Popular Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman Exhibition Extended to February 26!

The Mint Museum Randolph is announcing that its Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman exhibition has been extended another two months.

Due to its popularity and widespread public acclaim, The Mint Museum Randolph is announcing that its Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman exhibition has been extended another two months, keeping it on view to museum patrons until February 26, 2012.

The exhibition presents the iconic haute couture designs of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and includes works on public view for the first time. Sponsored by U.S Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, the exhibition opened May 21.

“The overwhelmingly positive public response to this exhibition has been gratifying,” said Charles L. Mo, Director of Fine Arts. “We are pleased to be able to give visitors more time to appreciate this landmark collection from a legendary designer.”

Among the major designers who shaped the landscape of women’s fashion in the 20th century, Coco Chanel (1883-1971) remains a pivotal figure. She pioneered a new look for women in the early 1900s, creating clothes that were primarily comfortable, yet lasting in both their construction and style. Replacing the restrictive corset with casual elegance, her fashion repertoire included simple suits and dresses, women’s trousers, costume jewelry, and perfume.

Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman includes works dating from the 1920s to the present, augmented by a selection of accessories, sketches, and other fashion-related materials. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Mint’s Historic Costume & Fashionable Dress collection.

Highlights include a sampling of early designs, from a suit that was produced circa 1925-1929 and is noted to be an ensemble constructed by Coco Chanel herself, to the seminal “little black dress,” which the designer popularized among women everywhere. Accessories such as handbags, eyeglasses, shoes, and perfume demonstrate the myriad of designs produced by the label within its first century of existence.

Born in France, Chanel endured a rocky childhood and first learned to sew in an orphanage during her teens. It was during a brief stint as a singer in cafés and concert halls that she adopted the name Coco. With the help of a wealthy male companion, Chanel launched her first business venture – a millinery shop – in Paris in 1910, followed by boutiques in Deauville and Biarritz. During the 1920s, she became the first designer to use knit jersey (an inexpensive material traditionally used for men’s underwear) to construct women’s clothing, creating relaxed, menswear-inspired garments that rejected the stiff, corseted look of the time. Her innovative, uncluttered designs led her to become one of the premier fashion designers in Paris.

In 1925, Chanel introduced her now legendary suit, featuring a collarless jacket and fitted skirt. She matched its success the following year with her little black dress, both of which continue to be staples in every Chanel collection. In 1926, American Vogue compared Chanel’s little black dress to the Ford automobile. The designer helped pioneer the floating evening scarf, as well as the practice of wearing faux and real jewels together. She used colorful, feminine, printed chiffons in her daywear designs, while evening ensembles incorporated tulle, lace, and decorative elements that softened the overall look of the garment.

Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1971 at the age of 88. Her fashions and accessories – including her iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume – earned her a place on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman is made possible with generous support from U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. Media sponsor: Our State Magazine.

Elizabeth Turk Wins 2010 MacArthur Award

Sculptor was in residence at McColl Center for Visual Art and exhibited at The Mint Museum in Charlotte

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named Elizabeth Turk, an artist with ties to the Charlotte cultural community, as one of 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2010. Turk, a sculptor known for transforming marble into intricate, seemingly weightless works of art, was a 2003 Artist-in-Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art and presented her first solo museum exhibition VantagePoint III – Elizabeth Turk: The Collarsat The Mint Museum in 2004. Turk was recently in Charlotte to deliver Collar 21 to the Mint for presentation within the contemporary art galleries in the new Mint Museum Uptown, opening 1 October 2010.

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of a MacArthur Fellowship than Elizabeth,” said Carla Hanzal, Curator of Contemporary Art at The Mint Museum. “Her ability to manipulate marble into such exquisite forms defies the medium’s rigid qualities and is nothing short of extraordinary. We are proud to share her impressive artwork with the public.”

“Elizabeth has a quiet, thoughtful, yet powerful sensibility,” said Suzanne Fetscher, President of McColl Center for Visual Art. “Her time with us was spent developing the concepts and execution for the “Collars.” At the time, she called our Center a “candy store” where artists can explore materials, tools and relationships with other artists and the community, which is our reason for being. It is wonderful to see our partnership with the Mint Museum reflected in this amazing recognition for Elizabeth.”

While her past artistic projects have involved works in metal, glass, and porcelain, as well as drawings, photography, and video, Turk has focused on marble in her major series of works. Inspired by the challenges the hard stone poses for an artist interested in rendering nature’s most delicate forms, she has achieved an extremely fine level of detail in an often-unforgiving substance. Employing a variety of electric grinders, files, and small dental tools with a dexterous touch, her technical virtuosity is on full display in “The Collars,” a series of sixteen painstakingly carved sculptures that explore a rich variety of organic and geometric patterns. The elaborate collars in this collection combine allusions to decorative motifs and the self-organizing systems of the natural world, drawing from lace-making and Elizabethan fashion as well as botanical, skeletal, and architectural structures. Continuing the theme of fragile, textile-like compositions with the strength and heft of stone, Turk creates a surprising sense of buoyancy and undulating movement in her recent series of marble ribbons suspended in midair. With these and other visually arresting feats of precision, Turk is pushing the physical limits of her material and reviving a classical medium for contemporary artistic exploration.

