Hong-An Truong on panel for CDS Documentary 2015 Origins and Inventions

Nov 20-22, Durham, NC

The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University will host a 25th Anniversary celebration and national forum on November 20–22, 2015, in Durham, North Carolina. Documentary 2015: Origins and Inventions will bring together photographers, filmmakers, podcasters, writers, media professionals, educators, students/alumni, and supporters to view compelling documentary work and to examine central issues in the documentary field, recognizing deep traditions while training an eye on the future.

In addition to panel discussions, presented work, screenings, and special events throughout the weekend, a special CDS 25th Anniversary celebration on Saturday, November 21, will honor photographer John Cohen, poet Natasha Trethewey, filmmaker Samuel D. Pollard, and NPR producers and hosts The Kitchen Sisters. This new tribute goes to artists whose extraordinary contributions create a lasting mark in the documentary field, make an imprint in the world, and deepen our understanding of the human condition.

Friday, Nov 20


Fifty years after the publication of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the seminal documentary work by James Agee and Walker Evans, a newly minted Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University presented a one-day conference on the evolving practice of various forms of documentary work: “To Render a Life or to Change the World?” As the Center for Documentary Studies marks its 25th Anniversary, we take stock of where we started, where we are now, and where we may be heading. In a sea of digital technology, of multiple voices and visions, how do we recognize today what is documentary practice, what is documentary art?


The work of John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), the first performance group in the nation made up principally of homeless people, embodies many of the essential themes and tensions in documentary: collaborative/individual artistic vision, activism/impact, investigation/meditation, credentialed sources/lived expertise, among them. Since 1985, LAPD has made artistic work not only to embrace and foster the powers of people living in the Skid Row area but also to fundamentally change the narrative about people living in poverty. All of John Malpede’s work springs from this vision.

For this presentation, Malpede asks, let’s not assume that empathy changes people or things, or that crafting the good story is the heart of the matter. Malpede will share a number of examples from performances and other interventions that run the gamut from crafted narrative to found object—all of which are examples of changing the narrative. And he will show examples of how the created/found spectrum is a valuable tool for situating work.


In making documentary work, artists draw from traditions and predecessors in the field to inform their creative vision, yet these influences are not always explicit. What are the ties that bind us together in the documentary enterprise? And when we diverge, as individual artists forging new pathways, what unexpected sparks send us in new directions? In this meditation on origins and inventions that illuminate the documentary landscape, we will view selected works and consider the fundamental nature of the documentary impulse and the abiding vision to create.


Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman’s Last Day of Freedom (winner of the Jury Award for Best Short and CDS Filmmaker Award at the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival) is a richly animated personal narrative that tells the story of Bill Babbitt’s decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime, and capital punishment. The film is part of Living Condition, an animated interactive web documentary about families living in extreme circumstances as they grapple with the psychological and emotional trauma of a loved one accused of a capital crime.


*21 and over only


For the past decade, photographer Peter van Agtmael has documented the consequences of America’s wars, at home and abroad, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is drawn through his lens to life’s happenings outside the main frame, to contradictory and dissonant occurrences that require a longer, deeper look. Rather than reports from the battlefield or polemics on the tactics of warfare, his photographs evoke elements of our fundamental humanity; they resonate with unseen meaning, as they entwine a fragmentary narrative into something akin to the richness and mystery of lived experience. For the war photographer, who witnesses life in distant, dangerous lands, there is a certain imperative to illuminate grave truths before they disappear forever.

Saturday, Nov 21


Documentary is rooted in the experiences of real people, the recording of actual occurrences—but does this mean it is not the province of imaginary constructions? Interpretation, invention, memory, and other personal and literary touches infuse fine writing with force. Rootedness in the particulars of place and human connection drives powerful narrative. What “documents” do we take as signposts in our experiences and how do we put them into words to convey some sense of truths in our lives, no matter the form: critical essays, memoir, long-form nonfiction, fiction, poetry?


Photographs capture moments in time, portray juxtapositions in space. Yet what they convey is neither static nor simply literal. Photographs can reveal things we fail to see in our daily lives, even as they comment on what we have lived through; and they can evoke things we cannot see—especially so when a photographer makes images in one place over an extended time, when that place carries connotations of home.



Documentary sources, human or not, make their own demands. What happens when the necessary evidence, the backdrop to a narrative, is missing or is nebulous or is compromised? All filmmakers face challenges with trusting and conveying the essence and integrity (or lack thereof) of their sources. Can any source be trusted completely? What license does the documentary filmmaker have to interpret or cast a source in different lights, for the purposes of a constructed narrative with certain intent? What innovative approaches do these challenges inspire?


