Gallery Chat with Curator and Community, Part 1
Jon Stulhman,PhD, senior curator for american, modern, and contemporary art, and Rubie R. Britt-Height, director of community relations at the Mint, look at two pieces of contemporary art in the museum’s collection. This video is a part of new video series that examines and compares works of art currently installed in the Mint’s Contemporary Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Star Gallery is a place for students from around Charlotte to have their works displayed in The Mint Museum. The works presented rotate periodically to correspond with the themes present in our current special exhibitions and our permanent collection.
BURN YOUR ASSUMPTIONS | Spring-Summer 2020
Inspired by the Immersed In Light: Studio Drift at the Mint exhibition, Hough High School students worked to create pieces that explored the relationship between humanity, nature, and technology. Creating a dialogue about the in and out of body conversations we have with these relationships was our main focus. Throughout the work you can see that students worked with many materials, both tangible and digital. These works are from Katherine Allen’s Visual Art Honors and AP classes as well as Justin Pierce’s Media Arts Honors and AP classes.
Katherine Allen’s Visual Art Honors and AP classes
Justin Pierce’s Media Arts Honors and AP classes
A look at the upcoming exhibition W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine, opening at Mint Museum Uptown
By Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, Chief Curator & Curator of Contemporary Art
On November 9, 2019, the world celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Most can easily call up images from that exhilarating evening in 1989: young Germans in T-shirts and jeans destroying the concrete dividers with sledgehammers, armed soldiers looking on with stoic reserve, people rushing through holes and rubble to embrace their counterparts on the other side. The world saw the joy of people uniting, and as the end of the 20th century approached, the toppled wall felt like the dawn of a new age of reason. As the violence of World War II receded into history, it appeared that so, too, was the ancient, simple brutality of dividing people with walls.
And yet, the numbers offer a different narrative. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were 15 border walls around the world. As of May 2018, there were more than 77, according to Elisabeth Vallet, a geography professor at University of Quebec-Montreal. Over one-third of the world’s nation states now define their borders with a barrier. And new walls keep going up.
This central issue is at the heart of an exhibition coming to Mint Museum Uptown: W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine. I began working on this show three years ago, when Katie Hollander, the director of the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, asked me to tell the story of the role of walls in human history through a photography exhibition. The result went on view in October 2019 at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, a free exhibition space devoted to photography founded by Wallis Annenberg and the Trustees of the Annenberg Foundation in 2009. I am delighted that the exhibition will open in February at The Mint Museum.
The show, which will run from February 24 to July 25 in the Level 4 Brand Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown, explores various aspects of “walls,” whether they are made of stone, steel, sand, or wire. The space is divided into six sections—Delineation, Defense, Deterrent, The Divine, Decoration, and The Invisible—with each section anchored by a central photo essay. Two of those essays were commissioned for the exhibition by the Annenberg Space for Photography. Magnum photographer Moises Saman documented the Peace Walls in Northern Ireland, while SHAN Wallace photographed Detroit’s Eight-Mile Wall, a painted-over wall that was originally built to segregate a black community from an adjacent white community.
Walls aren’t limited to a particular culture, region, or era. The exhibition features 130 images spanning six continents and 67 photographers of all stripes: commercial photographers, documentarians, photojournalists, artists, protestors, explorers, and in one case, a Tibetan Buddhist monk.
Some walls featured occur naturally, like the glacier in the Jango Thang plain. Others are constructed with intention, such as Linda Foard Roberts’ aptly titled Divided in Death photograph that captures a low stone graveyard wall, delineating the buried bodies of the enslaved from the whites.
While many of the images in the exhibition connote division, some show unity. Consider the way neighbors converge before the stepwell wall in Jaipur, India, captured in Ami Vitale’s Ripple Effect. Artist Swoon converted a wall into a canvas for a monumental art project that celebrates community at the site of Prevention Point, the groundbreaking addiction treatment center in Philadelphia. And during her work in Detroit, SHAN Wallace found families who chose to embrace the Eight-Mile Wall, rather than be hindered by the history embedded in the bricks and mortar.
Photographers have been shooting walls from the earliest days of photography. In fact, one of the first known photographs is Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s 1827 heliograph showing the monumental walls outside his window in Le Gras, France. And while walls may be built for one reason, they often stay up for another. The Moroccan city of Essaouira and the Croatian city of Dubrovnik once fortified their ports for protection; today, tourists visit them for their picturesque quaintness. The Western Wall in Jerusalem started as a retaining wall for King Solomon’s Second Temple, but it has become one of the most holy sites for the Jewish people and is considered hallowed by many other religions.
What’s the attraction of walls for photographers? Perhaps it’s that, like photographs, walls are human constructs that describe and circumscribe space. And, like walls, photographs can represent hope or conquest. Both can be admired for their beauty and power, and both can make us feel protected or intimidated.
We constantly contend with walls, whether they are solid, porous, real, or imaginary. This photography exhibition invites you to reflect on the omnipresence of walls and to consider your own. Where do the barriers start in your life? And do you need them to live the life you want?
W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine is generously presented by PNC Financial Services with additional support from The Mint Museum Auxiliary
Individual support from Laura and Mike Grace, Deidre and Clay Grubb, Leigh-Ann and Martin Sprock, and Betsy Rosen and Liam Stokes.
This story was originally published in the January, 2020 issue of Inspired, the Mint’s biannual member magazine.