reflection and grounding exercises, you will encounter your own creativity through language.
Mary Cassatt, Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee, 1877–78, oil on canvas, 39 5/8 × 31 13/16 in., Gift of Charlotte Hanes in memory of her husband, R. Philip Hanes Jr., and gift of anonymous donors
No, she’s not that Madame X, but Mary Cassatt’s sitter is equally intriguing: stylish, elegant, and independent, like Cassatt herself. Both artist and sitter would have been restricted in their freedoms as women in late 19th-century Paris. But a matinee performance at the theater or opera would have been a haven for them—inspiring, perhaps, the relaxed hint of a smile on Madame X’s lips. —Jennifer Dasal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliviera (2014). Mary Cassatt burned her letters from Edgar Degas before her death, leaving history to guess at the details of their relationship. This fictionalized account of the lives and loves of four famous Impressionists brings readers into the heart of the belle epoque.
Women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Marie Bracquemond, edited by Ingrid Pfeiffer and Max Hollein (2008). This exhibition catalogue showcases four pioneering figures of the 19th-century Impressionist movement, highlighting their individual bodies of work.
NCMA in Dialogue: Seeking Self
Join us for an online discussion moderated by Alia El-Bermani with Leila Abdelrazaq, Precious Lovell, and Sylvia Maier. These diverse artists—a graphic zine maker, a textile artist, and a figurative painter—use self-portraiture to explore, among other things, the ongoing evolution of identity and how place is a factor in self-determination.
Madame X in Context
Discover more about the possible identity of Madame X and where she is headed on NCMALearn.
Women in Art at the NCMA
Women artists have been underrepresented in most museums, including the NCMA. Jennifer Dasal will share some of her favorite works by women artists in the collection and speak about the NCMA’s ongoing efforts to change this oversight and expand representation of women in a virtual Humber Lecture on March 25.
Mindful Museum: Slow-Art Appreciation
Slow art is a growing movement to mindfully observe and communally appreciate art. Join us on March 17 for an hour-long virtual program that offers centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Cassatt’s Portrait of Madame X. Calm the mind and experience art in a deeper way.
Musical Offering: Songs by Women Producers
Today’s single-lady-at-the-matinee is the female music producer. Rare birds with few well-deserved accolades, the producers on these tracks are nonetheless changing the music game, holding their own in a male-dominated profession.
The recording below is an audio description of Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee. 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.
Change the Face: Finding Power in Identity
Watch this recording of our recent Lunchtime Lecture with Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks. She speaks on the intersections of power and identity via the NCMA’s contemporary art collection, compares representations of Black women’s strength, and examines how these works compel us to “change the face of power.”
!Women Art Revolution
To celebrate Women’s History Month, our NCMA Film Club selection is the documentary !Women Art Revolution, which explores the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Kimberly Kay Lamm, associate professor in the Program of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University, will moderate the March 19 discussion of the film.
Cassatt Slide Show
At a time when women were discouraged from careers, Mary Cassatt moved to Paris and dedicated her life to the pursuit of her artistic goals. The breadth of Cassatt’s art is on display in this slide show, which features the personalities of small children and the lives women lived behind closed doors and in society.
Museum Store Offering
The Museum Store celebrates Women’s History Month with products from women-owned businesses like Designed For Joy, a community partner providing transitional work experience for women overcoming vulnerable life situations. We’ve collaborated on feather-style earrings offered in NCMA colors and other leather gift options, including coin purses. Drop by the main Store in West Building or contact the Store at firstname.lastname@example.org for Plaza pickup options.
Minnie Evans, The Tree of Life, 1962, colored pencil on paper, 11 7/8 × 8 7/8 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. D. H. McCollough and the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)
How does your spiritual life affect your creativity? Do your dreams inspire you? To self-taught North Carolina artist Minnie Evans, the answer to both questions was “yes.” Evans took cues from the natural environment and her own dreamlike visions to create colorful, symbol-laden designs, celebrating life on earth and in the heavenly beyond. —Jennifer Dasal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
The recording below is an audio description of The Tree of Life. 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.
Symmetry Collage: You can find flowers, animals, insects, and stars evenly arranged on both sides of Evans’s drawings. Make a colorful and symmetrical composition on a flat surface. Use machine-made objects with different colors or textures or include leaves, sticks, or other natural materials gathered outdoors. Can you find balance in your display?
Crayon rubbing: You might find materials Evans used in your home: crayons! A nature-inspired rubbing can showcase these colorful tools. Collect flat, textured materials like leaves. Place under paper and rub the side of a crayon over to reveal textures and details. Cut out, glue to construction paper, and add lines or other marks.
Dreamy sensory bin: Evans received inspiration from dreams and visions. Tap into your imagination by creating a sensory bin. Fill a large, flat container with small objects like dried beans or rice. Add colorful items like those in Evans’s drawings: flowers, dolls, animal figurines. To play, sort the contents by color and texture or put together a story using the objects.
Find inspiration from nature like Minnie Evans did! Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, where Evans worked and illustrated, offers a variety of in-person and virtual programs, such as tree walks, birding, and gardening.
Now is the time to plan your spring garden and start seeds indoors! Learn more using these resources from N.C. Cooperative Extension:
The online resource Minnie Evans features a biography and listing of works in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Minnie Evans’s Tree of Life is evocative of the dreamlike images and magical realism depicted in these films, which feature young girls who find solace in fantasy to escape harsh realities.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Director: Benh Zeitlin. Hushpuppy goes in search of her mother when her father falls ill and her community is threatened by flooding and mythical beasts. Watch on HBO Max or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Director: Guillermo del Toro. The horrors of both reality and fantasy are depicted through Ofelia’s eyes in fascist Spain and a world of mythical beings. Watch on Netflix or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
A Little Princess (1995). Director: Alfonso Cuarón. Sara turns to heroic and magical tales to escape her difficult life at a boarding school. Watch on HBO Max or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Guided Meditation for Finding Inspiration
Artist Minnie Evans did not seek out inspiration but listened to it when it struck—sometimes from curious and intangible places, sometimes from dreams and nature. Join Patrice Graham from Colors of Yoga for a short guided meditation to access the deep well of creativity that resides within you.
