Through the Lens
New photography installations tell the stories of people and places, past and present
By Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, Chief Curator & Curator of Contemporary Art
Over the last year, the Mint has been exposing its members to more photography, both in the galleries and online. On March 22, 2020—as it happened, one day before the museum closed to the public due to Covid-19—the Mint installed a mid-career survey of Charlotte photographer Linda Foard Roberts only a few weeks before she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Extended through December 2021, the exhibition Responsibilities in Representing explores eight series from Foard Roberts’s career, each showcasing a different relationship between an image maker and her subject. Some are loved ones—friends after cancer diagnoses, her children as they grew into their own—captured at pivotal moments when they found steel in their fragile mortality. Some are invisible traces, as in her most recent series Lament, a song of sorrow for those not heard, which explores Southern spaces that both marked racial divisions and allowed for liberation of the enslaved. When she photographs the natural world—mist on a lake, an aged oak—the results embody the human history of those spaces, allowing viewers to transcend the limitations of the physical world.
Although her images have an ethereal quality, due in part to the large-format camera and cracked 19th-century lenses that Foard Roberts often uses, they are also sober reminders of the cycle of life and continuous history in which we all live. These dynamics are so vivid in the work because Foard Roberts feels them herself. In her book Passages, Foard Roberts writes, “Southern landscapes are inherently scarred and stained by an oppressive past. It is difficult to reflect on Southern land without the shadow of sadness from our history; and I can’t escape that my roots are dusted with these injustices. This work is driven by a longing to connect with this land and for a miraculous healing from its past.”
Work from Foard Roberts Lament series is also included in the W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine exhibition that is on view at Mint Museum Uptown. W|ALLS was originally scheduled to open in May 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Shipping crates containing much of the show were delayed, and the Annenberg Space for Photography— the originator of the show—was forced to permanently close its doors after 10 years of visionary shows, and gifted the exhibition prints to the Mint. Through more than 130 photos by 67 photographers across the globe, W|ALLS explores various aspects of barriers whether they are made of stone, steel, sand, or wire. The exhibition will be divided into six sections—Delineation, Defense, Deterrent, The Divine, Decoration, and The Invisible—with each section anchored by a central photo essay.
In addition to these two photography shows on view in the galleries, the Mint’s first online exhibition: Expanding the Pantheon: Women R Beautiful launched on the Mint’s website in November 2020. It presents 26 portraits by Ruben Natal-San Miguel, whose Mama became an audience favorite when it joined the collection in 2018. Natal-San Miguel photographs subjects not historically seen on museum walls, and his new series continues that project, presenting feminine beauty in a myriad of shades—literally and symbolically. In addition to Mama, two other online images—Mary C. Curtis (Journalist) and Three Muslim Women—can be seen in the Contemporary Galleries. They were donated to the museum last year thanks to the generosity of Dana Martin Davis (who also donated Mama) and Natal-San Miguel.
As art historian Coco Fusco observes in the book Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, “The photographic image plays a central role in American culture.” We have seen this most prominently in the press, advertising, and social media, and we will continue to examine its effects through our photography exhibitions at the Mint. Look for an increased presence of photography online and in the galleries in the coming years.
This story was originally published in the January, 2021 issue of Inspired, the Mint’s biannual member magazine.
Stephen Compton: From Jugtown Pottery to hyalyn Porcelain: A Collector’s Journey
Delhom Service League Studio Visit
Steve Compton discusses his history as a collector of NC pottery, and how his interest led him to become a noted researcher and author. Steve shares details about his collection of pottery, now including over 2,000 pieces, and some of the many books he has authored.
Black Stacked Circles by Ibrahim Said – Curators’ Pick
Annie Carlano, Curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion, shares one of her favorite works in The Mint Museum’s Collection. Black Stacked Circles by Ibrahim Said is an intricately carved ceramic sculpture on view at Mint Museum Uptown.
The Mint Museum From Home is Presented By Chase.
Call for Artists
Coined in the South: 2022
The Young Affiliates of the Mint, in collaboration with The Mint Museum, are seeking works of art produced by southeastern artists for the second installment of Coined in the South. This juried exhibition will be held from March 25, 2022 to July 3, 2022 at Mint Museum Uptown.
Coined in the South is about bridging the gap between the museum, the gallery, and the studio, to highlight the innovative and thought-provoking works produced by the creative innovators of the southeastern arts community. The show is not confined to any single aesthetic, theme, or medium.
Prize money will be awarded. There will be a $10,000 juror-awarded grand prize, a $5,000 Young Affiliates of the Mint member-awarded prize, and a $1,000 “People’s Choice” prize awarded by the general public at the conclusion of the show. All selected artists will be provided with a $200 stipend to offset shipping and travel costs.
