A “Homecoming” for Artist George Nick

Works of art have histories – personal and collective.

AMH_blogpostFeb2014In January, American realist painter George Nick came to the Ackland with our former director, Charles Millard. Nick’s painting, seen with the artist at right, was recently pulled from Ackland storage and installed in the office of the Chancellor. This photograph documents the day when the artist rediscovered his old friend: his own work. It is privilege to hold works in trust for the people of North Carolina, but more than this, it is a rare delight to know that museums also facilitate homecomings, moments with artists are reunited with their works.

Not everyone can claim this particular kind of homecoming when they come to an art museum, but visitors to the Ackland often tell me of their personal relationships with particular works of art. For some it is the Rubens portrait, for other, the Thai Buddha. Some come to see the ancient pots, others the North Carolina pottery. For each, it is a personal homecoming with a public collection. Continue reading

Here, There, and Everywhere

BlogThe last time I was in Paris, I saw more Carolina ball caps than I could count. It reminded me of the global reach of the University’s brand. But maybe more than that, the remarkable way in which human beings like to preserve their experience and even in subtle and small ways – like ball caps – signal to those around them that they have these connections: to place, to higher learning, to personal history. Continue reading

Get Your Eyes Checked: Reflecting on Nam Jun Paik’s “Eagle Eye”

In early September 1964, my parents took me to the eye doctor for the first time. Only a few days before this appointment, I had come home from school completely baffled. With rows of desks and alphabetical seating, the teacher called our names and we took our places. My desk was in the far right back of the room. To begin, we were told to work on the assignment written on the chalkboard. All around me, the other children in the class were pulling paper from their desk, asking if they might sharpen their pencils, and getting down to work. I could not imagine why. There was nothing written on the board. How did they know what to do? I could not see the soft white letters. For me, they did not exist. Continue reading

Felt Time: Gonzalez-Torres and Degas

In a small passageway between galleries in the middle of the Ackland Art Museum, two identical clocks by artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres—placed side by side and touching—hang on the wall just to the left and above the Ackland’s sculpture Spanish Dance by Degas. It is a quiet presentation, but clearly part of the exhibition More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s. I suspect that many visitors do not see it, favoring the larger and more actively engaging installations and art works in the exhibition’s main galleries. Nevertheless, when More Love closes on March 31st, I will miss this installation most of all.

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