Get to know artist Gisela Colón
Artist Gisela Colón joins Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Mint, for a discussion on her evolution as an artist, her transition from her home island of Puerto Rico to her adopted home of Los Angeles, and her mesmerizing techniques and unique art projects. Colón’s work was on view in the Mint’s recent exhibition In Vivid Color.
The discussion concludes with a Q&A segment where Colón answers questions previously submitted by the Mint audience.
Jamil Dyair Steele’s “Black Lives Matter” mural – Curators’ Pick
Local artist and educator Jamil Dyair Steele painted this powerful mural after the death of George Floyd and amid the protests that took place around the United States during the summer of 2020. Decorating the chipboard that was used to cover business windows in preparation of the protests, artists around the city of Charlotte subverted the implicit gesture of racism that assumed criminal violence would inevitably be present at a Black Lives Matter march.
Steele’s mural is on view at Mint Museum Uptown in the Carroll Gallery. It is free for the public to view.
Shop artful while supporting Black artists at the Mint Museum Store
For Black History Month, Mint Museum Store staff curated a selection of items that celebrate Black stories, art, and artists.
This 1,000-piece puzzle, is both a social statement and a striking graphic. Brightly dressed figures, silhouetted on a colorful, 60’s-inspired psychedelic backdrop, are posed so as to engage us in conversation about love, empathy, compassion, inclusion, and justice. Illustrated by artist Aurelia Durand, and made by “a woman-owned, mother-run, sustainably sourced” company, the puzzle also includes a full-color image reference print. Find Your Voice jigsaw puzzle, $24.
This face covering features artist Willie Cole’s Black Art Matters logo and the artist’s iconic scorch mark. Through the use of simple objects like an iron, Cole creates symbolic designs that have profound meanings. Each reusable mask is made with three layers of fabric and is machine washable. Black Art Matters face mask, $18.
These 100 stunning postcards celebrate 50 groundbreaking African American women, from Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks to Angela Davis and Beyoncé—published in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Each card features the portrait on the front and, on the back, an inspiring quote, short biographical information, and space for writing a message. Brave. Black. First. postcard set, $20.
This book surveys the work of a new generation of Black artists, features the voices of a diverse group of curators who are on the cutting edge of contemporary art, and showcases the art collection of Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi. As mission-driven collectors, Lumpkin and Boccuzzi have championed emerging artists of African descent through museum loans and institutional support, but until now, there has never been an opportunity to consider their acclaimed collection as a whole. Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists, $49.95.
The Incredible Joy of Collecting African American Art: My Journey from Frogtown, S.C. to the National Gallery
Written by Patrick Diamond, The Incredible Joy of Collecting African American Art: My Journey from Frogtown, S.C. to the National Gallery chronicles the author’s journey from growing up in poverty to avidly collecting African American art. Growing up during Jim Crow restrictions, Diamond describes a childhood with limited opportunities and reinforced social, political, and cultural inequities layered with personal stories of how his love of art began with his grandmother, and how he and his wife joined forces to support and celebrate African American artists. The Incredible Joy of Collecting African American Art: My Journey from Frogtown, S.C. to the National Gallery, $30.
After 13 years in the making, award-winning documentary photographer Ken West releases a book of photographs entitled The Beauty of Everyday Thangs, a first-of-its-kind photo collection inspired by the art of mindfulness as a testament to black humanity. While the majority of the images are of folks in the midst of what West terms “revolutionary normalcy,” the book also features candid moments with cultural icons like legendary lyricists and activists Clifford “T.I.” Harris, stic of dead prez, British actor and musician Tricky, and groundbreaking filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles. Photographs taken in Havana, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit using West’s collection of film cameras (some as many as 60+ years old) are included in the nearly 250-page book. The Beauty of Everyday Thangs, $29.95.
Black Lives Matter T-shirts
Stop by either the Mint Museum Store Uptown or at Mint Museum Randolph to purchase an official Charlotte Black Lives Matter Mural T-shirt. Available in sizes XS-XXL. $36 each with $5 from the sale of each shirt going to a charitable organization.