UPDATE: Call for submissions is closed. Artists who submitted works for consideration will be informed whether they were selected by August 25.
• Hallie Ringle, curator of contemporary art at the Birmingham Museum of Art
• Lydia Thompson, artist and chair of the Art and Art History Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
• Ken West, photographer and digital experience designer. Winner of the inaugural Coined in the South “People’s Choice” award
What’s eligible: Submitted works of art must be less than two years old, non-perishable, do not produce excessive noise pollution, and do not result in physical harm to any living beings. Installation, video, and performance artists are encouraged to apply but must provide instructions for installation and space requirements, as well as recordings and/or documentation of past performances when available.
Exhibition dates: March 25, 2022 to July 3, 2022
Where: Mint Museum Uptown, 500 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Deadline for submissions: Due at 11:59 PM June 4, 2021 at https://form.jotform.com/210624429601044. All works of art must be delivered ready to install between February 28 and March 18. Artists are responsible for the cost of shipping. Each accepted artist will be given a $200 stipend to offset shipping and travel costs.
Entry Fee: $50. Each artist may submit up to five works as part of their application. The one-time $50 fee covers all submissions.
Contact: Kaitlyn McElwee, Art Show Chair at email@example.com
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.
Studio Visit with Amy Sanders and Ron Philbeck
Delhom Service League
Amy and Ron discuss their individual work, and then discuss their collaboration on a series of work created during the pandemic. While their individual work is very different, their collaborative work has been very popular and a great learning process for them both. If you would like to see more of their work, you can visit their individual websites, amysanderspottery.com and ronphilbeckpottery.com. Both potters are scheduled to be exhibitors at the Delhom’s Potters Market at the Mint on Sept. 25, 2021.
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.
Movable Magnet Art inspired by artist Susan Point
You can use recycled bottle caps and a lid to create movable magnetic art, inspired by this carved and painted red cedar sculpture Salmon Spawning Run by artist Susan Point. The magnets can be arranged in different ways to form new works of art.
• Bottle caps
• Mason jar or plastic recycled lid
• Colored paper
• 1” and 1/2” paper punch
• Small magnets
• Newspaper or washable table covering
•Epoxy Resin (We used Art ‘N Glow Clear Casting Resin for the demo. It is BPA & VOC free, non-flammable, low odor, and non-toxic when used as directed.
Tip: A solid one-piece lid works best
1. Decorate the bottle caps
Start by punching out both 1” and ½” paper circles from your colored paper. Use a dot of glue to attach the larger circle to the inside of the bottle cap. Put a dot of glue on the back of the smaller circle and place over top of the larger circle in the bottle cap. Don’t worry; it does not have to be perfectly centered!
2. Design your centerpiece
Draw and cut out the shape of a fish. Use it to as a stencil to trace a second one on a different color paper. Cut out the second one. You can add eyes or gills if you want.
3. Make your piece pop with a splash of color
If you would like to include a background color, use the lid to trace a circle. You will need to cut inside of your traced line to make the circle a little smaller than the lid itself so that it fits inside the rim. Glue the background circle to the lid. Arrange and glue the fish on top of the background.
4. Fill the bottle caps with epoxy resin (optional)
Pour just enough epoxy liquid into the bottle cap and lid to completely cover the paper shapes being careful not to overfill. Let dry overnight. The epoxy will form a hard, glass-like coating.
Mix epoxy according to manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area with a table covering.
5. Add the magnets
Once everything is dry, turn the bottle caps and lid over. Glue one magnet to the back of each and let dry.
6. Assemble your work of art
Arrange the magnets on your refrigerator or other magnetic surface.
7. Experiment by arranging magnets in different ways to create new designs
About the Artist:
Native to British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, the Coast Salish First Peoples consist of several groups with distinct languages but similar customs. Each group has a strong spiritual connection to the land and water of the Pacific Northwest, which has provided their livelihood for thousands of years. Artist Susan Point’s knowledge of the style and meaning behind the imagery allows her to honor the traditions of her ancestors while expanding on the designs in a contemporary way. The red cedar roundel Salmon Spawning Run features carved and painted salmon and clusters of eggs. The vibrant eggs complete the fish’s lifecycle, as the renewal of wild salmon (still caught using traditional methods) is critical to keeping Mother Earth in balance.
Susan Point’s website: https://susanpoint.com/
This idea brought to you by Maggie Burgan
The Mint Museum From Home is Presented By Chase.
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.
Leah Leitson Ceramics: Then and Now
Delhom Service League Studio Visit
Join the Delhom Service League as they Leah Leitson, ceramic artist and educator based in Asheville NC. She discusses her career in ceramics from her first interest as a studio potter to her current role as Professor of Ceramics at Warren Wilson College. For more information about Leah, you can visit her website at www.leahleitson.com.