Airing out the “Dirty” Laundry

Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry

On View at Mint Museum Uptown

Local visual artist Andrea Downs created the Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry installation to capture the spirit of women by creating opportunities for them share their stories in their own words. These stories of strength, unity, hope, injustice, and exclusion are joined together on a clothesline. A community art movement, the installation is ever growing, and women can participate by adding their stories to the collection. Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry is a call to gather, to listen and be heard—and to resist hate and injustice by fostering love and understanding.

HB2 Squirrels shake up expectations of social norms and shine spotlight LGBTQIA+ issues

HB2 Squirrels shake up expectations of social norms,  shine spotlight on LGBTQIA+ issues

HB2 Squirrels, a pair of gender-symbol-wielding squirrels covered in multicolored war paint greet visitors in the main entryway of Mint Museum Uptown. The squirrels, part of The Mint Museum collection, pose a striking opposition to expectations of social norms and what one expects to be met with in a museum.

 

Michelle Erickson. “HB2 Squirrels,” 2016, salt-glazed stoneware, porcelain slips. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Charles W. Beam Accessions Endowment. 2019.3a-b

The HB2 Squirrels were inspired by North Carolina’s House Bill 2, commonly referred to as the “bathroom bill.” HB2 required residents to use the bathroom in public facilities that matched the gender on their birth certificate, launching a national outcry over civil liberties. The bill was criticized for impeding the rights of transgender people and other people in the LGBTQIA+ community who do not identify strictly within the gender binary, and was later repealed by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper.

Artist Michelle Erickson, outraged, took to her potter’s wheel. The result: two salt-glazed stoneware squirrels, grasping the gender symbols—one drenched in the colors of the American flag, the other in the colors of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag. “Congressional acts are temporary,” she says “but art is forever.”

The composition of the squirrels also was crucial. The squirrels face each other, seemingly holding their assigned gender symbols as weapons used to fight one another. The female symbol, a circle with a cross stemming down, is inverted and held by the squirrel to mirror the way the male symbol is held. Erickson said inverting the symbol was a call to uprooting the traditional view of women as a shield. 

The color of the squirrels is also indicative of the message being sent. Both have rainbow colored lines covering their face and body. Erickson said she wanted to use the rainbow motif instead of the colors of the transgender flag, to place a gentle reminder that transgender individuals are included as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The squirrels also have different base bodies. The choice to make one black and one white was a conscious decision to ground it in societal tensions involving race, and to highlight the different viewpoints that stem from race within the LGBTQIA+ community.

When working with a new piece Erickson says she “allows the work to take [her.]” She starts with a design, but as the piece of clay is being shaped, it gradually takes on a new form. The overall product is as much a reflection of the process as it is the original idea.

HB2 Squirrels are a part of the past and present, she says, representing the processes of the Moravian potters, as well as speaking to the heightened political atmosphere surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues, and specifically the HB2 bill that was introduced in North Carolina in 2016. The resulting work of art challenged norms through revitalizing old processes and questioning societal implications.

The idea that became the HB2 Squirrels began as a study of a set of figural bottles from the 18th or 19th century. Erickson says the bottles originally intrigued her due to their lack of clear function and their unique construction. The bottles’ unglazed interior and overall shape indicated that they were made using a cast or mold. During her artist residency  at STARworks, Erickson began using traditional techniques with salt-glazed stoneware to see if she could create a similar design. The original designs of the squirrels were modified to be reflective of the modern era.

Painting of a man smoking a pipe. The man is wearing a trench coat and a matching top hat.

American Art

American Art

  Mint Museum Uptown 

The Mint Museum’s collection of American Art includes paintings, unique works on paper, prints, sculpture, and photographs created from the Colonial Era through the Second World War.

About The Collection

The Mint Museum’s collection of American Art includes paintings, unique works on paper, prints, sculpture, and photographs created from the Colonial Era through the Second World War. Within these chronological boundaries are three areas of strength: Federal portraiture, 19th century landscape painting, and early 20th century realism.

Portraiture was the dominant form of art in America until the middle of the 19th century. The museum’s collection includes portraits by many leading artists of this period, including John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Sully. Their paintings create a window through which to view the personalities, fashions, and cultural values of our ancestors. Featured sitters range from important historical figures to charming young children.

As the 19th century unfolded, landscape painting became increasingly popular. Through the Mint Museum’s collection you can trace the evolution of this genre from the work of the Hudson River School painters such as Thomas Cole and Sanford Gifford, who focused on the natural beauty of our country’s topography, through the rise of Impressionism: a movement whose artists celebrated a more abstract, subjective view of their surroundings.

By the 20th century, a new generation of American artists sought an alternative to Impressionism. These new realists, sometimes known as The Ashcan School focused on everyday life and the common man. The museum holds significant works by many of these artists, including their leader, Robert Henri, and his associates William Glackens, George Bellows, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and Ernest Lawson.

