In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art

Opens October 16, 2020
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 artistsGisela 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.

Spencer Finch (American, 1962–). Sunset, South Texas (detail), 6/1/03, 2003, fluorescent lights, filters. Courtesy of the artist.

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.

Jennifer Steinkamp, Daisy Bell, 2008. Video installation. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer.

Suspended in this state of near-but-apart, the works of
In Vivid Color reminds 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.

Peter Halley (American, 1953–). Six Prisons, 2004, acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas. Gift of Ginger Kemp in honor of Mark Richard Leach. 2004.67
T.J. eddy (American, 1945–). Oh Say Do You See, 2008, acrylic on canvas. Museum Purchase: Exchange Funds from the gifts of Dr. and Mrs. Francis Robicsek, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott J. Neal, Charles McMurray, and Mrs. L. L. McMurray. 2008.65. © T.J. Redd Ry
Donald Sultan (American, 1951–). Aqua Poppies Dec 10, 2002, 2002, enamel, flocking, tar, spackle, tile, Masonite. Museum Purchase:  Charlotte Garden Club Fund and Exchange Funds from the Gift of Harry and Mary Dalton. 2003.90A-F. © Donald Sultan, 2002
Julian Stanczak (American, 1928–2017). Summer Inspite of Blue, 1967, acrylic on canvas. Gift of Bruce and Margo Evans. 2001.8. © Julian Stanczak

Interested in learning more?

Visit the In Vivid Color Resources page or the Mintwiki for In Vivid Color. Mintwiki is provided by The Mint Museum Library

In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art is generously sponsored by Wells Fargo Private Bank and the Mint Museum Auxiliary

Wells fargo square logo
Mint Museum Auxiliary logo

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 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.


Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards


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.

Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

“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.

Messages for the City

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.

Airing out the “Dirty” Laundry

Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry

On View at Mint Museum Uptown
Through November 29, 2020

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.

New Days, New Works

On view through January 3, 2021 | Mint Museum Uptown

As we retreated to our homes in the midst of a global pandemic, perspectives changed and new views evolved. The usual became unusual. We saw familiar things with new eyes. New Days, New Works celebrates these renewed perspectives for objects that we surround ourselves with each day and never-before-seen works of art from The Mint Museum’s collections, including a number of gifts from individual and corporate donors.

Decorative subheading: About the Exhibition

More than 80 works of art — including photography and sculptures from international artists, vivid paintings, fashion accessories and stunning ceramics — evoke emotions and a new perspective for a new day.

The exhibition is a juxtaposition of color, material, time and place, from the recently acquired Arco by Puerto Rican artist Cristina Cordova to the strikingly colorful acrylic painting With Side, With Shoulder by Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat to Pilar Albarracín’s Ceiling of Offerings, a large-scale installation made up of hundreds of colorful flamenco dresses that hang from the ceiling.

New Days, New Works is organized by The Mint Museum and kicks off a year-long celebration of gifts in the Mint’s collections — American, contemporary, craft, design and fashion, and decorative arts — that represent the broad diversity of artwork that defines The Mint Museum.

Decorative subheading: Our collectors make it possible

Each object in New Days, New Works celebrates our relationships with individual donors, corporations, foundations and support groups that are all part of The Mint Museum community. We appreciate their generosity and the collection’s presence in our lives, even more after being away for so long.

You are part of our community, too, and we are profoundly grateful that you have joined us today. Welcome back.

Interested in learning more?

[TOP]: Pilar Albarracin (Spanish, 1968–). Ceiling of Offerings, 2004, fabric (flamenco dresses). Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection. 2011.80.1.1-724

Constellation CLT

Constellation CLT logo

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.

de'Angelo DiaBetty and CharlieEpiphany (detail)FrancisInsomnia 4 and FredFrancis (detail)Abena and Kwabena IIIFrancis (detail)EpiphanyCharlieBettyFredInsomnia 4

de’Angelo Dia

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.

Read More

Where to find it

Plaza level:

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.



2nd floor:

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.


3th floor:

Abena, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Kwabena III, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.


4th floor:

Akua, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Irvin, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Previous Installations

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.

Purchase Tickets

Interested in seeing more collections like this? Consider purchasing a ticket today to visit both of our museums.

Not a Mint Member?

Consider becoming a Mint Member.
Get early access to see exhibitions, attend member-only events, and more!

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

Purchase Tickets

Interested in seeing more collections like this? Consider purchasing a ticket today to visit both of our museums.

Not a Mint Member?

Consider becoming a Mint Member.
Get early access to see exhibitions, attend member-only events, and more!
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.