Untitled (Shield) by Elizabeth Talford Scott – Curators’ Pick
In celebration of Black History Month, Annie Carlano, Senior Director of Craft, Design & Fashion, shares details about Untitled (Shield) by nationally renowned fiber artist Elizabeth Talford Scott. Untitled (Shield) is on view in the fiber art gallery of the craft and design gallery at Mint Museum Uptown.
Film produced by SmARTlab
The Mint Museum from Home is presented by Chase.
The queen in Netflix’s hit series “Bridgerton” is none other than Charlotte’s Charlotte
Charlotte’s Charlotte is part of The Mint Museum’s permanent collection and is currently in the traveling exhibition Under Construction: Collage from The Mint Museum, which is about to open at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, TN. It will then travel to the Knoxville Museum of Art later in the year before returning to Charlotte.
“Using the history of art as my playground, I toy with paintings from the past, and I connect them to the present,” says Ken Aptekar. His Charlotte’s Charlotte references Mint Museum Randolph’s 1772 coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay. By appropriating Ramsay’s imagery and adding his own original text on sandblasted panels that hover above the surface of repainted details excerpted from the original painting, Aptekar initiates a dialogue between his work, Ramsay’s painting, and the viewer.
Prior to creating Charlotte’s Charlotte, Aptekar met with diverse groups within the community to gain a better understanding of what Queen Charlotte means to Charlotteans. Words and phrases such as BLACK WHITE OTHER and IMMIGRANT reflect the distinct voices of the Charlotte community and function as a means of eliciting a variety of interpretations. With these texts overlaying the paintings, Aptekar intentionally addresses the issue of Queen Charlotte’s race (she was of North African, Portuguese, and German descent) and invites us to compare the implications of ethnic identity at the time of Ramsay’s portrait, and the multiplicity of meanings that this may hold for contemporary viewers.
Above: Ken Aptekar (American, born in 1950). “Charlotte’s Charlotte,” 2009, oil on canvas on panel with glass. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Charles W. Beam Endowment Fund and James G. and Mary Lou Babb, Gray Ellison and Selena Beaudry, David and Jane Conlan, Bill and Sally Cooper, Fairfax and Hillary Cooper, Walter and Meredith Dolhare, Mike and Libba Gaither, Mike F. and Laura Babb Grace, Beverly and Jim Hance, Mary Ann Grace and Mary Beth Grace Hollett, John and Stacy Sumner Jesso, Thomas E. Kanes and Susan Valentine Kanes, Stephen and Laura Philipson, Bill and Pat Williamson, Ginger Kemp, Bob and Peggy Culbertson, Norris W. and Kathryn Preyer, Claudia W. Belk, Janet and Lowell Nelson and exchange funds from the gifts of various donors. 2010.24a-f. © Ken Aptekar, All Rights Reserved, 2009
Kuba textile project shines a spotlight on the ‘kings and queens’ of Grier Heights Community Youth Arts Program
When the Covid-19 pandemic pushed The Mint Museum to temporarily close its doors in spring of 2020, the Mint’s Learning & Engagement team turned hands-on art classes into virtual Create-at-Home art kits that included art supplies and instructions, as well as information that ties the art project back to works of art in The Mint Museum’s collection. One of the first kits created was how to make a Kuba-style T-shirt based on Kuba textiles in the Mint’s collection.
Children in the Grier Heights Community Youth Arts Program used the Kuba-style T-shirt kits to create T-shirts that showcase their individual styles and artistic talents. Alexandra Brown, a 10th-grade honor student at Myers Park High School, and teen leader at the Mint, created the video above that captures what the Grier Heights students created using the Kuba-style T-shirt kits.
The Kuba people are part of approximately 16 Bantu speaking groups living in the southeastern Congo in central Africa. Kuba textiles are handwoven using strands from raffia palm trees with earth-tone designs created using vegetable dyes. Kuba cloth is known for its complex, bold geometric designs that have been carried through generations for ceremonial purposes.
