Past Study Gallery Installations

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English 124: Contemporary Literature: Narratives of Adolescence and Loss

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Jennifer Ho, Spring 2011

English 124 provides an introduction to contemporary literature by examining novels that focus on adolescence and the theme of loss, such as Hannah Tinti’s The Good Thief, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The novels under consideration explore how adolescent protagonists deal with the grief that results from loss, but also how loss can be a catalyst for positive change.

Students will write about the works of art installed here as part of their final take-home examination. Working in collaboration with Ackland staff, Professor Ho selected art that relates to core themes of each of the novels. Students will use the works of art as occasions for critical thinking, allowing them to identify a point of view that they can then use to explore the themes of the novels from a new perspective.

Robert Colby

Art 155: African Art

Carol Magee, Spring 2011

As an introductory course the goals of the African Art Survey include providing students with a foundation relevant to the study of art: observation skills, familiarity with the visual characteristics of African art and a core group of African art objects, and the written and oral skills to discuss art clearly and effectively.

Ranging in date from 600 BCE to the late-twentieth century, the objects in this gallery suggest something of the breadth of media employed by their makers. The selection was made to demonstrate a variety of ways women in Africa have been represented.

Students in Art 155 will be using this gallery throughout the semester as the focus of multiple class visits and a research assignment. They will choose one of the works in the installation and will think critically about how the work appears in the scholarship of African art, how it functioned in its original social context as well as the context of the museum gallery.

Robert Colby

Religious Studies 138: The Spinoza Project

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Randall Styers, Spring 2010

This Study Gallery is designed as a component of the Spinoza Project, a multidisciplinary program on the UNC campus during the spring semester. Among other events, the Spinoza Project will feature the world premiere of a new musical piece entitled Searching for Spinoza to be presented by UNC Opera from Friday, April 16, through Tuesday, April 20, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium of the FedEx Global Education Center.

In conjunction with the Spinoza Project, a new course is being offered this semester in the Religious Studies Department, “Religious Freedom.” This course examines the development of the concepts of religious liberty and freedom of conscience in Western culture. How did these concepts emerge historically? What social – and religious – forces gave rise to these concepts, and what types of philosophical and theological arguments have been raised both to support these concepts and to oppose or constrain them? What are the appropriate limits to the protection of religious liberty?

Students in the course are exploring how these central social concerns have been conveyed through a variety of media – from philosophy, theology, and social theory, to the visual arts, music, and drama. The images in the Study Gallery have been selected to help students consider how ideas of religion, religious difference and conflict, and the sources and nature of knowledge were mediated through the visual arts during the Early Modern Period, with a particular focus on the Netherlands. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of profound social change in Europe, and through the seventeenth century the Netherlands was a site of important reflection on the notion of religious toleration. Many important social theorists – including Benedict de Spinoza, John Locke, and Pierre Bayle -found refuge there at various points, and a number of highly important philosophical texts advocating religious freedom were written in the Netherlands.

Students in the “Religious Freedom” course are researching and analyzing the images in the Study Gallery in order to consider the various messages conveyed in these images relevant to the themes of the course. Students are writing response papers that bring these images into conversation with our readings from philosophy, theology, and social theory as they explore how these central social values are given shape through different media.

The Spinoza Project Gallery Guide

Environmental Studies 201: Water and Society

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Greg Gangi, Spring 2010

Students from the honors section of fall 2009’s Environment and Society (ENST 201H) chose art from the Ackland to install in the Study Gallery for this spring’s class, Water and Human Rights (ENST 225H). These works reveal the different ways water has been understood and depicted in diverse societies and eras. They devised a paper assignment the current students will undertake.

Assignment: Choose 3-5 of the 10 images on display in the Study Gallery and write a response that connects the image to either class readings or one of the course speakers. Some images might lead you to draw on more than one reading or lecture. While there is no minimum for each response, successful responses will be about one page, with a maximum of 500 words. Consider researching the piece’s historical and social context and including that in your response.

Art 490: Picturing the Civil War: Popular Northern Images of Camp Life and the Battlefield

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Ross Barrett, Spring 2010

This installation includes eight popular images made during and after the Civil War. Organized to accompany the spring 2010 course ART 490: American Art and the Civil War, the installation explores some of the myriad visual languages that northern photographers and printmakers developed in an effort to explain, interpret, and process the newly complex and traumatic form of warfare that unfolded between 1861 and 1865.

Four photographs in the installation (nos. 1 – 4) speak to the problems and possibilities that the still-unwieldy medium of photography presented to the northern artist who confronted the war. Depicting troops readying for battle, corpse-strewn battlegrounds, ruined buildings, and slaves liberated by northern troops, the photographs explore the implications of anticipatory moments preceding battle and the material transformations that followed violent struggle.

Four lithographic images (nos. 5 – 8) suggest the varying ways that northern printmakers interpreted the experience of warfare. Ignoring the strife of the battlefield, three humorous prints from Winslow Homer’s series Campaign Sketches, examine the mundane rituals, fleeting pastimes, and racial hierarchies of camp life among the Union soldiers. A postwar Kurz and Allison lithograph by contrast, renders the horrific aftermath of the 1864 Battle of Fort Pillow – during which confederate troops under the command of Nathaniel Bedford Forrest tortured and killed hundreds of African American prisoners – in sensational detail.

Working in two groups, ART 490 students will prepare presentations that explain the formal possibilities and problems encountered by printmakers and photographers who tackled the war, discuss the historical subjects of the eight images in the installation, and analyze the ways that the eight works interpret the figures and conflicts of the Civil War.