October 16, 2020-February 28, 2021
Mint Museum Uptown
To celebrate Mint Museum Uptown’s tenth anniversary, In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art brings together four innovative contemporary artists—Gisela Colon, Spencer Finch, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Summer Wheat—who create works celebrating the power of color and its transformative ability to permeate the space around us. Their work is juxtaposed with a selection of paintings and works on paper drawn primarily from The Mint Museum’s permanent collection that explore artists’ exploration of color in more traditional ways.
The exhibition uses color as an opportunity to investigate how people perceive a non-fixed reality: the ever-shifting environment in which we must discern the real from the illusionary. The installations by Wheat, Finch, Colon, and Steinkamp are highly experiential, creating an environment that will engage each viewer uniquely, determined by the personal nature of color perception. Despite this subjective element, audiences experience the immersive installations simultaneously, fostering a sense of communion: we are united while remaining apart. This dichotomy replicates the sensation many feel as the COVID-19 pandemic requires much of our human contact to be mediated by technology, the media used by Colon, Finch, and Steinkamp.
Suspended in this state of near-but-apart, the works of
In Vivid Color remind us of the community in which we all belong, to which we all contribute.
Summer Wheat’s Foragers spans four stories and 3,720 square feet in Mint Museum Uptown’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium. A myriad of vibrant panels give the illusion of stained glass, and fills the atrium’s 96 windows and weave a story of the people and workforce that have made Charlotte a thriving metropolis.
In contrast to the grand scale of the initial four installations, the 11 paintings and works on paper in the adjacent gallery allow for more intimate considerations of color’s potency. Whether abstract or figurative, each composition allows for different investigations into how color intersects with the work’s subject and meaning, in addition to affecting the viewer’s space even when confined to a two-dimensional patch of wall.
In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art is generously sponsored by Wells Fargo Private Bank and the Mint Museum Auxiliary
Additional generous individual support provided by Mary Anne (M.A.) Rogers, Ann and Michael Tarwater, and Mozelle DePass Griffith in loving memory of Edward Colville Griffith, Jr.
Special thanks to Bank of America for loans of art for the presentation of this Mint-organized show.
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.
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.
On View through September 6, 2022
Mint Museum Uptown
Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat’s Foragers is a monumental work of art spanning four stories and 3,720 square feet in Mint Museum Uptown’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium. A myriad of vibrant panels that give the illusion of stained glass fill the atrium’s 96 windows and weave a story of women who labor to build the communities that form the spine of modern society.
“In so many ways, Foragers is a monumental tribute to all those anonymous female makers and laborers who have made North Carolina the place that it is today: the Catawba clay workers, the Cherokee basket makers, the enslaved and freed African-American fishers and farmers, the countless woodworkers, weavers, and quilters,” says Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, the Mint’s chief curator and curator of contemporary art.
Foragers is part of a larger exhibition, In Vivid Color, opening Oct. 16, 2020, that brings together contemporary artists Summer Wheat, Gisela Colon, Spencer Finch, and Jennifer Steinkamp who create works celebrating the power of color. Their work is juxtaposed with a selection of paintings and works on paper, drawn primarily from The Mint Museum’s permanent collection, which showcase artists’ more traditional exploration of color.
While standard admission rates apply to the museum’s Level 3 and Level 4 galleries, access to Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium and the Foragers installation is free.
Foragers is generously presented by Wells Fargo Private Bank
with additional individual support from Laura and Mike Grace, María-José Mage and Frank Müller, Kati and Chris Small, Rocky and Curtis Trenkelbach.
The Mint is partnering with the Bechtler, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, and the Levine Museum of the New South to unroll a joint project known as Interactive CLT that brings augmented reality into museum galleries.
With support from the Arts & Science Council, AVO Insights have created an app that allows visitors to the museum the opportunity to see videos about select pieces in the galleries. After opening the app, hover your phone over the indicated works of art, and a video about the art appears. Senior Curator of American Art Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, and Community Relations Director Rubie Britt-Height lead visitors thorough the galleries to highlight works of art that speak to racial justice and the experience of being black in America.
by Leo Twiggs
by Augusta Savage
by Barbara Pennington
by Beverly McIver
Philip the Fair
by Kehinde Wiley
Messages for the City
Throughout the fall of 2020, The Mint Museum will present Messages for the City, artist-made images and animations that recognize and celebrate the work of frontline and essential workers during the COVID pandemic, on the Wells Fargo screen located on the Levine Center for the Arts. An array of five images for five minutes will play every hour on the hour, with each image or animation playing for 55 seconds, followed by the artist’s credit.
This project originated with Times Square Arts, a New York City agency that commissions and presents work primarily in Times Square. Messages for the City began in April 2020. With collaborators Poster House, PRINT magazine, and For Freedoms, Times Square Arts launched a public art campaign of public service announcements and messages of gratitude in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, Times Square Arts explains: “The public art initiative began with a sense of urgency to express solidarity and gratitude to the city’s most vulnerable workers, and it continues as a way to honor their work and acknowledge the myriad of challenges still facing us through both pandemic and protest.” The Mint Museum is proud to extend the reach of these messages to Charlotte. Here, too, we are seeing our neighbors and fellow citizens with new appreciation.
Over three dozen artists participated in this original campaign; The Mint Museum will present 17 in the Charlotte iteration. They include from For Freedoms: Paula Crown, Nekisha Durrett, Alixa Garcia, G.O.N.G./Mel Chin, Jenny Holzer, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Pedro Reyes, Duke Riley, Christine Sun Kim, Carrie Mae Weems, and Christine Wong Yap; and from Poster House: Pablo Delcan, Joe Hollier, Maira Kalman, Richard McGuire, Gemma O’Brien, and Klaas Verplancke.
Constellation CLT is designed to connect visitors of The Mint Museum with the universe of talent in the local community.
In its second year, Constellation CLT is an exhibition series designed to connect visitors to The Mint Museum with artists in our community and to activate the public spaces of the museum. The installations rotate three times per year and can be seen in four places at Mint Museum Uptown: in the entrance; at the foot of the atrium escalator; and on the landings of the Mezzanine and 4th levels.
Constellation CLT is generously supported by The Arts & Science Council.
Installation is on view now
The characters in Dia’s work explore different expressions and elements of African-American culture, without explicitly referencing any one African tradition. The intention, Dia explains, is to recognize the hybrid nature of the culture those from the African diaspora must create in their new lands.
Where to find it
Ira, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Kwasi, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Yaa, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Betty, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Charlie, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Francis, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Epiphany, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Insomnia 4, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Fred, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Abena, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Kwabena III, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Akua, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Irvin, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
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.
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.
Mint Around Town
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.
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.