MEDIUM Workshop with Jonah Bokaer

Carolina Performing Arts Mellon DisTIL (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) Fellow, Tunisian-American dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer will be on campus next week and is hosting a free workshop for the UNC community. This is a movement-based workshops broadly focused on identity exploration and introducing mind+body awareness into academic spaces.

Date and Time: Friday, November 15th from 3-5 PM
Location: Ackland Art Museum, ART& Space (101 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27599)

You are welcome to join for as little or long as you’d like! This workshop is intended to bring each of us an increased awareness of our own mind+body as we progress through academia and continue developing our sense of self.

RSVP: If you are interested in joining, please fill out this RSVP form to confirm your attendance.

More details on the workshop:

Jonah Bokaer and collaborators designed a free series of Workshops for UNC Students, Faculty, Staff, and Community Members who wish to improve “everyday performance” skills, including physical awareness, public speaking, performance lectures, and “whole self awareness” for Academics, Artists, and Administrators alike. The workshops are free, accessible, and with no prior performance history required.

Built from a project uplifting Middle Eastern and North African identity in the world of the performing arts, M.E.D.I.U.M. will take place over a series of five weeks in the 2019-2020 Academic year, will be hosted by Jonah Bokaer and his collaborator, dancer Hala Shah, at various locations across UNC’s campus. 

To learn more about Bokaer’s DisTIL Fellowship:

A secondary component of the free workshops is to enhance diversity in performance and identity exploration at UNC Chapel Hill, within a safe space, open to all racial, ethnic, gender, intellectual, and sexual identities. The workshops were developed over 1 year of dialogue on campus, including several community gatherings at the Center for Middle East Studies, and with experts in Sociology.

The event is designed to be easily accessible, positive — and transformational. Street clothing as-is, and footwear as-is, shall be fine.

Music in the Galleries: Mozart on the Moon/Astronauts at the Ackland: UNC Opera Preview Performances


Mozart on the Moon/Astronauts at the Ackland: UNC Opera Preview Performances

Saturdays, Oct 26 and Nov 2 | 2-4 PM

Free and open to the public; no RSVP needed

Join us for a pair of lively open rehearsals/preview performances featuring the cast of UNC Opera as they prepare for the premiere of their retro-futuristic, outer-space adaptation of Mozart’s Il Sogno di Scipio (Scipio’s Dream; Nov 16 & 17, 2019). The curtain will be pulled back for Ackland audiences to see how UNC Opera has combined Mozart’s music with experimental set, prop, and choreographic design in this Ackland Course Grant-winning production.

For more information about UNC Opera’s Il Sogna di Scipio, click here:

Week of Welcome: Ackland Student Guide Tours

Welcome to Carolina!

Meet in the lobby for a 30-minute, guided tour of the Ackland Art Museum’s collection led by an Ackland Student Guide. Tours will be offered every 15 minutes starting at 4:30 pm.

Louise Bourgeois’s Crouching Spider: Do Not Touch or Climb Talk

Hosted by Arts Everywhere, join fellow students and community members in a lively discussion about contemporary artist Louise Bourgeois and her work at the Ackland Art Museum.

Can a meme be a way of engaging with a work of art? Can a meme describe how and what we see around us, both individually and collectively? How does such description differ from traditional ways of interacting with art in and outside of a museum? How does the location of a work of art (outside rather than inside) condition or liberate the viewer’s interaction with it?

The installation of artist Louise Bourgeois’s Crouching Spider and Eye Benches I on UNC’s campus inspired a variety of responses. Louise Bourgeois was a hugely influential contemporary artist, and Crouching Spider manifests some of the major themes of her work. We’ll be giving some background on Bourgeois and her art, but also facilitating an open discussion of some of the dank spider memes generated by UNC undergrads. These productions comment on collective emotional and intellectual experiences of the art, compare it to other structures on campus, and draw out some of the political implications of public art. This event will also include a walk over to Crouching Spider, where the Ackland Art Museum’s Object-Based Teaching Fellow, Alexandra Zeigler, will lead us in an exercise in close looking, encouraging us to deepen and critically examine our responses to the sculpture and its context.

Free, no registration required. Light refreshments will be served.

Meet the Staff: Debbie Pulley

Debbie Pulley is the Ackland Art Museum’s Security Supervisor.

How long have you been at the Ackland?
I started at the Ackland in August 1990.

What brought you to the Ackland?
I had been working for Northern Telecom Security for about six years, and I wanted to do something different in the security field. I applied for both a detention officer job at the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and a position with UNC Security at the Ackland Art Museum. Both offered me a job, and my husband said I should take the UNC Security position. I’m so happy I did!

What do you do at the Ackland?
As the Security Supervisor, I’m on-call 24 hours. I’m responsible for training the security staff, protecting the Ackland’s collection, and assisting the visitors. I also train the Museum’s work study gallery assistants, make sure operating policies and procedures are implemented and followed by all personnel at all times, and monitor the Museum’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.

What is a memorable Ackland experience?
In August of 1990, the Museum staff was moving back into the building following a three-year closure for renovations. On December 2, 1990, I got to see the reopening party for the newly redesigned Ackland Art Museum. Then-director Charles Millard and Chancellor Paul Hardin were on-hand to receive ‘Welcome Back’ posters from children as we opened the doors (see photo). What an evening!

What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
Seeing our growing collection. I also love working with university and K-12 students, as well as meeting visitors from all over the world.

SEE. MORE. ART.: What is your favorite arts experience in the Triangle?
I love DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center).

Editor’s Note: Debbie Pulley was chosen as the UNC Department of Public Safety’s 2016 Employee of the Year. UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken presented Pulley with the recognition at the department’s annual awards ceremony Friday, June 17, 2016.  Pulley—who was also recognized for 25 years of service to the agency—was cited for the fresh passion she brings to her job every day as well as for leading by example and her kindness to her team, museum staff, and visitors to the Ackland.