Inspired Museum Store Offerings
Minnie Evans was inspired by her faith and the natural world. Makers of many products in the Museum Store are energized by a variety of experiences. Artist and community activist Stacy Ahua’s soy candles celebrate culture and identity. Ahua’s family and heritage inspired her Usu Co. scents Grandad’s Farm, Nepa, and Ivy Rose.
Visit the Museum Store during regular gallery hours, or email email@example.com or call (919) 664-6874 to schedule free Plaza pickup.
Romare Bearden, New Orleans: Ragging Home, 1974, collage of plain, printed, and painted papers, with acrylic, lacquer, graphite, and marker, mounted on Masonite panel, 36 1/8 × 48 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina and various donors, by exchange
New Orleans: Ragging Home is from a series entitled Of the Blues, in which Romare Bearden (1911–1988) meditated upon the evolution of African American music—from the street bands of New Orleans to the jazz clubs of Harlem. Freely working with collage and paint, the artist sought to visualize the distinctive soundscapes of this music. —Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator
The Poetry of Jazz and the Blues
The 1920s brought a decade of creativity in literature, music, and dance in the United States. Much of this creativity was centered in Harlem, where music was central to the cultural renaissance and particularly to Langston Hughes’s poetry. Dig deeper into the poetry of jazz and its relationship to Bearden’s collage on NCMALearn.
Local Artist Connection
Raleigh artist Eric McRay has long been inspired by the work of fellow North Carolinian Romare Bearden. Learn more from McRay about his love of collage and the inspiration he derives from jazz.
Ragging Home—Jazz in and from New Orleans
Romare Bearden’s New Orleans: Ragging Home reflects the immense vibrancy of jazz music. Explore the jazz landscape of New Orleans starting as early as 1895 with this playlist. And for a block-by-block music tour of New Orleans, check out this website.
Mardi Gras Family Activity
The musicians in New Orleans: Ragging Home would have seen the bright and beautiful costumes of Mardi Gras Indians performing during Carnival, the festive period before the Christian season of Lent. Learn more about their handcrafted costume tradition in this video. Then make your own mask inspired by Mardi Gras Indians with this fun at-home activity.
Celebrations of Excess
Purim, the Jewish holiday of hamantaschen, masks, and fun, occurs around the same time as Mardi Gras. Read more about the similarities between these two celebrations of excess.
Join us for our first-ever virtual I ♥︎ Purim Party to learn more about art in the NCMA collection, socialize from your living room, and enjoy a bright spot of fun during the long winter.
Our recommendation and this month’s NCMA Film Club selection is the documentary A Tuba to Cuba, which follows the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they travel through Cuba in search of the music that gave birth to New Orleans jazz. Watch A Tuba to Cuba (2018) by directors T. G. Herrington and Danny Clinch on Tubi.
John James Audubon, Fox-Coloured Sparrow, Plate 108 from The Birds of America, 1827–38, hand-colored engraving and aquatint on paper, 40 × 26 in., Transfer from the North Carolina State Library
A renowned ornithologist and painter, John James Audubon (1785–1851) completed his monumental work, The Birds of America, in 1838. Audubon’s “grand idea” was to depict for the first time all of the birds native to North America. His goal was to “offer a beautiful monument to the varied splendors of American nature.”
Collecting specimens took him from Canada to Florida and as far west as North Dakota and Texas. By the end of the decade-long project, his approximately 500 species nearly doubled the total shown in any earlier publication. Though he was self-taught, Audubon earned the respect of naturalists and artists around the world.
The North Carolina Museum of Art owns one of 134 known complete sets of Audubon’s four-volume masterwork. The pages of each volume are turned to show a new bird every three months; visit the Museum to see the current folios on view before they change on February 9.
The Great Backyard Bird Count 2021
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual citizen science extravaganza that occurs this year from February 12 to 15. This free and fun event is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. During the GBBC, participants count wild birds for at least 15 minutes and submit their data for scientist use at birdcount.org.
Anyone can take part, and you can participate from your backyard, a local park, or even your kitchen window. Here are some helpful resources and local events:
Our partners at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be teaching Intro to Bird ID on Monday, February 8, at 4 pm. Learn more and sign up for this virtual workshop here.
The City of Raleigh is hosting small in-person programs at Durant Nature Park, Walnut Creek Wetland Center, and other sites. Find more information and register here.
Photos clockwise from top left: Sipu Kumar/GBBC; Justin Graham/GBBC; Mike Fernandez/Audubon; Donna Williams/GBBC
Birds of the Museum Park
Many of the birds featured in Audubon's Birds of America can also be found in the Museum Park! Join Park Ranger Chantal Taunton on a short exploration to discover some of these and other native birds.
In 2019 Museum visitors were invited to become immersed in John James Audubon’s natural world. The Birds of America came to life in an animated room full of the sights and bird songs of a nineteenth-century American forest. Visit our Circa blog post for Audubon fast facts.
These two documentary films about birds depict their magnificent migration journeys and show how they can transcend borders and bring people together.
Winged Migration (2003). Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud. This Academy Award–nominated documentary about bird migration was shot on all seven continents over the course of four years. Rent on Amazon or iTunes.
Birders (2019). Director: Otilia Portillo Padua. This short documentary depicts bird-watchers on the US-Mexico border and beautifully conveys how birds can bring people together. Watch on Netflix.
Birds on the Wires
Taking inspiration from a photograph he saw in a newspaper in 2009, composer Jarbas Agnelli transcribed the image of birds sitting on electrical wires into a short, beautiful piece of calming music. His video was named one of the Top 25 Videos at the YouTube Play Festival in 2010.