The storytelling power of audio—with envisioned characters and imagined scenes—presents rich opportunities for innovative approaches to the digital terrain. From the podcasting boom to new forms of interactive documentary, the capacity of sound, voice, writing, and layered narratives to spark the imagination extends outside the box (radio, tablet, smartphone) to reach people where they are and to inspire engagement, and possibly changes of heart.


Honoring John CohenThe Kitchen SistersSamuel D. Pollard, and Natasha Trethewey
Music by Justin Robinson & Special Guests

To celebrate and to champion the documentary arts, the Center for Documentary Studies is instituting a new tribute to artists whose extraordinary contributions create a lasting mark in the documentary field, make an imprint in the world, and deepen our understanding of the human condition. To inaugurate these annual awards for/with its 25th Anniversary, CDS selected honorees in four categories within the broad sweep of documentary arts that the organization historically has supported: photography, audio, film, and writing.

Seated dinner & dancing | Cocktail attire
Sponsorships & VIP Packages available

New Video featuring MFA Candidate Alyssa Miserendino’s work in the Carolina Collection

Our World Insideout : Four Chapter Houses from Alyssa Miserendino on Vimeo.

This project was funded by:
the North Carolina Documentary Photography Awards at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I attended an undergraduate university, devoid of Greek life. I had my own prejudice against fraternity and sorority groups, stemming from one simple idea: an exclusive group by its very nature is set up to exclude others.

Before I walked into photograph my first chapter house, I asked the bartender if I could order a drink. It was before noon, and by state law, he couldn’t serve me.

I was terribly nervous, and suddenly felt like I was 18 again; unsure of myself, and feeling as if I were an alien.

Was this enough to understand these students, some 15 years younger than I? What I did understand was that I was allowed a privileged position to walk into someone’s private space. I was determined to remain respectful. I wanted to prove my idea wrong. I questioned why these societies existed in the first place. This history is some 165 years old, and specific only to the United States of America.

The majority of what I found was banality – not the imagery we imagine in our head when members binge drink, sing racial chants, rape fellow students, or when a hazing ritual turns deadly. Don’t get me wrong, these are serious issues society members face – but they stem from something more complicated within our American structure. These are the stories we hear that drown out the quietness that allows these students to live together. I don’t know if there is enough banality, but I imagine it’s a nice contrast to the extreme highs these students go through.

School is stressful, and most often students are sleep deprived. Sleep depravation adversely affects the brain and cognitive function – just ask parents of a newborn. These students, in most cases, have just left the confines of their parent’s home after knowing no other way of life. It’s like having too many choices in the grocery store for one type of product, and too tired to make a simple decision.

What was most interesting was the silence in response to reaching out to 30 chapters who lived in communal houses, to participate in this project. I was upfront: I had no desire to photograph what was already headline news. I was interested in the everyday. In the end, only four chapters agreed to participate. A few chapter presidents, who were interested, were handed the decision not to participate, from their national office. One fraternity backed out at the last minute, as the president voiced his concerned with me being in the house every day, for a few hours, over a week’s span.

In the end I had a better appreciation for these communities, as by the very nature of the architecture, programming etc.; the chapters highlighted living together in a community. What I did notice is that some of these students were at a stage of self-actualization – perhaps it was the specific chapters who were participating. However, most of the students I interacted with were the least likely to need these organizations – they came from stable homes. While those who really need a community, cannot afford the dues to participate. At the end of my journey I felt accepted by almost every student I encountered; welcomed when I entered the homes, often by just walking in – yet is was clear in the end – birds of a feather flock together.

Alumna Stacy Lynn Waddell solo show at Visual Arts Center of Richmond

CONTACT: Emily Fox
E-mail: emilyfox@visarts.org

Stacy Lynn Waddell: Epitaph for a Darling Lady opens at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond November 13th

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond is pleased to present Stacy Waddell: Epitaph For A Darling Lady. The exhibition opens with a reception for the artist on Friday, November 13, 2015 from 5:00 – 7:00pm and will be on view in the True F. Luck Gallery through January 8, 2016. The artist will deliver a gallery talk for the public on Thursday, December 3 at 7:00pm.
Epitaph For A Darling Lady presents a large-scale installation of mixed media works created in homage to famed Hollywood actress Butterfly McQueen. Waddell states that the works in the exhibition “spin a well-worn cautionary tale with a surprising and beautiful ending.” Lowery Stokes Simms, recently retired Chief Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC, is writing the catalog essay to accompany the exhibition. An original video documenting Waddell’s studio processes will also accompany the exhibition.
Waddell made repeated trips to Richmond over the past four months to complete an experimental residency with Jason Lefton at Big Secret (Richmond, VA). During that time, the central work was produced for the exhibition that reimagines A Midnight Race On The Mississippi by 19th century American lithographers Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives. The residency provided Waddell with time to learn about and experiment with laser technology as a compliment to her previous studio practice that employed a wide-range of heat-based tools and kitchen sink alchemical processes.