Want to make your own Kuba-style T-shirt? Download the instructions here.
Many Voices Echo in the Mint’s American Galleries
Revamped American installation offers new works and new perspectives for museum visitors.
By Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, Senior Curator of American Art
When Mint Museum Uptown opened its doors in October 2010, one of the most exciting opportunities was the expanded space that became available for the display of its American art collection, roughly tripling what had been available at Mint Museum Randolph. While a number of new objects have entered the collection, and special loans from private collectors have come and gone, the American galleries have remained relatively static over the past 10 years.
The summer of 2020 marked the first major changes in the American galleries since Mint Museum Uptown opened a decade ago. The incorporation of 18th- and 19th-century paintings from the Adams collection bequest, special loans of a monumental canvas by Julius Leblanc Stewart, a curvaceous Gorham art nouveau punch bowl, a sumptuous floral still life by Severin Roesen, and a new pocket gallery installation featuring a diverse array of images of America at mid-century, are just a few of the visitors can experience.
The most significant change, however, occurs in the first gallery of the Level 4 wing that provides access to both the American, and Modern and Contemporary collections. Rather than starting a chronological journey through American art history, this gallery puts the focus on the theme of portraiture, probing this enduring topic across time and different artistic mediums. The 13 works of art featured in this installation reflect the museum’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion with works of art by women, as well as African-American, Latino, and European artists.
Instead of being greeted by an 18th-century image of children hung over a Chippendale fall-front desk, visitors now encounter Kehinde Wiley’s iconic Philip the Fair juxtaposed with John Singleton Copley’s St. Cecilia: Portrait (Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby) created more than 200 years earlier. Visitors are encouraged to compare and contrast these two full-length portraits, taking time to consider how the artist engaged with and depicted the person portrayed, as well as the reasons behind the creation of each portrait.
These kinds of pairings are echoed throughout the rest of the gallery in works executed in media ranging from oil on canvas to photography to hand-painted porcelain. One example of these juxtapositions is Robert Henri’s early 20th-century painting Dorita, which features a young Spanish dancer gazing boldly out at the viewer. To its right contemporary photographer Ruben Natal-San Miguel’s vibrant photograph Mama, in which a young woman with vitiligo poses with a similar intense gaze in front of a brilliant red background. These two portraits of women with intense expressions provide a striking contrast to photograph Ai, in which the artist, dressed in black, lies prone in front of a black background, twisted away from the viewer. The ways in which artists depict family and loved ones is also explored in paintings by Kay Sage and Paul Cadmus, and photographs by Linda Foard Roberts and Oliver Wasow. In the center of the space is Cindy Sherman’s Madame Pompadour (née Poisson) Soup Tureen, which probes questions of identity, history, gender, power, and self-portraiture.
Throughout the level 4 galleries, the commitment to diversity and inclusion continues, as visitors encounter 20th- and 21st-century works by artists, including Blanche Lazzell, Augusta Savage, Helen Lundeberg, John Biggers, Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Barbara Pennington, Haywood “Bill” Rivers, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Juan Logan, Leo Twiggs, E.V. Day, Iruka Maria Toro, and Vik Muniz, and a special-focus exhibition on photographer Linda Foard Roberts.
Although the cross-disciplinary thematic approach is highlighted in a permanent collection gallery, visitors are encouraged to think about how artists have engaged with other themes across time—landscape, still life, history, abstraction—as they explore the rest of the collection and other parts of the museum.
This story was originally published in the January, 2021 issue of Inspired, the Mint’s biannual member magazine.
Delhom Service League Studio Visit with Julie Wiggins
Join the Delhom Service League as they visit potter Julie Wiggins in her studio to hear about her current work, learn about her creative techniques, and hear about some of the challenges facing potters during the pandemic.
In Vivid Color Scratch Art Project
Create beautiful DIY scratch-off work of art with this video tutorial from our Learning and Engagement team. This project is inspired by our exhibition In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art, on view at Mint Museum Uptown through February.
• white copier or drawing paper
• black tempera/poster paint
• liquid dish soap
• wooden skewer