Audubon: On the Wings of the World is a beautifully illustrated and imaginative graphic novel based on the life and adventures of John James Audubon by Fabien Grolleau and Jérémie Royer.
Follow along with our friends at Growga in this fun video to practice some bird-related yoga poses and awaken your observation skills to notice more birds around you. Suitable for ages five and up.
Family Activity: Great Backyard Bird-Making
We’ve partnered with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to offer a free virtual event on February 9, to celebrate Audubon’s artwork and the GBBC. Take inspiration from Audubon’s lifelong exploration of birds to create your own twittering critter from recycled materials. All ages welcome! Learn more and sign up here.
Nature Finds in the Museum Store
After bird watching in our Park or viewing our Audubon volumes in East Building, visit the Store in West Building to find just the right item to take home and continue your art and nature experience. Enjoy puzzles, stunning glass sculptures, and home items, all showcasing the beauty of these soaring creatures.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any requests and allow us to serve you in person or with “Plaza Pickup.”
Michiel van Musscher, Allegorical Portrait of an Artist in Her Studio, circa 1675–85, oil on canvas, 45 × 35 7/8 in., Gift of Armand and Victor Hammer
When the NCMA founders acquired Michiel van Musscher’s Allegorical Portrait of an Artist in Her Studio in 1957, they believed it featured Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), the most famous woman artist of her day. Ruysch was a flower painter whose still-life compositions closely resemble the one depicted on the easel. She is no longer thought to be the subject of the painting. Instead, it is an allegorical celebration of artistic production, symbolized by a painter surrounded by representations of the arts: painting, sculpture, music, and poetry.
Why did the founders want to acquire this painting? First and foremost because it is visually spectacular. The painting invites us into an unfamiliar world filled with beautiful objects, textiles, and surfaces, including the woman’s elegant white dress and luxurious blue taffeta silk shawl, an oil painting, sculptures, musical instruments, an enormous leather-bound book, a woven carpet used as a tablecloth, and an exotic marble floor whose smooth, cold surface you can almost feel.
Second, the founders believed the woman depicted was a renowned artist, and therefore the painting had historical significance in addition to artistic value.
Finally, the work of art on the easel resembles a still-life composition—a visitor favorite—the founders had acquired a few years earlier that they thought Ruysch herself created. Accordingly, Van Musscher’s painting had resonance within the collection. –Lyle Humphrey, Associate Curator of European Art and Collections History
The recording below is an audio description of Allegorical Portrait of an Artist in Her Studio. 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.
Women Creating Now
Women making art in studios looks different now. Meet Alexis McGrigg as she uses her physicality to put herself into her work, creating art guided by ancestors, tradition, and her own agency.
XOXOK’s Creative Process
Local atmospheric soul artist XOXOK shares a bit about his creative process for making music:
“I think that creativity is a skill, and like all skills, it requires consistent practice. Some people like to strike when the iron is hot, but I find it most helpful to have some type of schedule. I feel most creative in the morning, and I’m fortunate enough to have a day job that has flexible hours, so I spend most mornings strictly working on music. I treat it like a part-time job. (If anyone reading this would like to hire me to make music my full-time job, please contact me! Seriously!)
“I also find it important to be kind to myself and patient when it comes to creativity. I’ve never been the type of person who sits down and writes a whole song in one day, and I don’t put those types of expectations on myself. (Unless you are hiring me to do that. Please contact me! Seriously!) I take the time to refine lyrics, change chords, seek input from others. By the time I hear a final, mastered recording of one of my songs, I can barely remember what the first draft sounded like.”
Young artist and producer HANA recorded her debut album while streaming live on Twitch. Look in on her process here.
Virtual Slow-Art Appreciation
This hour-long virtual program on Wednesday, January 20, guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Allegorical Portrait of an Artist in Her Studio. Calm the mind and experience art in a deeper way. Learn more and get your free tickets here.
A Museum for all the People: The NCMA, 1947–1960
Watch this recording of a free lecture with Lyle Humphrey, associate curator of European art and collections history, to learn more about the NCMA’s founding and development. Presented in concert with the exhibition Miracle on Morgan Street: The Foundations of the NCMA, 1947–1960.
These three films feature women artists and depict how their creativity, passion, and heartache inspired their art. The films emphasize the persistence of these artists to overcome societal impositions placed on them because of their gender.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). Director: Céline Sciamma. In late 18th-century France, painter Marianne is commissioned to secretly paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse while posing as her companion. Intimacy between the two soon develops. Watch on Hulu or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
Camille Claudel (1988). Director: Bruno Nuytten. This film depicts the life of the French sculptor, who becomes the apprentice of Auguste Rodin, and how her passion for her art and teacher drives her further from rationality. Rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.
Everlasting Moments (2008). Director: Jan Troell. This heart-wrenching film tells the story of Maria Larsson, a poor and abused woman who finds freedom in photography. Watch on the Criterion Channel or rent on YouTube.
What are artists up to in their studios in 2021? Time-tracking software company Harvest invited creatives from around the world to share how the pandemic and other current events have impacted their production. Time in This Time shares works such as Grace Miceli’s comic guide How to Have a Week, Ilana Harris-Babou’s Making Due, and Ziad Nawfal and Ruptured Records’ Live from Beirut. The capsule also invites you to share your own works on social media, and a remote experience generator by Double Take Labs helps with Zoom-driven creative blocks along the way.
Dig Deeper with the Virtual Exhibitions Subscription
Want more close-looking content? In the Miracle on Morgan Street virtual exhibition, you'll hear directly from our curator about women in the NCMA’s history and our collaboration with the State Archives of North Carolina. Watch exclusive interviews, access interactive art spotlights, and click on featured images and objects.
The NCMA Virtual Exhibitions subscription also includes seven additional exhibitions about Senegalese jewelry, North Carolina painters, site-specific installations, and more. The one-time price is $10 for nonmembers and $8 for members and students (plus taxes and fees). Learn more and get your subscription here.