Stacy Lynn Waddell, Goldenhot Butterfly Queen (detail), 2015, gold leaf and watercolor on paper, 96″ x 52″

Regarding the subject of her exhibition, Waddell states, “Sometime back, I discovered a wardrobe still from the set of Gone With The Wind that depicts co-stars Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel. At first glance, this image doesn’t differ much from others of its type, but something about it struck me in a personal regard. In the photograph, Butterfly McQueen stands to the left of her more experienced co-star who dominates the image for several reasons, not the least of which being her unflinchingly direct gaze at the viewer. McQueen’s stance, however, presents an altogether different point of view of a young woman looking beyond her present station to contemplate what’s ahead. Butterfly McQueen was an iconoclast, but a reluctant one. Despite the prevailing cultural and social force field that dictated much of her lived experience, she persisted in reimagining a life of nuance and free-range possibilities, but the quest for freedom often comes at a cost.”

Since 2007, Stacy Lynn Waddell’s work has been recognized and exhibited nationally. Waddell has participated in exhibitions at The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro, NC, The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, Project Row Houses in Houston, TX, The Studio Museum in Harlem in NY, On Stellar Rays in NY and at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, MA among other venues. Her work is included in several public and private collections that include The Nasher Museum of Art (Durham, NC), the Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro, NC), The North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC), The Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, SC) and The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York). Waddell is a 2010 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and a 2012 recipient of an Art Matters Grant. She currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC.

Exhibitions at the Visual Arts Center are supported by a grant from Altria Group, Inc.

Gallery Hours are M-F: 9am-9pm, Sat: 10am – 4:00pm, Sun.1pm-4pm

Image 1: Stacy Lynn Waddell, A Midnight Race Between A Butterfly And An Eclipse, 2015, laser burned paper, 88″ x 150″
Image 2: Stacy Lynn Waddell, Goldenhot Butterfly Queen (detail), 2015, gold leaf and watercolor on paper, 96″ x 52″
Photographs by Christoper Ciccone

Alumnus George Jenne solo show at Freight+Volume

Saturday, November 7 – Sunday, December 6, 2015
Opening Reception: November 7, 2015 – 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Freight+Volume is pleased to present QUIETLY, KAREN BLACK, an exhibition of new videos and printed material by George Jenne. Jenne (b.  1973, Richmond, Virginia) is interested in language, cinematic structure, and the intersection where the two meet and create an alternate syntax. His narrative videos combine imagery and storytelling, supplemented with prints, resulting in an installation expanding, criss-crossing, and exploring the plot even further.

The tile of the exhibition, QUIETLY, KAREN BLACK, references Jenne’s longstanding love and fascination with horror films. The exhibition features half a dozen film and video works, including “The Last 200 Feet (roll 1),” which was filmed on the last available 200-foot-rolls of a Kodak motion picture stock that sat abandoned in a Reno, Nevada warehouse until Jenne acquired them. Because of this film stock’s rarity, Jenne states “each roll suggests a unique capability of counting time” and uses his narratives to address aspects of time such as the linearity of film-time and the length of the actual strip of film.

The video “Million Dollar Movie” serves as the source for the lithography prints that will accompany the films. These prints are not stills from the video, but instead images created specifically to expand the film’s story beyond the physical time and space of the installation. Jenne used labor-intensive, traditional offset printing techniques that contrast with the ephemerality of video as a medium.

Another video from the exhibition, “The Gong Farmer,” is an experiment in arranging narrative images. The video reconsiders the Hollywood text scroll, informed by Jenne’s background in movies. In the video, a scroll unveils a written narrative, subverted at the end when the roll is revealed as a common role of toilet paper. As the story evolves, the viewer’s focus is shifted between the mind’s efforts to realize the narrative as a set of concrete images versus what is actually read on the screen.

George Jenne / The Last 200 Feet (roll 1) / 35 mm film still / Running time: 2 min. 48 sec. / 2015

George Jenne / The Last 200 Feet (roll 1) / 35 mm film still / Running time: 2 min. 48 sec. / 2015

There are three primary concepts to QUIETLY, KAREN BLACK:

1.    Cinematic language can be leavened with literary and sculptural language so that a latent image will surface where these disparate mediums converge.