The American Art Collection has relocated for a featured space at the Mint Museum Uptown. In a suite of five galleries, old favorites, new additions, and works not seen for a decade or more will be reinstalled alongside furniture, ceramics, and historic costumes that, experienced as a whole, will provide viewers with a meaningful view into this country’s rich artistic and historical past.

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Craft + Design

Craft + Design

  Mint Museum Uptown 

This collection celebrates moments of artistic and design excellence in the areas of glass, fiber art, metal, studio jewelry, design, studio furniture, wood art, and clay.

About The Collection

The Mint Museum collects international contemporary decorative arts in the areas of glass, fiber art, metal, studio jewelry, design, studio furniture, wood art, and clay. The Craft + Design Collection celebrates exceptional moments of artistic and design excellence. While works range in date from the mid-twentieth century to the present, the museum’s collecting focus is on the twenty-first century. Mint Museum Uptown, which opened in October 2010, offers an incredible opportunity to exhibit more of the museum’s permanent collection with expanded exhibition space. The Mint Museum continues to build a collection of masterworks, produce scholarly publications, and collaborate closely with contemporary artists, keeping the museum at the forefront of the world of contemporary decorative arts.

The craft and design world has seen significant changes since the Mint Museum of Craft + Design opened its doors in 1999. In response to these changes the museum strives to become a forum for dialogues about current issues of concern in the field, such as craft theory, aesthetics, and technology. Forging alliances within Charlotte, North Carolina, nationally, and internationally, the museum is finding new ways to integrate craft and design into the broader conversation about art and society.

For more information on the Mint’s Craft + Design affiliate group visit The Founders Circle information page.

Online Resources

Mint Wiki
Created by The Mint Museum Library Mintwiki provides online information on the special exhibitions and permanent collections of The Mint Museum

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Large rods lay stacked atop one another, seemingly as if they are defying gravity. The piece is located on UNC Charlotte's main campus, behind the Fretwell building.

Mint Around Town

Mint Around Town

Location: Off-Site

The Mint Museum’s collection extends well beyond museum walls. For many decades, the Mint has kept its commitment to sharing its art with the larger community. From the heart of Uptown to the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), the Mint has installed significant works from its collection in public spaces. Click each image for more details.

A grid of an organic pattern akin to tie-dye on top of a blank canvas.

Modern and Contemporary

Modern + Contemporary

  Mint Museum Uptown 

Contemporary Art is the art of our time; art that is recent, new or existing now, or art that reflects diverse societal values, identities, and pertinent issues within the public discourse.

About The Collection

The Modern & Contemporary Art collection consists of works of global significance and vision, representing a perspective that reflects our own diverse and vibrant community. The Mint Museum is committed to building upon a dynamic foundation of paintings, photography, works on paper, artist books, sculptures, installations, and new media (digital, video, and time-based works) that conveys important cultural developments and stylistic innovations and are available for the benefit of all.

Want to see more? Begin exploring and be inspired by The Mint Museum’s permanent collection of American Art.

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A large bowl with the opening being the widest part. It has triangle and checkered designs on the inside as well as the outside.

Native American Art

Native American Art

  Mint Museum Randolph

The Mint Museum’s collection of modern and contemporary Native arts of the Americas showcases works from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, from the nineteenth century to today.

About The Collection

Native peoples throughout the Americas have persevered five hundred years of colonization and persecution since the sixteenth century. Their arts have played a key role in survival, preserving cultural identity and the fundamental principles of society and spirituality that sustain all human civilizations. The Mint Museum’s collection of modern and contemporary Native arts of the Americas showcases works from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, from the nineteenth century to today. They reveal the resilience of human creativity and the artists’ aesthetic responses to Native culture and our modern world. These artworks complement the museum’s comprehensive collection of the art of the ancient Americas, providing the rare opportunity to compare Precolumbian and modern Native expressions in a variety of media.

The Mint Museum’s Native Americas collection was donated by Gretchen and Nelson Grice who began collecting in the late 1980s. They admired the remarkable artistic expressiveness and marvelous craftsmanship of these works in clay, wood, and fiber. Four art forms are featured in the Grice Collection–Native American and Canadian basketry, performance masks from Mexico, Guatemala, the United States and Canada, Maya textiles from Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, and contemporary ceramics from the Southwest and other Native peoples in the United States.

The Maya textile collection features the myriad traditional clothing styles that distinguish the different peoples and towns in southern Mexico and Guatemala. The performance masks, mostly from Mexico, illustrate the variety of dance pageants and their many characters that are essential to contemporary community life. The basket collection includes many early examples of the finest quality such as those from northern California. And the ceramics, primarily from the Southwest, feature pottery styles and artists mostly from New Mexico and Arizona. The Grices visited many of the artists in their workshops, becoming friends and acquiring their works before they became famous. Thus the collection not only presents an extraordinary range of artistic styles but also many early pieces from now-prominent Native artists.

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