Remembering Dr. Mary Sheriff

The staff of the Ackland Art Museum mourns the loss of one of our long-time UNC-Chapel Hill colleagues, Dr. Mary Sheriff, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History in the Art Department, who passed away 19 October 2016.

Dr. Sheriff was internationally renowned for her research in the fields of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century French art and culture, particularly in the areas of creativity, sexuality, gender, and, more recently, travel and cultural exchange. In all these areas, and in her capacity as chair of the Art Department, Mary was a treasured friend of the Ackland, engaged in advising on acquisitions, interpreting exhibitions, and encouraging her many advanced students to take advantage of professional development opportunities at the Museum. She avidly used the Museum’s collection in her undergraduate and graduate classes, firmly believing in the importance of object-driven teaching and research. For many years, she served on the Ackland’s Academic Advisory Committee. For several decades, the Ackland’s exhibition program has been enriched by projects undertaken with her forceful guidance by her graduate students, just as many works of French art owe their place in the collection to her advocacy, enthusiasm, and expertise.

Carolyn Allmendinger, the Ackland’s director of academic programs and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s PhD program in Art, recalled how much fun it was to get a few minutes with Mary in front of an interesting work of art in the galleries. “It was always clear that in addition to the depth of understanding she had about all the literature, all the contextual issues, that she just truly enjoyed the pleasures of looking closely at eighteenth-century art.”

Peter Nisbet, deputy director for curatorial affairs, praised Mary Sheriff’s passionate belief in the ways in which the Ackland could bolster the efforts to create and maintain a first-rate department of art history at UNC-Chapel Hill, covering as broad a range as possible of the world’s visual art traditions. “Mary could be counted on to hold the Ackland to the same high standards she applied to herself and her students,” Nisbet recalled. “We have lost a great champion for serious engagement with art and an energetic partner in our enterprise.”

Ackland Art Museum director Katie Ziglar noted that, although she had arrived too recently to get to know Mary, her effect on the Ackland was easy to spot. “We pledge to continue on her path of creative cooperation with our Art Department colleagues,” Ziglar affirmed. “I speak for all of us at the Ackland in sending our deepest condolences to her husband Keith and all her family and friends following this terrible loss.”

Meet the Staff: Carolyn Allmendinger

CAllmendingerCAROLYN ALLMENDINGER is the Ackland’s Director of Academic Programs.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

I started working at the Ackland in fall 1999.

What brought you to the Ackland?

I had just finished graduate school in art history and was trying to figure out what kind of career I wanted to pursue (some people do that before they finish school; others change their mind a few times). There was a part-time position available as an editor for the Ackland’s catalogue of European drawings. I got that position and quickly discovered I wanted a career working in an art museum. As the editing work began to wind down, another position opened – teaching university classes from various academic disciplines with art objects in the galleries. Once I started doing that, I was completely hooked. Continue reading

The Study Gallery – A Window onto Teaching and Research

Portions of this essay were originally published in the Ackland’s Member E-Newsletter of 13 August 2015.

MelancoliaThe start of a new academic year is always invigorating, and my thoughts are on the return of our Study Gallery on the second floor, one of the Ackland’s extraordinary programs. Over the course of the academic year, the Study Gallery will contain 36 short-term small exhibitions that accompany curricular teaching happening all across this wonderful University (six new installations reinstalled every six weeks).

There are always surprises in store here—from little-seen works to unconventional juxtapositions. You can see a socio-critical image by contemporary photographer Danny Lyon next to Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece print Melancolia (part of the installation supporting a course on “Abnormal Psychology”). Also on view in the Gallery are nineteenth-century photographs of Turkish subjects (amongst the works for a course on “Gender in the Middle East”), a captivating ancient Egyptian cat amulet—surely, at only 1 centimeter tall, one of the smallest works in the Ackland collection (one of about two dozen works on display for “Egyptian Archaeology”)—and many other interesting pieces of art. Continue reading

Charlie Millard: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts

millard_charles_15_018Originally published in the Ackland’s Member E-Newsletter of 21 May 2015.

Of all the awards that a university can bestow, few are greater than the honorary degree. Everyone in the Ackland family is therefore justifiably proud of former director Charlie Millard. He was awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at this year’s Spring Commencement. Charlie’s professional and scholarly achievements are manifold, you can read the official citation here, but I want to highlight two ways that he improved the Ackland in decisive and long-lasting ways during his directorship (1986-1993). Continue reading

Kehinde Wiley and Glenn Ligon at the Ackland

In conjunction with Dr. John Bowles’ ARTH 287 and ARTH 387 classes, six works by contemporary African-American artists are on view now through Sunday, May 10th, in the Study Gallery on the second floor of the Ackland. Perhaps the most eye-popping in its resoluteness and arresting color is Idrissa Ndiaye, a study in oil on paper by Kehinde Wiley.

WileyUndoubtedly, Wiley is having a cultural moment: the 37-year-old artist is enjoying his first retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, and numerous examples of his work can be spotted on the set of Fox’s breakout new show “Empire.” Figurative, dramatic, and bombastically colorful, his art has all the necessary ingredients to be readily accessible to modern audiences.

Yet despite its immediate vivacity, below the surface Wiley’s art is deeply confrontational. He deals directly with stereotypical conceptions of African and African-American identity, both in modern culture and the history of art. His works usually follow a similar formula: a black figure, dressed in modern street clothes, stands heroically against a sumptuously decorative background. The figure gazes directly down at the viewer with an air of impassiveness and regality as baroque ornamentation swirls around him. Continue reading