What’s in the Box?
Did your family resolve to have more art encounters in 2021? Start by looking closely together with the help of our What’s in the Box cards (best for pre-K viewers). Examine the objects and symbols in Van Musscher’s painting and enjoy activities to help you enrich your understanding.
Shop for the New Year
Celebrate the new year with a visit to the Museum Store! Fresh offerings include three products created by women and inspired by the art in their lives.
Beautiful coffee mugs by Monica Linares celebrate joy, color, and bright new beginnings.
Stacy Ahua’s Usu Candle Co. is a love letter to the culture that molded Stacy and a beacon for anyone working to make their own way in the world. Celebrate who you are and all you will become this year with Usu’s signature candles.
Give the gift of culture that is perfect for all ages! Cityspot’s museum-themed playsets, books, and stickers were created by a docent to introduce kids to major artists and build skills through a range of hands-on activities.
For assistance, please visit the Museum Store, email us at email@example.com, or call (919) 664-6784. The store currently offers curbside pickup and shipping options.
We want to know what the NCMA means to you. Share your answer in this form, and it may be projected on a wall in the exhibition Miracle on Morgan Street, now on view through May 16. Get inspired by the visitor submission below.
“When I moved to Raleigh in 1998, one of the first places I brought my toddlers was the NCMA. There was a wonderful class where they created unique and colorful hats out of tissue paper after sitting in front of and learning about The Garden Parasol. More than 20 years later, I still have a picture of them in their creations.”
Orit Raff, Untitled (Light Under the Door), 1999, C-print, Gift of Allen G. Thomas, Jr. 31 1/4 x 39 3/8 in.
This time of year, when the days get shorter and the nights get longer, I'm cheered by this photograph by Orit Raff, Untitled (Light under the Door). Featured in my current exhibition Reflections on Light, Raff's photograph celebrates light as its main subject. As an exhibition Reflections on Light demonstrates the importance of light to artists from different geographies and time periods, over 2,500 years of art history. It features 35 works from the NCMA's collection and includes art as diverse as ancient Roman oil lamps, West African sculptures, Old Master paintings, and contemporary photography.
In the context of the exhibition, photography is featured first in the original sense of photographs as being “pictures drawn with light,” able to capture a direct view of nature. Raff's photograph is part of a small set of engaging images that have an otherworldly glow, prominently featuring light and using it to organize space within the image. In Raff's photograph I see something that resembles a swipe of gold paint across a canvas, or, the longer I stare at it, a portal into another world. It’s only after looking at it for a while that one understands it's a closely cropped image of light from the other side of a door, made in a series the artist called Domestic Landscapes. Even more beautiful, given the focus of this photograph and of Reflections on Light, the artist's first name, Orit, means light in Hebrew. —Michele Frederick, Associate Curator of European Art
Virtual Lecture: Creating Reflections on Light
Join us for a free December 17 Lunchtime Lecture with Michele Frederick, associate curator of European art, to hear about the challenges and benefits of building the exhibition Reflections on Light: Works from the NCMA Collection. View highlights from the show and learn more about how light has fascinated artists for thousands of years. Register online.
Lights across N.C.
The town of Hillsborough has creatively adapted their beloved Solstice Lantern Walk from an event that traditionally lit up the Eno River Walk in downtown Hillsborough to one that, with your help, will light up the state from coast to mountains on the longest night of the year. In partnership with the Hillsborough Arts Council, the NCMA will be distributing free lantern kits across the state. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on receiving a packet of kits for your community. Requests must be received before December 15.
Global Connection: Shabe Yalda
Many cultures celebrate winter solstice. In the Persian tradition, Shabe Yalda, also known as Shabe Chelleh, is celebrated in true Persian form: with food, music, poetry, camaraderie, and zero sleep. Though rooted in Zoroastrian tradition, this ancient celebration is observed by Persians regardless of their geographic location or religious background.
Watermelon and pomegranate, the fruits of choice for this feast, represent bounty, and their rich, red colors may represent the light of dawn and the glow of life. Watermelon, in particular, harkens back to the origin of the tradition, in which Zoroastrians would eat the last of the summer fruit, believed to help immunize the body against illness brought on by winter’s cold. Ajil, a colorful mix of nuts, seeds, and dry fruits, also graces the table. Families and friends come together for a hot meal, followed by a long evening of storytelling, poetry reading (particularly works by Persian poet Hafez), and music in the warmth and coziness of the home.
Whether you are with family or spending the evening in tranquil solitude, we encourage you to grab your pomegranate, watermelon (if you can find it), and book of Hafez poetry, and enjoy a long night in. Here’s a playlist of Persian music to accompany you as you try your hand at staying up until dawn. —Janette Hoffman, Manager of Concerts and Music Programs (and Persian-in-residence)
Here’s a playlist of Persian music to accompany you as you try your hand at staying up until dawn for Shabe Yalda. If you’d like a more soothing instrumental accompaniment, Persian kemancheh player Kayhan Kalhor released this album with odes to dawn and dusk.—Janette Hoffman, Manager of Concerts and Music Programs (and Persian-in-residence)
Watch four short films that utilize light in creative ways to tell a story. —Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Luminaris (2011). Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella. This Argentinian stop-motion short uses an animation technique called pixilation to tell the story of a lightbulb factory worker living in a world controlled by light. Watch on Vimeo.
What Light (through Yonder Window Breaks) (2009). Director: Sarah Wickens. This stop-motion short depicts a patch of sunlight cast through a bedroom window as it takes on new shapes throughout the day. Watch on Vimeo.
The Light and the Little Girl (2014). Director: Guy Pooles. In this short a young girl finds herself entranced by a beam of light moving through her home and tries to capture it in a jar. Watch on Vimeo.
Mamoon (2018). Director: Ben Steer. This short uses projected animation onto polystyrene film. It tells the story of a mother and child evading the dark shadows that envelop their world. Watch on Vimeo.