2.    Most things that we see as polar opposites, when scrutinized, turn out to be closer to each other than we think.

3.    Every gesture in each piece is beholden to the story that it is trying to tell.

As Jenne explains, I have a stinging admiration for the language of stories. But my affection takes the unlikely form of a moving image that supplants cinematic structure, paired with words used with loving irreverence toward the sentence that they inhabit. Apply this to a narrative video, and a story cannibalizes itself then regurgitates something fresh.

Jenne’s background as a movie prop-maker, including as an employee of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in Hollywood, informs his relationship to materials in which “cheap plastic is paramount” and “the faker, the better.” He continued to work as a movie prop-maker in New York while exhibiting at spaces in Manhattan and Brooklyn such as Exit Art, P.S.122, Jack the Pelican Presents and more. He has also exhibited at the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, NC, the Nasher Museum at Duke Univeristy, NC, Civilian Art Projects in Washington, DC, and many more. He has been a Creative Capital award finalist and was shortlisted for the Gibbes Museum 1858 Prize, and has done residencies in Provincetown, MA with the Fine Arts Work Center and the DNA Summer Artist Residency program, as well as most recently at the Art OMI residency in Ghent, NY and the Elsewhere Residency in Greensboro, NC. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and has served as adjunct faculty in the film, animation, and video department. He currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Please join us for a reception with the artist on November 7, 2015 from 6-9pm @ 97 Allen Street. Refreshments will be served. For more information please contact nick@freightandvolume.com

Emerita Professor Mary Sturgeon sharing from her new book at the Bull’s Head Bookshop

Mary Sturgeon, professor emerita of Classical Art at UNC-CH, will be at Bull’s Head Bookshop on Wednesday, November 18th at 3:30pm to share from her new book Ancient Mediterranean Art in the Ackland Art Museum.

Ancient Mediterranean Art in the Ackland Art Museum presents the collection of ancient art in the Ackland Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This collection includes a broad array of works of art that come from many parts of the ancient Mediterranean world, including Egypt and the Nile Valley, Mesopotamia, Iran, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, ranging in date from ca. 5000 BCE to 1100 CE. The collection contains large- and small-scale sculptures made of marble, bronze, terracotta, limestone, and gold and vessels formed of clay, stone, and bronze. Notable groups of objects include Egyptian amulets made of faience, Near Eastern cylinder seals, Cypriot votive statuary of limestone, Greek and Roman coins, and Roman vessels of glass.

Started in 1958, the collection has grown considerably and now includes objects discovered through official excavations in Egypt and the Nile valley and Italy, along with gifts of former faculty members and friends of the University and Museum. From its beginning, the collection was intended to be diverse in scope and was founded to bring to Chapel Hill works of art that would directly support the teaching mission of the university. This volume showcases a significant and valuable collection as never before.

The University of North Carolina Press: $100.00

Mary C. Sturgeon is Professor Emerita of Classical Art and adjunct Professor Emerita of Classics and Archaeology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Past chair of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, she is the author of many works, including Corinth IX, iii, Sculpture: The Assemblage from the Theater (2004).

Bull’s Head Bookshop is located in UNC Student Stores on the campus of UNC-CH. All events at Bull’s Head are free and open to the public. Call 919-962-5060 for more details. Or see the facebook event here.

Alumna Georgia Titcomb is Greenhill Gallery’s Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week
Georgia Titcomb, Neural Melt (6), 2014, photograph, 16 x 42 inches, $300
Contact Erin Riggins for more information
Georgia Titcomb is one of the six artists featured in Microcosm.  She began her exploration of combining science and art as a double major (biology and art) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a Biology major, she became fascinated with the layers of life existing at a microscopic scale. She grounds her artworks in a biological topic that then researches and seeks answers to questions using both a scientific and an artistic language.
Stay abreast of art on display at Greenhill with our Pick of the Week where you can look forward to seeing new works selected by Greenhill staff with pieces from The GalleryInFocus Gallery and The Shop. Or, follow us on Instagram.

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Greenhill receives generous support from

Departmental News Roundup for October 2015

Art History ABD Kim Bobier is in New York as a Helena Rubenstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. She spent the summer in Chicago supported by research grants from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium and UNC’s Institute of African American Research.

Associate Professor John Bowles was recently a Visiting Scholar in the Harn Eminent Scholar in Art History Lecture Series, School of Art and Art History, University of Florida.