Zoom: The Ackland’s New Graphic Identity

The Ackland Art Museum has a mission: to become the pre-eminent public university art museum. We believe this is an eminently possible goal to attain. We aim to engage everyone in the community and beyond, serving UNC students, staff, faculty, and alumni through teaching and research. We have an encyclopedic collection of over 19,000 works of art, the support of one of the nation’s top public universities, and a local community that is deeply engaged with the arts.

On October 5, 2019, we took a major step toward our goal by unveiling a new graphic identity. Our new look, Zoom, is strong and declarative. It changes focus, challenges the expected, and exudes motion and energy. Our signature color, Ackland Fuchsia, is vibrant and unique. Our logo asserts itself boldly and dynamically on print and digital media, and is sometimes even animated (see the animation on our new lobby screen!). The Ackland “A” curves gently at the top, echoing the archway over our front door.

We were honored to have so many of our patrons join us for the October 5 Zoom In! event. Now, we look forward sharing our new look with the rest of our many community supporters. You’ll see it in the Ackland’s lobby and on our print and digital media from here on out, and we will launch a new website in January, 2020.  Thank you for seeing us through 60 years of growth, and we can’t want to share all that’s next with you!


Ackland Director Katie Ziglar Discusses Recent Acquisitions of Islamic Art

The Ackland recently acquired seven new works of Islamic art. Since the Museum’s director, Katie Ziglar (UNC ’79), is an expert in Islamic art and architecture, we asked her about the new acquisitions.



Why is this collection of objects so important to the Ackland?

The Ackland, as a “mini-encyclopedic” museum, has breadth and depth in many areas.  It is not, however, complete.  We are strategically adding to our Islamic art collection in order to more fully tell the story of the 9th to 18th centuries.  Included in our selection are objects from the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, and India.  These acquisitions strengthen our capacity to teach a part of art history that is often overlooked. One of the first things visitors will learn is that Islamic art is breathtakingly beautiful.


Tell us about your personal connection to Islamic art.

I took my first course in Islamic art here at Carolina with visiting Columbia University art history professor Jerrilyn Dodds.  As a European History major, I had not yet been exposed to the interplay between Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. Professor Dodds’ course grabbed my attention in a way that forever changed my life.

Two years later, I enrolled in the MA program in Islamic art and architecture at the American University in Cairo where I wrote my thesis on Fatimid lusterware of Egypt and Syria in the 10th to the 12th centuries.


There is a range of media here. Is that typical of Islamic art?

Good question!  Islamic art is expressed in a number of media, not unlike medieval Christian art.  The calligraphy that makes copying the Qur’an possible is the most important form of Islamic art; after that, there is basically no medium that is more or less important than any other. Painting, metal, textiles, ceramic, wood, glass, ivory and bone and architectural elements are all considered equally important.


Recent Acquisitions of Islamic Art will be on view in Gallery 2 until February 2, 2020. Click here to learn more. 


Photo of Katie Ziglar by Jeyhoun Allebaugh, UNC-Chapel Hill

Unidentified artist, Safavid, Iranian, 16th century, Alam, steel, 22 5/8 x 13 in. (57.5 x 33 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gift of the William E. Shipp Estate, by exchange, 2019.31.2.

Artists Jason Woodberry and Marcus Kiser talk about “Project LHAXX”

A mural of imagined Afrofuturist hieroglyphics and neon symbols inspired by the artists’ cultural traditions floats against a stark black background. Alongside, a monitor depicts spaceship schematics inspired by the forms of ceremonial masks found in the Dogon culture of West Africa. The artists unlock Project LHAXX’s “cosmic message” for viewers through content accessed via a free augmented reality application. The resulting immersive experience invites us to consider both the forces in society that allow for the absence and erasure of Black cultural histories and also ways in which those losses may be mitigated.

Project LHAXX takes its inspiration from Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951), a young African-American tobacco farmer who sought treatment for cervical cancer at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. Unknown to Lacks, who eventually succumbed to her disease, her cells were saved and studied by researchers, who found that her cells were the first “immortal” cell line that could reproduce indefinitely. They were utilized in countless research applications, being especially noted for helping to develop the polio vaccine. Lacks’ story feeds into Intergalactic Soul’s larger Afrofuturist goal: using history to imagine a future with black people actively involved and respected.

We talked to artists Marcus Kiser and Jason Woodberry about their new installation.

What are the sources of inspiration for Project LHAXX?

JW: LHAXX has a couple of inspirations that contributed to its creation.  One is that African Americans are one of the only groups of people in America without a native language. This bothered me in a way. By using information from my ancestry, I created a text that acts as a “what if?” encased in an Afrofuturistic theme.

Another is Henrietta Lacks, whose last name inspired the title. I just felt the XX was a cool aesthetic; you see it used a lot in old 80s and 90s sci-fi movies and video games referring to the future. Her story is one that everyone should know about and I hope our narrative will help bring awareness to who she is and what all her family has been through.

The color selection — black and gold — was inspired by the antagonist of Marvel’s Black Panther, Eric Killmonger.

What is Intergalactic Soul?

JW: Intergalactic Soul is an ongoing collection of multimedia, Afrofuturistic art that focuses on social and political issues surrounding black bodies. The narrative centers around two young black astronauts by the name of Pluto and Astro who travel throughout the universe and are confronted with a number of issues and evils, represented metaphorically through characters and scenarios.

Talk about what Afrofuturism and outer space mean to you.

MK: Afrofuturism for us revolves around the idea of black people and black spaces in the future. This idea of black futures that stems from oppression and racial ideologies of the past. Our work speaks for a future that acknowledges lost voices, underserved and forgotten people. Space represents untapped freedom and an unknown feeling of blissfulness, he religious ideologies of Heaven(s), or the infinite.

What can visitors to the Ackland expect at your 2nd Friday ArtWalk event on September 13 at 6PM?

JW: Great music and great conversation.  We aim for art talks to be more like conversation amongst the people in the room. We will talk about everything from 80s cartoons, to video games, to comics, all while addressing things that are happening in our communities and how art plays a huge part in the narrative of it all. Q and the Soul Providers never disappoint. An Afrofuturistic Jazz/Soul freestyle fusion, littered with clever punchlines and spoken word, all inspired by the art of Intergalactic Soul. It won’t be like any other ArtWalk they’ve been to.

Project LHAXX is on view at the Ackland through June, 2020.

Image credit: Image of Project LHAXX courtesy of Marcus Kiser.