Sharing the Spirit of the Season through Art
What do birds, snakes, flowers, zeppelins, and coffee pots have in common this holiday season? Well, a collaborative exhibition between the NCMA and Reynolda House, in Winston Salem, which brings the past to life with a spirit of sharing and community.
The NCMA received a generous donation in the early 1990s of over 400 glass-blown ornaments from the Gelkler Family of Pittsboro. Collected from many years of travels to Germany, as well as adventures in flea markets and antique shops, these ornaments are fragile, unique works of art.
Nineteenth-century German glassmakers began to create the first glass ornaments in imitation of fruit. Originally made to hang in the windows, these ornaments eventually became common tree decorations. According to the Corning Museum of Glass, “In the United States, in the 1880s, Woolworth’s sold millions of dollars worth of German-made ornaments to Americans eager to bedeck their trees.”
The Gelkler ornaments adorned the NCMA tree for years but now light up the historic 1917 Reynolda House, through the end of 2020.
Please consider a visit to Enchanted Evenings at Reynolda House, to view in person the beauty of these glass ornaments and learn more about the history of glass Christmas ornaments in the American South, including ornament production, traditions, and artistry.
Join us for Mindful Museum: Virtual Slow Art Appreciation on Wednesday, December 16, from 7 to 8 pm. This free, interactive program guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional slow-looking observation of Untitled (Light under the door) by Orit Raff. For ages 16 and up. See more details and sign up here.
Celebrate the returning of the light on the darkest night with Mindful Museum: Winter Astrology and Meditation Workshop on the winter solstice, Monday, December 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Join Andrea Rice—local yoga teacher and co-author of The Yoga Almanac—for this virtual experience to align with your 2021 goals and discover the significance of current astrological patterns. You’ll be guided through meditation exercises, journaling prompts, and an intention-setting ritual to steer you toward your highest potential. All skill levels welcome; ages 16 and up.
The recording below is an audio description of Light under the Door. 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.
Attributed to Pieter Cornelisz. van Rijck, Still Life with Two Figures, 1622, oil on canvas, 49 5/8 x 58 1/4 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina
Tables filled with food are an enduring symbol of Thanksgiving. In this painting, showing an abundance of fruit and vegetables, the artist presents a scene of plenty, part of a genre of similar still lifes that flourished during a period of peace within the 80 Years War between the Dutch and the Spanish. This temporary truce led to prosperity (and increased wealth) on both sides and coincided directly with the increasing Dutch colonial foothold in the Americas.
The Dutch began exploring the Americas in 1602. In 1623 they founded New Netherland, a territory that included all of modern-day New Jersey and New York City (then called New Amsterdam), and much more besides. In New Amsterdam the Dutch relied on enslaved African labor to cultivate crops, clear land, and make way for further settlements.
The labor of the enslaved supported the Dutch enterprises abroad and the prosperity back home in northern Europe, prosperity that allowed celebrations of abundance such as that captured in this Still Life with Two Figures. Not only could the richness showcased here not have existed without Dutch colonialism, but direct references to this are also included in the painting. Green beans, squash, pumpkins, and the most prominent symbol of modern Thanksgiving, the turkey, are all native to the Americas. They appear in our painting because, like so many other products such as pepper, sugar, and tobacco, they were introduced to western Europe by colonizers and explorers returning home.
While we celebrate with Thanksgiving feasts of our own, and paintings like this will of course bring about happy memories of past holidays, it is important to understand the history of such scenes of abundance. In images like this one, the good and beautiful exist simultaneously with the painful and ugly.
Through the Generations
Consider the artistic traditions passed from grandmother to granddaughter over hundreds of generations in a traveling exhibition of work by Native American women artists. Now on view in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hearts of Our People originated at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and contains 82 works of art from ancient to contemporary times. Explore the exhibition virtually though videos and audio tours. Rose B. Simpson is one of the featured artists, and this PBS video is a wonderful entry point to learn more about her work and the work of her mother and other women in this remarkable exhibition.
Meet Nancy Strickland Fields, curator and director of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian, based at UNC–Pembroke. Fields describes the museum’s new video series, Chicken and Pastry for the Soul, as “a spin on the successful book series Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Inspired by the books’ goal of uplifting readers, the seven-part video series aims to inspire and encourage audiences from a uniquely American Indian perspective. Chicken and Pastry is a beloved staple dish for many Native and non-Native communities in Eastern North Carolina. Using the dish as a metaphor, the series connects viewers with the values and behaviors that have sustained Native American Indian communities through other difficult times.
From the Fields
This week’s featured painting brims with beautiful produce that North Carolinians can recognize as crops cultivated on farms across the state. With 75 acres to safely explore, the State Farmers Market in Raleigh offers an opportunity to experience the bounty of the fields straight from the farmer’s hands. Though this year’s Thanksgiving plans may keep us closer to home, folks across the state can still support their local farmers at markets large and small, while remembering and honoring the Native Americans who cultivated the land before us, growing the corn, beans, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and peanuts that we enjoy today.
Watch how one Western North Carolina farmers market has adapted for 2020.
North Carolina farmers create their own versions of Still Life with Two Figures.
Sharing Our Plenty
Coming together to celebrate looks different this year, and with thoughts of our most vulnerable neighbors, many families are looking for ways to both count their blessings and share them. Consider supporting the efforts of the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina as it provides meals for those who need them most this holiday season.
A Cornucopia of Reading
Learn more about the Lumbee Nation of North Carolina, including history, folklore, and crafts, in The Only Land I Know. Curious about how food traveled across the Atlantic to show up in Dutch still-life painting? This article details the history of food in European paintings, and this article discusses the concept of an “embarrassment of riches” in the sumptuous paintings that have a less than golden explanation for the beauty on display.
