5 things you may not know about artist Summer Wheat, plus a virtual tour of her Brooklyn studio

5 things you may not know about artist Summer Wheat, plus a virtual tour of her Brooklyn studio

One silverlining of being quarantined at home is the opportunity to see and share experiences that we might not normally be able to experience. Enter our favorite new video pastime: artist interviews and studio tours. Mint’s Chief Curator Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, joined Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat in her studio for a bit of show-and-tell on her technique and processes.

Wheat’s painting With Side With Shoulder is part of the newest New Days, New Works exhibition, and her atrium installation Foragers will be on view throughout the fall. Here are a few fun facts that we learned during Wheat’s studio tour.

  • Summer Wheat is originally from Oklahoma City, OK, attended Savannah College of Art and Design, and has been living and working in Brooklyn, NY for the past 11 years.
  • She has created in many mediums, from painting and sculpture, to even making custom salt and pepper shakers. Wheat says that she “likes the idea of taking a drawing and making it something usable.”
  • Her creative process is two-fold: First, she always starts with a drawing, which she does alone and views this as an intimate space. Then she brings the drawing to the studio where she and her team make the ideas come to life.
  • Her installation on the windows of the Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium will be her third large-scale piece using this material, and reminds her of stained glass. “I wanted to start telling stories in this format,” says Wheat, who is excited to tell impactful stories through visuals, color, and dimension.
  • When the Mint opens, you’ll get to see not only Wheat’s atrium installation, but also her painted piece With Side With Shoulder that uses mesh in our newest exhibition New Days, New Works.


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The Mint Museum From Home is Sponsored by Chase.

Celebrating Juneteenth with community discussions, music, storytelling and more

Celebrating Juneteenth with community discussions, music, storytelling and more

We are entering a new age in our country, where many are opening their eyes, affirming that #BlackLivesMatter, and educating themselves on the still very current issues of racism in America. With these conversations has come the recognition and awareness of Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger brought news to Galveston, Texas that the war had ended and that the enslaved were free. This news was delivered two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and symbolizes the news finally reaching the whole country.

In honor of Juneteenth, and the continued work that is needed to end systemic racism in America, cultural organizations and community groups across Charlotte are hosting programs from block parties and food drives to panels and family days. We encourage everyone to join virtually or in-person (with social distancing, of course), and let the history, creativity, and celebration inspire you to continue learning and doing the work to put an end to racism in our country. 

June 19

The 23rd annual Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas will be held June 19-21 from 10 AM to 8 PM at House of Africa in Plaza Midwood. Attendees can expect a multi-cultural celebration filled with drum circles, local vendors, performances, as well as an open mic. The event is free, and social distancing measures will be honored.


Levine Museum of the New South is hosting a virtual Juneteenth celebration for families from 9 AM to 5 PM. The festivities can be accessed via the museum’s Facebook and Youtube channel, and will feature spoken word, storytelling, history, and music. Visit the website to view the schedule of performances and talks

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library invites ages 12 and older to the virtual Engage 2020: Juneteenth Lunch and Learn noon to 1:30 PM. Learn more about the past, present, and future of civic engagement. Special guest Elisha Minter will reflect on Juneteenth celebrations in Charlotte. Register with a valid email address and the meeting link will be sent a few hours before the program begins.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is hosting an art workshop with artist and educator Alicia L. McDaniel from 3-4 PM, This event is free and people of all ages are encouraged to participate. For more information on supplies or how to join in, visit the Gantt’s website. 

Charlotte Ballet is offering free admission to its regularly scheduled intersession classes (different classes taking place at 3 and 4 PM) and ask that participants donate money that they would have spent on attending the class to an organization that is doing work to advance racial equality in Charlotte or nationwide. More information and class schedules can be found on the Charlotte Ballet website.

From 5-8 PM, the Coalition for a New South is hosting a food truck rally at Hornets Nest Park on Beatties Ford Road. The socially distanced event will be filled with food, music, and speakers. It also serves as a space to remember victims of police brutality and an event to call participants to anti-racist action. More details and park location can be found on the Facebook event page for the gathering. 

June 20

SEAS University, Unitymarkets, and Riziki Zafira together are hosting a Juneteenth Social Distance Community Celebration, filled with community vendors, live entertainment, give-aways, and more. The family-friendly event takes place from noon to 4 PM, and then transitions into a day party for adults from 4-8 PM. The event is free, and more information can be found on the event Facebook page.