Turk will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support from the MacArthur Foundation over the next five years. All Fellows were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.

Scene in America Explores Black Male Identity through Contemporary Art

The groundbreaking exhibition Scene in America: A Contemporary Look at the Black Male Image explores how artists address race and identity when using images of Black males in their work.

On view at the Mint Museum of Art from April 19 to November 2, 2008, the exhibition features works from the collections of The Mint Museum, the Van Every/Smith Gallery of Davidson College, and private collectors and artists.

“Scene in America undoubtedly marks an important cultural event for Charlotte and the region,” said Dr. Jae Emerling, Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  “By addressing the ways in which Black males have been represented in contemporary art, the exhibition offers viewers the opportunity to contemplate a series of complex issues ranging from the continued effects of racial stereotypes to the importance of extended families in the African American experience.”

The exhibition investigates shifts in power—from usurpation to attainment—found in contemporary portrayals of black masculinity. The South’s painful past of persecution and stereotyping is a recurring topic explored by the exhibition’s artists. Conversely, images of activism, family and community, and a positive and resilient identity hint at overcoming the societal obstacles left by the legacy of slavery.

Elizabeth Catlett invokes these positive attributes in her loving sculpture Family, while her lithograph To Marry portrays a couple sharing a kiss over the contradictory image of a lynched man, suggesting that the memory of past brutalities is present even in moments of intimacy. Similarly, Benjamin “Old Folks” Davis’ woodwork, Black Men Pledge Unity, shows that activism in great numbers can overcome many barriers.

Other works in the exhibit provide positive alternatives to past stereotypes. Chuck Close’s Lyle, a portrait of contemporary artist Lyle Ashton Harris, is created from many colors and forms, perhaps suggesting the complexity and beauty of Harris’s identity. Tommie Robinson incorporates an image of Charlotte’s Public Library into the background of his portrait titled Product, suggesting that one can achieve a positive self-identity through education, achievement and embracing an African heritage.

Many contemporary artists have found the history and persistence of racial stereotypes to be a compelling source of subject matter for their work. Robert Mapplethorpe’s Untitled #1, portrays model Ken Moody as physically beautiful: an object of desire striking a classical pose. Mapplethorpe acknowledges the stereotype of the black male as a physically powerful being, and seems to celebrate this quality rather than casting him as a figure to be feared.  Photographer Larry Fink’s Black Hand, Checkered Rump depicts a black man with a white female companion at a high society function, and asks viewers to consider his or her own views on mixed-race relationships and the cultural bias that often accompanies them.

Other prominent artists featured in Scene in America include Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Camille Billops, Samella Lewis, John Hairston, Jr., Antoine “RAW” Williams, Juan Logan, Willie Little and John Biggers.

“This is not simply a show about race; rather, it is a promising example of how art instigates discussions, raises questions, and forms communities of viewers,” said Emerling. “With this exhibition, The Mint Museum has taken another important step in promoting not only contemporary art, but cultural diversity as well.”

The exhibition was curated by Kimberly Thomas under the direction of Carla Hanzal, curator of Contemporary Art. Curatorial and library staff have created a blog linked to the Museum’s Web site to encourage dialogue about this exhibition and the important themes it investigates.

Possibilities: Rising Stars of Contemporary Craft in North Carolina

Showcasing the work of six young North Carolina studio craft artists, Possibilities: Rising Stars of Contemporary Craft in North Carolinaillustrates the vitality and diversity present among a new generation of artists.

The exhibition features works by Vivian Beer (metal), Devin Burgess (glass), Cristina Cordóva (ceramics), Anne Lemanski (paper), Brent Skidmore (furniture) and Jerilyn Virden (ceramics), all of whom are creating extraordinary and distinctive work that is quickly gaining national attention.

Selected for the quality of their work, the exhibition’s artists visually and conceptually represent the dynamic future of craft in our region. “If you choose a work from a rising star, you make an investment in the future – yours and theirs,” says Rob Williams, consulting curator of Craft + Design. The works featured in Possibilities explore sculptural forms, high design, humor, politics and the confrontation of cultures.

Possibilities includes evocative ceramic works from artists Cristina Cordóva and Jerilyn Virden. Cordóva creates work that captures both personal and universal confrontations of cultures experienced by Latin American immigrants, while Virden’s sandblasted clay forms bridge the gap between the vessel and modernist sculpture.

Vivian Beer’s sculptural metal forms that function as seating complement Brent Skidmore’s functional furniture with “Stone Age” influences. Contributing paper pieces to the exhibition, Anne Lemanski’s three-dimensional constructions of animal forms feature politically charged images on hand-painted and appropriated paper fragments. Finally, Devin Burgess will present groupings of blown glass that showcase the sophistication of high design.