From Scarcity to Abundance
Join us for a Mindful Museum session taught by Lumbee Tribe member Jesalyn Keziah, MSW, whose work focuses on integrating art, nature, community, and Indigenous mental health. This virtual program on Wednesday, December 2, guides you through a creative visioning exercise, a meditation, and a group discussion of abundance and myths about scarcity. Register and see more details here.
This recording is an audio description of Still Life with Two Figures. 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.
Beverly McIver, Truly Grateful, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 in., Gift in memory of Janet Martin Lampkin, former member of the executive committee of the Friends of African and African American Art
During turbulent, uncertain times, we are grateful there are artists among us whose gifts make manifest the most recognizable feelings shared across the human experience: joy, fear, anguish, wonder, and love. They create moments when the outside world stops and we are given the opportunity to pause, allowing us to more deeply look, listen, experience, and reflect.
The human experience is often shaped by chaos as we change and adapt to situations, both joyful and hurtful, often beyond our control. The practice of pausing for gratitude—taking the time to assess individual strengths and growth, return kindnesses, and acknowledge and practice the things that bring us joy—can help build resilience and combat anxiety. In the Museum galleries, two paintings that speak to this concept of pausing for gratitude hang side by side (despite being separated by centuries) as part of Interchanges: Cross-Collection Conversations.
Italian artist Sassoferrato preferred a “throwback” style of art, following in the footsteps of Renaissance predecessors like Perugino and Raphael, who were active 100 years prior. Instead of creating typical baroque paintings—dark and dramatic—he is most known for sweet devotional portraits dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who appears in The Virgin in Prayer (circa 1645–1655) with eyes closed and head bowed. Such serene scenes are not limited to the 17th century, nor do they appear only in religious scenes. As Beverly McIver’s Truly Grateful attests, subsequent generations have long taken hints from these art-historical precedents to translate feelings of beatific serenity to secular audiences.
As we look to Truly Grateful in this week’s NCMA Recommends, let us take a collective moment of reflection, inhale a few deep breaths, and remind ourselves of what we have and those we love.
Reading and Reflecting
As we express gratitude for the works on the Museum walls, let’s take a moment to reflect on the varied meanings they might hold for each individual visitor. Follow along with Langston Miller and Victoria Scott-Miller of Liberation Station as they read poems and stories in front of works that inspire deeper introspection for children and families.
The Ties That Bind
Like Truly Grateful, this week’s films help us contemplate the universal themes of gratitude and love that connect us all.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Raising Renee (2011). Directors: Jeanne Jordan, Steven Ascher. This intimate and candid documentary chronicles artist Beverly McIver as she becomes caregiver for her mentally disabled sister while navigating her own career. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Gratitude Revealed. Director: Louie Schwartzberg. Fifteen short films explore the science, mystery, and meaning of gratitude and why it is needed to help us feel less disconnected. Watch the introductory video here. Watch the complete series here.
StoryCorps Special: Listening Is an Act of Love (2013). Directors: The Rauch Brothers. Six stories from 10 years of StoryCorps, where everyday people sit down together to ask life’s important questions. Watch on YouTube.
Touching a Deep Chord
Beverly McIver’s gentle and heartfelt work Truly Grateful reminds us of how profound the practice of gratitude can be. To that end, we offer you a revisit of our gratitude playlist to accompany you through a range of emotions.—Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, Outdoor Amphitheater
See More from McIver
Durham gallery Craven Allen opens the exhibition The Light Within on Saturday, November 14, featuring new works of art by Beverly McIver created during the pandemic. The show can be viewed in the gallery with social distancing, as well as online on Craven Allen’s Beverly McIver gallery page.
From the gallery site: “A nationally known artist who has been named Top Ten in Painting by Art News, Beverly McIver was working nonstop, teaching classes at Duke, leading workshops all over the country, caregiving for her family, and painting when she could. When Covid hit, along with all of 2020’s racial and political turbulence, McIver’s life changed dramatically. McIver faced the chaos and isolation the only way she knew how—through paint.”
Virtual Slow Art Appreciation
Join us in observing and reflecting on Truly Grateful by Beverly McIver. This free virtual program on Wednesday, November 18, 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.
Guatemalan, Tiquisate region, Incense Burner, circa 300–600, ceramic with traces of white, yellow, and black paint, H. 23 x W. 17 3/4 x D. 10 in., Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Francis Robicsek
This censer lid shows a miniature temple adorned with quetzal birds, flowers, and jewels. The central figure depicts a person who died on the battlefield. The piece, originally from Tiquisate in present-day Guatemala, replicates the art style from central Mexico. The chimney attached to the back allowed the aromatic smoke to escape, creating a link with supernatural beings and ancestors.
A Message in the Sky
The beauty of the Guatemalan kite is not only in its vibrant colors and impressive size, but also in its purpose. The large circular kites are sent into the air on November 1, All Saints Day, as reassurances from the living to the dead: “We are OK. We love you.” Learn more about this tradition and marvel at the beauty of these flying works of art, and then come see one at the NCMA on November 1.
A Mural in Morganton
The NCMA is partnering with TOSS Studios in creating a mural in Morganton, N.C., in the western part of the state. The mural promotes the biodiversity of the region along with its cultural diversity, recognizing the perspective and talents of the Hispanic community. Raleigh-based artist Alexa Eliana Chumpitaz has been selected to complete the mural.
“I so appreciate the struggles my parents went through, just so that I could have a better life here. I am a first-generation American on both sides of my family, and my parents never hesitated to support my decision to be an artist. This mural is important, not just for me, but for others who need a vision of hope. For me it demonstrates that you can make an impact as a Latinx American. I want my art to engage, educate, and empower all types of people, in different walks of life.”–Alexa Eliana Chumpitaz
How do artworks speak to each other across the ages and tell the stories of human experience? Join us on Tuesday, October 27, for a virtual conversation between Ángel Gonzalez, GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow, and contemporary ceramic artist Natalia Arbelaez. Sign up and find more details about this free event here.