Deciphering what the information in a museum label means

The subtle art of the museum label

By Jen Cousar

One of our greatest goals at The Mint Museum is to ensure that art is for everyone. When our doors are open, we host community programs, free evenings, and a whole host of tours and programs to help our community experience art like never before. But even with open doors and open conversation, some things within museums are just down right confusing. Enter the museum label. Many of you have seen these text panels next to every work of art in the museum, but what exactly do they mean? Well, we’re here to explain, so that your next trip to the Mint—and any other museums you visit—will be that much more valuable and accessible. 

Every work of art in The Mint Museum has a label. The label provides useful information about the object, such as when and where it was made and by whom. Most of the labels also have a paragraph offering more detailed information about the object, including who or what it depicts or something interesting about its design or creation. Every label in the museum has the same essential parts, as illustrated by this example:

Artist or maker

If we know who made the work of art, that person’s name appears on the first line. Sometimes a work of art is made by a factory, workshop, or studio, in which case its name appears on that line. If we know the name of an individual working for that organization who contributed to the object’s creation in a key way, then he or she is also identified. “Attributed to” means that we do not have definitive proof that this person created the work, but he or she likely did

Point of origin

Under the artist’s name, we indicate that person’s nationality or culture, and life dates. For organizations, location and years of operation are listed. 

Name and date art was created

Sometimes we know exactly when an object was made, but for historical works of art we often have to estimate. In the label example above, for instance, the work was made circa, or about, 1876.


What the object is made of, whether it be acrylic paint, porcelain, wood, stone, canvas, or any combination of materials. 

Object’s Owner

This information is called the credit line. If the work is owned by a museum, either the Mint or another institution who is lending the object to the museum, then the credit line generally includes whether the object was a gift to the museum or a purchase. It also includes the accession number. This is unique to each object in a museum’s permanent collection and identifies it in the museum’s records. Loans from private collectors do not have accession numbers.


This paragraph gives you background information of interest to help increase understanding of why the object was created. 

9 ways to get creativity flowing during a WFH lunch break

9 ways to get creativity flowing during a WFH lunch break

Noon (Rest from work) (from Millet) (1890)
Vincent Van Gogh (1853,1890)

Doodle and color

While our access to the outside world is limited, doodling is an easy way to get creative with items you already have at home. If you’re more of a color-inside-the-lines kind of person, check out these coloring pages of famous artworks ready to download. Don’t be afraid to mess up, just start.

Use your words

Take five minutes to write a haiku (Japanese style three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable structure) about your day, your mindset, or even what’s on your lunch menu. This idea comes from Inc., and luckily they’ve shared 31 other ways to boost creativity while at home that we think are pretty great.

Practice writing your letters

Lettering has surged in popularity and visibility in the past few years, and is a fun way to share favorite phrases with the world. Draw your own letterforms, or use this printable practice sheet we’ve created as a place to start.

Paint your own masterpiece

Whether you try your hand at watercolors, or break out the finger paint with your kids, painting is a relaxing and beloved art form with many styles to explore. Here’s a watercolor tutorial from Mint staffer Leslie Strauss to get started.

Let your mind wander creating a watercolor painting with markers.


Take it from the experts

Read a book about art or creativity to get your creative juices flowing before your next project. A few favorites: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, How to be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith, and Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists by  Danielle Krysa. (Not into these? Check out what our staff has been reading during this time at home).

quarantine reads_Jen E.
See what Mint staffers are reading for inspiration for a new book while staying at home.

Preserve the moment with photos

Every phone has a camera these days, and thankfully photography is a pastime that we can all enjoy no matter our skill level. Take photos of your surroundings, your family, or try your hand at nature shots. Check our guide to getting your best snapshots with tips from some Charlotte professional photographers.

“Pay attention to your light source (or the position of the sun if you are outside). Make sure the light source is either in front of or behind your child,” says Elly Kinne. Photo by Elly Kinne

Build your creativity soundtrack

Find an already made playlist on Spotify or Pandora, or dive into a genre you’re unfamiliar with. Artist Michael Sherrill shares this favorite playlist.

Take a class and support a local business

Skillpop Anywhere and other local businesses are using art as inspiration for classes you can take at home to grow your next hobby or skill.

