“Lost and Found” Early Bird Winner!

Posted on

photo of a woman wearing a nightgown and looking at herself in a mirror

This Friday, the Ackland opens Lost and Found: Stories for Vernacular Photographs, a special exhibition featuring a story and caption contest.

Ahead of its opening, the Ackland circulated twenty photographs from the exhibition online via our website, social media, and e-news, and asked for creative responses to these images. All part of a public caption and short story contest with prizes available, those creative responses will be on display in the galleries alongside the photographs. Once open, the exhibition will also invite visitors to continue to submit, display, and compete for prizes through January 5.

Submissions have run the gamut from witty remarks to social commentary to delineated responses in the tradition of ekphrasis (the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device). The hope is that these photographs find a new life by stimulating our collective storytelling imagination!

Congratulations to Bill McCormick, the early bird grand prize winner of our story and caption contest for Lost and Found: Stories for Vernacular Photographs! 

Here is his winning submission in response to photo 17 (pictured):


Year One
We moved in, I unpacked a trunk, and there was the mirror. Norbert had put it way down at the bottom under a flatiron. I tried to pick it up, and it shattered right there in my hands. I nearly lost a finger.

Year Two
Norbert twisted his ankle at the grocery store and knocked into a stack of apple juice in glass jars. They said we couldn’t come back until we’d paid for every last one. His shoes stayed sticky until they wore out.

Year Three
The church we went to burned down, but it wasn’t because I was smoking after choir practice.

Year Four
Norbert lost three teeth when a mule kicked him. The mule ran away. It still hasn’t come back.

Year Five
We thought things were looking up because we’d finally paid off the grocery store, my finger was fully healed, and the church had reopened. We went to the first service in the new building, but when we got home, all our furniture was gone.

Year Six
We went to a family reunion at my Aunt Blanche’s, and she had all our furniture. She said we just have similar taste, and that’s definitely not true.

Year Seven
Norbert lost his job, and I agreed to let people take my picture in a see-through nightgown to make ends meet.

Year Eight
We got a new mirror. Our bad luck is over, but I’m not giving up my nightgown modeling gig.


Unidentified artist, American, Woman and Mirror, 1940s, gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (11.4 × 7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.7.