In Vulnerability: Selected Works by the MFA Class of 2020

April 24, 2020 - May 17, 2020

A gold colored hook holds up a cement block by an attached bunch of blonde hair

As University officials continue to monitor the evolving situation related to COVID-19, and to promote the safety of our visitors and staff, the decision has been made out of an abundance of caution to cancel this exhibition.

In Vulnerability explores the impacts of bodies and environments on one another. This concern is articulated through works by five artists who interrogate the ways humanity shapes and is shaped by forces as disparate as the gaze, infrastructure, and our planet. These tensions aid in the artists’ efforts to address concerns including illness, gentrification, and climate change. This exhibition presents vulnerability — too often perceived as weakness — instead as an essential component of our agency and collective survival. Participating artists are the five UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2020 Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art candidates: Cassidy Kulhanek, Sally Ann McKinsey, Chloé Rager, Natalie Strait, and Emily Hobgood Thomas.

Guest curator Saba Taj is a visual artist based in Durham, North Carolina, and a 2016 graduate from the MFA program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Currently, Taj is the 2019-20 Post-MFA Fellow in the Documentary Arts, as part of the Documentary Diversity Project at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. She is the former Director of The Carrack Modern Art.


Digital Exhibition Content

Because we were not able to present In Vulnerability in the galleries, we have tried to provide a glimpse at what everyone worked together to create through these online materials. Please join us in celebrating these graduating MFA students!


Blog Posts

Ackland curator Lauren Turner writes about how the Ackland came together to provide this digital content, and In Vulnerability guest curator Saba Taj shares her thoughts about the students’ work.

Read the Blog


Proposed Gallery Layouts

Nothing can replace the experience of visiting an exhibition in person. Since we were not able to install this show, we want to offer a sense of what might have been. Nathan Marzen, our head of exhibition design and installation, shows us a virtual walk-through of the proposed gallery layouts created by using the same modeling software that he employs to imagine every exhibition at the Museum.


Artist Interviews

In the coming weeks, we will be uploading recorded zoom interviews with some of the MFA graduates to give visitors a chance to hear their voices directly. View the recordings on our YouTube playlist, and sign up for our e-news to be notified when new videos are published.

View the Recordings

Representative Works

Blonde Winch
Chloé Rager, 2019
Chloé Rager, American, born 1994, Blonde Winch (detail), 2019, concrete, brass-plated chain, and hair, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist.
3300 Arendell St III
Emily Hobgood Thomas, 2020
Emily Hobgood Thomas, American, born 1995, 3300 Arendell St III (detail), from the Transient Places series, 2020, collage. Collection of the artist.
320 NC Highway 58 II
Emily Hobgood Thomas, 2020
Emily Hobgood Thomas, American, born 1995, 320 NC Highway 58 II, from the Transient Places series, 2020, photograph. Collection of the artist.
Plastic Planet Properties
Cassidy Kulhanek, 2020
Cassidy Kulhanek, American, born 1993, Plastic Planet Properties, 2020, website. Collection of the artist.
Family Recipes: Macaroni
Sally Ann McKinsey, 2020
Sally Ann McKinsey, American, born 1988, Family Recipes: Macaroni, from planned Code Blue installation, 2020, video, 4 minutes, 32 seconds. Collection of the artist.
lonely weekend
Natalie Strait, 2018
Natalie Strait, American, born 1997, lonely weekend (detail), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 48 in. (132.1 x 121.9 cm). Collection of the artist.
rosé all day
Natalie Strait, 2018
Natalie Strait, American, born 1997, rosé all day (detail), 2018, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 in. (152.4 x 114.3 cm). Collection of the artist.
daylight savings is a bitch
Natalie Strait, 2019
Natalie Strait, American, born 1997, daylight savings is a bitch (detail), 2019, oil on canvas, 36 x 24 in. (91.4 x 61.0 cm). Collection of the artist.