Virtual Lecture on Ancient American Art
Join us for a lunchtime virtual lecture on Thursday, November 12, about the Museum’s collection of ancient American art. Ángel Gonzalez, GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow, brings a refreshing view of materials from three cultural areas (Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes), encompassing at least seven present-day countries. Save your spot and see more details about this free event here.
This ceramic incense burner comes from Tiquisate, along the Pacific coast of present-day Guatemala, but it imitates an art style from Teotihuacan in central Mexico. Teotihuacan was the first ancient city in the Americas, built nearly 800 years before the Aztec empire. Learn more about this work of art and related concepts, and see a related video about nature altars, on the Museum’s NCMALearn website.
Glimpses of Diverse Cultures
This week’s recommended films depict indigenous communities, their language, customs, and beliefs, and also show remnants of some of their disappearing traditions.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Ixcanul (2015). Director: Jayro Bustamante. Maria, a young Mayan woman, lives with her parents at the base of an active volcano as she awaits her arranged marriage. This is the first film made in the Kaqchikel Mayan language and was Guatemala's entry into the Academy Awards. Rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.
Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente (2015). Director: Ciro Guerra. This Colombian film tells of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and two scientists seeking a sacred healing plant. Watch on Amazon, or rent on iTunes or YouTube.
Lorena, Light-footed Woman / Lorena, la de pies ligeros (2019). Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo. This Mexican short documentary depicts a young woman of the Tarahumara/ Rarámuri community who is known for her extraordinary long-distance running abilities while wearing sandals. Watch on Netflix.
Pachamama (2018). Director: Juan Antín. This animated family-friendly film centers on Tepulpai, a young Peruvian boy living in a remote village in the Andes who dreams of becoming a shaman. Watch on Netflix.
The recording below is an audio description of Incense Burner. 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.
Read about Guatemala
Family reading: Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castañeda, illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez. The beautiful countryside of Guatemala comes to life through the story of a young girl and her grandmother, a weaver of Mayan tapestries.
Young adult contemporary: We Are Not from Hereby Jenny Torres Sanchez. “Torres Sanchez has created tender and vulnerable characters with Chico, Pulga, and Pequeña. The authentic and harsh reality of this story is one of immigrants fleeing violence and enduring violence for the sheer hope of a different possibility … Torres Sanchez tackles the story of three Guatemalan unaccompanied minors with compassion and fortitude.”—Reviewed by Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez and Ingrid Campos
Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women is the first major exhibition of Senegalese gold jewelry to focus on the history of Senegal’s gold, from past to present, and the beauty and complexity of the ways Senegalese women use ornament and fashion to present themselves. A key theme of the exhibition is the Senegalese concept of sañse (a Wolof word for dressing up or looking and feeling good). Good as Gold explores how a woman in a city like Dakar might use a piece of gold jewelry to build a carefully tailored, elegant fashion ensemble.
Good as Gold also looks at the interconnectedness of local and global expressions and understanding of fashion. In addition to presenting nearly 120 pieces of jewelry, the exhibition unveils an ensemble inspired by the strength and savoir faire of Senegalese women, designed by Oumou Sy, Senegal’s “Queen of Couture” and its most celebrated fashion designer.
Learn more about this exhibition, on view now alongside three other special exhibitions featuring North Carolina painters and New York–based artist Leonard Drew, in the video below featuring exhibition curator Amanda M. Maples. Get your ticket to visit the exhibition at the NCMA through January 3, 2021, or learn more about the NCMA Virtual Exhibitions Subscription below to dig deeper from home.
NCMA Virtual Exhibitions Subscription
From North Carolina to the world, from the comfort of your home! In this custom online experience, you can explore virtual versions of the eight special exhibitions now on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art, including Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women. These virtual portals are available for you to experience on your own time and at your own speed, for a one-time access fee.
The NCMA Virtual Exhibitions Subscription gives you access to interactive art spotlights and exclusive videos that span exhibitions about Senegalese jewelry, North Carolina painters, site-specific installations, and the history of the Museum campus and collection. The one-time subscription price is $10 for nonmembers and $8 for members and students (plus taxes and fees).
Virtual exhibitions will be made available on this rollout schedule, so there’s always new content to explore:
October 9: Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women
October 16: Leonardo Drew: Making Chaos Legible
November 13: Christopher Holt: Contemporary Frescoes/Faith and Community and Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting
December 11: Reflections on Light: Works from the NCMA Collection and West Building and the Architecture of Light
January 15: Miracle on Morgan Street: The Foundations of the NCMA, 1946–1960 and The Bacchus Conservation Project: The Story of a Sculpture
Note: Your subscription is a one-time purchase, and you will have access to all eight exhibitions by January 2021. If you have questions about the virtual exhibitions, please email Felicia Ingram.
Ingenuity in Action
What’s it like installing art during a pandemic? Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 prevented couriers from the Smithsonian from coming to North Carolina to install some of the objects in Good as Gold. Learn more from Exhibition Designer Molly Trask-Price and Manager of Interpretation Felicia Ingram about how the NCMA re-created these objects with life-size versions in resin.
Strong Women on Screen
We recommend three films told from the perspective of Senegalese women who, through their own difficult situations and circumstances, find strength in themselves, their community, and love.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Black Girl (1966). Director: Ousmane Sembène. Diouana, a Senegalese woman who comes to work for a couple in France with hopes, dreams, and expectations of a new life, instead ends up mistreated, dissatisfied, and lonely. This film is often cited as the first sub-Saharan African film by an African filmmaker to receive international attention. Watch on HBO Max or rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.
Hyenas (1992). Director: Djibril Diop Mambéty. Linguere, an aging, wealthy woman, revisits her home village and rallies the community to help her get revenge on the man who wronged her. Rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.
Atlantics (2008). Director: Mati Diop. In this supernatural drama about the transcendent power of love, Ada, a young woman who loses the love of her life to the sea, investigates the mysterious occurrences that begin affecting her, her friends, and a young detective. Watch on Netflix.