Visit a museum

The experience of seeing artwork in person can’t be replicated, but the Mint—and many other museums across the world—are taking a chance on virtual tours, videos, and all kinds of alternative methods to bring art to your couch, kitchen table, or sunroom. Join curator Brian Gallagher for a gallery tour of our Classic Black exhibition, or travel a little farther from home with tours from The National Gallery in London, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, or the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in Brazil. 

Take a virtual tour of the Mint’s “Classic Black: The Basalt Sculptures of Josiah Wedgwood and His Contemporaries” for an art break.


Jen Cousar, a graphic design artist for the Mint Museum, stands in front of the American Idol tour bus.

Music @ the Mint: An Inside View of ‘American Idol’

Note: Producers of the hit TV show “American Idol” recently held open auditions at Levine Center for the Arts and Mint Museum Uptown. Two members of the Mint staff agreed to share their audition experiences.

Jen Cousar, graphic designer:

It was 9 AM, and I had absolutely no idea what I’d gotten myself into. I’d chosen my song, practiced for friends and family, got dressed up, and had finally arrived uptown in front of The Mint Museum and there it was: the “American Idol” bus.

Beyond the bus were hundreds of wide-eyed (and slightly sleepy) Idol hopefuls lined up and filling the sunny alley in front of me. It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I walked toward the check-in line, and couldn’t help but smile as a large group of auditioners sang the chorus of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele in perfect harmony. It was pure magic.

I made my way down the alley and into the check-in line. I was immediately greeted by a kind, funny fellow auditioner named V. (I’ll call her V here because she had very intentionally not told anyone that she was auditioning, and I don’t want to mess that up for her). She had a guitar on her back and the biggest smile on her face. I learned that she spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to South America to visit family, was in school and wanted to be a doctor, and was going to sing an original song for her audition. We laughed and chatted as we filled out our extensive questionnaires and video release forms.

Soon after, I was able to submit my forms and jump to the front of the line (shoutout to the Mint and producers on that one!) and was lined up with three other contestants. One girl had auditioned for “American Idol” three times prior; another was nervous because someone in the tent next to us was singing the same song she’d chosen; the final man was in a band and would be playing at Matthews Alive that night.

As I laughed and talked with the many people around me, I was comforted to see so much diversity. We were all there because of a love of music and song, and a desire to share that with the world. It didn’t matter where we were from or our different backgrounds, in this space we were unified in our experience and connected by commonality.

My group was called forward and one by one we sang. Each different, and in my opinion each doing a great job. I sang a country song called “Something More” by Sugarland, a song I’d grown up loving. It felt amazing. Once we each sang, we were politely told that none of us would be moving on.

Sure, I’d hoped for better, but as I walked away to find my way back to work, I felt like I’d accomplished something. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t afraid, I was just a happy girl who got to sing her song surrounded by wonderful people.

Toni Pennington, Mint Museum Shops:

Of all the things I have done in my 24 years, I’d have to say that this is the craziest. Me, being the ambivert that I am, refused and convinced myself that I am not that “special voice” that “American Idol” is looking for. When I told my mom about it, she was beside herself and urging me to audition. At first I was resistant, but finally I decided, what could it hurt?

The days leading up to the audition, I prepared my song and practiced day in and out in preparation. I even recruited my acting coach to help with a video submission. When the day finally came, I was just a bucket of nerves. I put on my favorite outfit, grabbed my unicorn water bottle and head wrap, and made my way uptown to work and the audition. My coworkers were extremely encouraging and gave me the mojo I needed to go into the streets for my audition.

There were a few hiccups on the way to the table, but I finally made it. I was standing in line at the table with only three people in front of me to sing but I was so nervous I was ready to abandon my spot in line. My throat went dry, my arm got all tingly, and I had to go to the bathroom really badly but then finally my courage took over and said, “No matter what, it’s an experience. You can do it and you WILL do it because it’s all just for fun and the love of music. You got this.” With that, I took a sip of my water, shook out my hands and stepped up to the table with my unicorn water bottle, and sang my heart out. The nerves went away, the anxious voice in my head silenced, and I just let go.

In the end, the producer said no, but I was not discouraged or hurt. I felt so proud of myself for going up there and singing even when I had convinced myself otherwise. Was I disappointed? A little bit, but it was the most fun I had that day and can’t wait to do more auditions in the future.