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The NCMA through Artists’ Eyes

/ July 19, 2021
Museums serve as entertainment but also inspiration. We are delighted when visitors re-create our art pieces, put their own spin on it, and share with us. I have been inspired by the communities that the Museum serves, communities that also help serve the Museum! We at the NCMA are amazed by how creative our patrons are and have picked a selection of artists’ work to share.
Savannah Stephens (Instagram handle: @savannytheartist, Facebook: Savanny the Artist), Blue Panel 2.0, 2019, acrylic paint, oil paint marker, and Liquitex on canvas, 36 × 24 in., Courtesy of the artist

Savannah Stephens: My first memory of the NCMA was going to see Rodin’s The Thinker with my dad in the early 2000s. My second memory was in high school, making fun of the big blue rhombus on the wall. Blue Panel by Ellsworth Kelly never made much sense to me over the years, so I decided to re-create it. I mimicked its shape and added my love of patterns and colors to give this piece the Savanny touch.

Rachel Tunney (Instagram handle: @iarted), Rodin Reflections, 2018, oil on canvas, 16 × 20 in., Courtesy of the artist

Rachel Tunney: This piece I created from a photo I took at an NCMA field trip with my art class in high school. It was peak autumn weather, and the trees just looked absolutely stunning reflecting on the pond—so I had to paint it! Something about the reflection of the statue also reminded me about how all the Rodin statues are one of many cast sculptures. I enjoy revisiting the NCMA every now and then. Every visit I find something new about a piece—or think of a piece in a different way—and discover and learn something new.

Juliet Furst (Instagram Handle: @julietfurst; www.julietfurst.com), Notes on Pattern, Inspired by Frida, 2020, Hahnemühle watercolor sketchbook and Posca paint pens, 8 × 5.5 in., Courtesy the artist

Juliet Furst: Each visit to the NCMA teaches me something brand new to love about the world of art. I like to keep a theme in mind when making my sketchbook pages, and as a surface pattern design junkie, I, of course, couldn’t keep my eyes off the bold, biophilic shapes Frida painted, and the patterned textiles she wore.

Attached is my sketchbook page from my visit to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera y El Modernismo Mexicano exhibition in January 2020. For a little backstory: Each January my family (five wacky artists!) loads up the car and makes a day trip up from Wilmington to the NCMA. Each of us inevitably wanders from the group at different points, mesmerized by an artwork or a room that strikes us most that day. As a surface pattern designer, I make patterned textiles, so this was (obviously) an absolute knockout of a show for me. I wish I could visit it over and over again!

Keren M. Sanchez (Instagram handle: @kerensanchez_art), Mo, 2016, acrylic on paper, 5 × 3 in., Courtesy of the artist

Keren M. Sanchez: At a young age, I was introduced to art by my mom, and in middle school my dad bought me a Donna Dewberry flower book from a flea market. I used that book to learn how to paint flowers; then it became a hobby, and over the years I sold my paintings to family, to friends, and at local events. Throughout college I used art as a stress reliever, and that’s when I created “Mo, the paperdoll.” I started Mo to share local mural paintings on Instagram, and later I used her to show that art can be found anywhere.

 I love visiting the NCMA when I can. Every visit there is always something different to see or explore. My favorite part about the NCMA is how they bring art and nature together in the Park. I enjoy seeing and interacting with the outdoor installations, and this year I loved seeing the vibrant colors the flowers brought to the Park. Art is not only found inside a museum. Art can also be found outdoors, especially in nature.

Julia Sharrar Van Zant (Instagram handle: sharrardesign), Untitled, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 10 × 8 in., Courtesy of the artist

Julia Sharrar: This piece is inspired by a summer afternoon in the NCMA Park. My roommates and I needed a release from being inside after the first wave of the lockdown, and the Park was a favorite of ours to visit. We would often go there as a means to relax and enjoy the sculpture in the area on a warm summer day, listen to the outdoor concerts, and attend college nights on Fridays. We sat under the shade of a few trees in front of Gyre, by Thomas Sayre, and read, sketched, talked, and relaxed.

It was a way to feel normal again when everything seemed to be so unknown about what the next couple of months would hold. I wanted to capture the warmth and peace we felt that day. Little did I know a few weeks after completing the painting that my now husband would propose to me in front of Gyre. He knew the NCMA is my favorite place to visit in Raleigh and a place that we enjoyed together. It is a moment I will always cherish and remember anytime I look at the painting. Gyre and the NCMA Park will always hold a special place in my heart.

Alicia O. (Instagram handle: @robinandladybugz.doodles), Untitled, after Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s Portrait of a Youth Crowned with Flowers, 2020, pencil and sketchbook paper, 8 × 6 in., Courtesy of the artist

Alicia O: I don’t know what it was about this specific painting that stuck out to me, but I was captivated by it. I rediscovered a photo I’d taken of the painting Portrait of a Youth Crowned with Flowers several years ago at NCMA, right around the time my civics class was discussing the Renaissance period. I’d been doing a lot of mindless drawing, and I wanted to look back at meaningful pieces. Applying the “draw this in your style” challenge to this painting was the perfect chance for me to experiment, explore, and draw something with more meaning and artistic value.

I’ve been going to the NCMA forever. I’ve been to many outdoor movies, concerts, exhibitions, summer camps when I was little, etc. Most recently I’ve had fun doing some photography outside with my close friend. The NCMA has always been a fun place to go enjoy all the arts I love.

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