Goldsmith at Work
This video shows the making of the biconical pendant seen in Good as Gold. The video comes with audio description intended for those who are blind or have low vision.
Express Yourself through Jewelry
Senegalese women use jewelry and fashion to express their identity. Make your own rose twist ring and find other family activities at NCMALearn.
Sounds from Senegal
Enjoy music from Senegal with this playlist. If you’d like to explore the music of Africa and the Diaspora more broadly, you can listen here.
Contemporary Clay and Ancient Symbols
How do artworks speak to each other across the ages and tell the stories of human experience? Join us on Tuesday, October 27, for a virtual conversation between Ángel Gonzalez, NCMA curator of Mesoamerican art, and contemporary ceramic artist Natalia Arbelaez. Sign up and find more details about this free event here.
Exhibition curator Amanda M. Maples worked with North Carolina fashion artist Shemora Sheikh to create one-of-a-kind headwraps for mannequins in the exhibition. Get an introduction to Sheikh’s work and learn more about her collaboration in this video. If you’re intrigued, you may enjoy an extended interview with Sheikh that’s included in the NCMA Virtual Exhibitions Subscription.
Martin Breuer, Ceremonial Beaker for the Darmstadt Burial Society, 1711–15, silver, partly gilded, engraved, H. 7 5/8 in., Gift of Steven and Lisa Feierstein in memory and honor of their families, Ugo Goetzl in memory of Sylvia Goetzl, Marion Meyer-Robboy and Stanley Robboy, and other Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery
Among the most exciting recent NCMA acquisitions is a magnificent gilt silver beaker for a German Hevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society responsible for funeral preparations). It was crafted at the beginning of the 18th century by silversmith Martin Breuer in Augsburg, the center of German baroque and rococo goldsmith and silversmith artistry. Engraved with a complex rhyming Hebrew dedication, it was made for the Darmstadt burial society “established in 1710 and reestablished in 1733.”
This cup is ornamented with five rows of roundels engraved with the names of the members of the Holy Society (the literal meaning of Hevra Kadisha) along with the years the men joined the organization. Although associated with the mourning and sadness of funerary traditions, this beaker is actually an object of celebration and life. It was used for a banquet usually held on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Adar—traditionally the birth and death date of Moses—an annual rejoicing by the members of the burial society that was a marked contrast to their usual activities. They celebrated with festive drinking from the same type of grand vessels used by guilds and other fraternal organizations.
Now, as we enter autumn, we mark the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, celebrated this year on September 19 and 20, the first days of the month of Tishrei (Libra). This zodiac symbol of scales is emblematic of the divine judgment for the new year and of the penitential High Holy Days season. The traditional Jewish liturgy declares, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. Who shall live and who shall die.”
Learn more in this feature by Gabriel M. Goldstein, consulting curator of Judaica at the North Carolina Museum of Art, on Circa, the Museum blog, and on NCMALearn.
Judaic Gallery Fosters Cultural Understanding
The Museum’s Judaic art collection celebrates the spiritual life and ceremonies of the Jewish people through ritual objects of artistic excellence. The NCMA is one of only two general art museums in the country with a permanent gallery devoted to Jewish ceremonial art. The Judaic Art Gallery opened in 1983 under the guidance of Dr. Abram Kanof (1903–99), physician, medical professor, and scholar of Jewish art and symbolism. It was Dr. Kanof’s vision—wholeheartedly embraced by the Museum—that the Judaic Art Gallery should not only offer a collection of beautifully designed and crafted objects; it should also serve as a forum for religious and cultural understanding. Learn more about the collection and gallery on the Museum website, and watch videos about the Judaic Art Gallery in this YouTube playlist.
Clay in the Hands of the Potter
In times of great hardship, people of faith have often written, made music, or created art reflecting the need to relinquish control to a higher power. This traditional piyyut, or liturgical poem for Yom Kippur, uses the visual language of an artist to illuminate the practice of acceptance as well as personal responsibility.
Honoring Justice Ginsburg
The Ceremonial Beaker documents the responsibility to ritually prepare and bury the dead, a cherished, revered practice in Jewish communities worldwide. Known as the truest act of kindness, it is done privately and anonymously, and there is no way for repayment or expressions of gratitude. To learn more about these traditions and contemporary practice, see the website Kavod v'Nichum—Honor and Comfort.
This week, the nation mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was the subject of an exhibition by the National Museum of American Jewish History, Notorious RBG (October 2019–January 2020). In this online spotlight, you can read more about the exhibition and about the life of RBG. You can also download stickers and wallpaper backgrounds and watch videos with Justice Ginsburg herself.—Felicia Ingram, Manager of Interpretation, Accessibility, and Diversity
Soul Journeys on Film
The Ceremonial Beaker brings to mind two films that touch on honoring, remembering, and celebrating someone’s life after death. These films also take their protagonists on a journey to learn about their loved ones, the secrets they kept, and their family history.—Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs
Everything Is Illuminated (2005). Director: Liev Schreiber. Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this film follows a young Jewish-American man obsessed with his family history who journeys to Ukraine to learn about his grandfather. Rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.
Nora’s Will / Cinco días sin Nora (2008). Director: Mariana Chenillo. When his ex-wife Nora dies, José is left to handle the funeral, which includes all the Jewish customs and rituals that make planning her burial more than José can manage. Winner of seven Mexican Academy Awards including Best Picture of the Year. Rent on Vimeo.
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, October 7, we’ll explore the shapes, lines, and forms that make up the Ceremonial Beaker. Plus, we’ll create foil rubbings using household materials. Find all the details and reserve your free spot here!
A Space for Communal Reflection
Art can be a powerful medium to reflect, renew, and inspire. The practice of slow art does this in a way that brings people together. Join us for Mindful Museum: Virtual Slow Art Appreciation on Wednesday, October 21 . This free program guides you through centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Monet’s The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset. See more details and sign up here. For ages 16 and up.
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 email@example.com 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.