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MFA Alumnus Michael J Bramwell appointed curator at Boston MFA

June 8, 2022

Michael Bramwell

Congratulations to MFA alumnus Michael J. Bramwell, who was recently appointed as the inaugural Linde Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston! The creation of the new position is part of an initiative designed to reanimate and reimagine the MFA’s storied folk-art collection for 21st-century audiences, supported by longtime trustee Joyce Linde. Collaborating with fellow curators in the Art of the Americas Department and colleagues across the Museum, Bramwell will develop innovative exhibitions, collection displays and public programs—envisioning new ways to make folk and self-taught art accessible, relevant, and important to the lives of visitors. He will begin his new role on June 1.

Bramwell’s scholarship and research has explored the visual and material culture of the African diaspora in the American South from the 19th through the 20th centuries. He currently serves as Visiting Guest Curator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he is organizing the exhibition House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B. Bramwell has collaborated on exhibitions, workshops and visiting critic engagements with the North Carolina Museum of Art, MoMA PS1, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Maryland Institute College of Art. He has been awarded two Andrew W. Mellon Humanities for the Public Good Fellowships for his work at MESDA and the Ackland Art Museum. Bramwell is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his dissertation is focused on resistance in the art of enslaved potter David Drake. As a visual artist, Bramwell has been featured in a wide range of solo and group exhibitions, including at the MoMA P.S.1, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Jack Tilton Gallery. His work can be found in the collections of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the New School University, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, among many others. He holds an M.F.A. from UNC Chapel Hill, an M.A. in special education from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Bramwell’s work is supported by the Joan Mitchell, Andrew W. Mellon, and Pollock-Krasner foundations.
“As a practicing artist and academically-trained art historian, Michael Bramwell brings a distinct perspective to folk and self-taught art. His commitment to telling new stories and reaching beyond the canon promises to reenergize the display and interpretation of this material at the MFA. It is an honor to welcome Michael to Boston,” said Ethan Lasser, John Moors Cabot Chair, Art of the Americas.

The MFA has long collected folk art—broadly defined—in many genres, with notable strength in works made in the northeastern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include important paintings by Erastus Salisbury Field, William Matthew Prior and Rufus Porter, nearly 350 works on paper from the Karolik Collection, a significant collection of American quilts, and select examples of painted furniture and sculptural forms. The new Folk Art Initiative positions the MFA as a global leader in reinvigorating and rethinking a body of material that challenges narrow definitions of “what is art” and “who is an artist’—and creates space for the greater inclusion of voices, narratives and histories, offering a unique point of access and invitation to visitors. A cross-departmental team, which included curators, conservators and staff members from the Learning and Community Engagement division, developed a strategic framework for the Folk Art Initiative to evolve and unfold over the next several years. This collaborative process laid the groundwork for the MFA’s 2021 exhibition Collecting Stories: The Invention of Folk Art (generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation), which explored the history and evolution of the term “folk art” by reconsidering works on paper and sculpture from the Karolik Collection.

With support for exhibitions, programs and interpretation, the Linde Curator will have the platform to galvanize colleagues across the Museum to think anew about folk art in the Americas and across the globe, and explore new ways to make the collection accessible, relevant and important to the lives of visitors today. Through the Folk Art Initiative, the MFA will place folk and self-taught art in dialogue with other art forms across disciplines—particularly contemporary art—integrate folk art into existing learning programs, and invite members of the Museum’s teen programs and community partners to offer fresh perspectives on interpretation and the stories told in the galleries.

PhD Candidate Erin Dickey receives CASVA Twenty-Four Month Chester Dale Fellowship

May 16, 2022

The Department is thrilled to announce the award of a CASVA Twenty-Four Month Chester Dale Fellowship to our doctoral student Erin Dickey. This prestigious fellowship provides funding for a year of independent research and a second year in residence at the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Erin’s dissertation on the convergence of networked technologies and feminist art in the 1980s, focusing on the under-studied artists Judy Malloy (1942-), Nancy Paterson (1957-2018), and Karen O’Rourke (1951-) whose works probe the political and aesthetic processes underlying the “information age,” is supervised by Professor Cary Levine.

Congratulations Erin!

PhD Candidate Emily DuVall receives 2022-2023 Wilson Library Fellowship

April 22, 2022

Congratulations to Emily DuVall, who has received the 2022-2023 Hanes Graduate Fellowship (Rare Book Collection Fellowship) through Wilson Library at UNC Libraries. Her dissertation project is “Power and Possession: The French Conceptualization of Royal Space during the Reign of François I.” 

Opening Thursday at the Ackland: Myth and Memory, Selected Works by the MFA Class of 2022

April 19, 2022

In Myth & Memory, five artists interrogate practices of history-making and history-keeping at the individual, institutional, and systemic level. Beginning with personal narrative, each artist engages a vocabulary of fantasy to make visible that which has been forgotten, obscured, or erased by white heteropatriarchal modes of dominance. Through intimate gestures and acts of subversion, they reframe the lens through which memory is archived to tell new stories from a restructured past. Their work imagines potential futures in which marginalized bodies are not under siege.

Participating artists are the five UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2022 Master of Fine Arts in studio art candidates: Raj BunnagCharlie DupeeHugo LjungbäckPhượng Duyên Hải Nguyễn, and Stella Rosalie RosenMyth & Memory is curated by Laura Ritchie ’10 (BFA), a curator, arts administrator, and cultural worker in Durham; she is a founder and former executive director of The Carrack.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Maryanna & Will Johnson and The Seymour & Carol Levin Foundation.

EXHIBITION-RELATED PUBLIC PROGRAMS

Thursday, April 21, 7-8:30 p.m.
Opening Reception for Myth & Memory
Free and open to the public.

Saturday, April 23, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Animation Workshop with Stella Rosalie Rosen
Free; All Ages.

Saturday, April 23, 1-2 p.m.
Guided Tour of Myth & Memory
Led by all five MFA Candidates, with an Introduction by Exhibition Curator Laura Ritchie
Free.

Friday, May 13, 6-7:30 p.m., during the 2nd Friday ArtWalk
Print-Making Demonstration with Raj Bunnag
Free, All-Ages.

Every year the Ackland presents works by the Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts candidates in an exhibition selected by changing guest curators. The artists will also be displaying their thesis projects at other locations in the Triangle on the following schedule:

Phượng Duyên Hải Nguyễn and Hugo Ljungbäck at Anchorlight from April 9 to 30, 2022, with an opening reception from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, and a gallery talk from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.

Raj Bunnag, Charlie Dupee, and Stella Rosalie Rosen at LUMP from April 15 to May 22, 2022, with a gallery talk and screenings on the evening of First Friday, May 6.


Image credit: Phượng Duyên Hải Nguyễn, Vietnamese-American, born 1992, Nowhen, 2022, cotton threads, 64 x 45 inches. Lent by the artist.

In Memoriam: Emeritus Professor of Studio Art Dennis Zaborowski

April 18, 2022

Dennis Zaborowski, artist and retired UNC at Chapel Hill Department of Art and Art History professor, passed away on April 9th. He was 79 years old.

Professor Zaborowski was born in 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Garfield Heights with his mother, Stephanie, father, Michael, and brother, Michael. He attended St. Stanislaus High School in the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland. He was a Boy Scout in his youth where he cultivated an appreciation for nature.

From 1961 to 1965, Professor Zaborowski was a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He then attended Yale University starting in 1965, earning his BFA and MFA in 1968. In the fall of 1968, he began his tenure as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until retiring in 2015. His courses included life drawing, painting, and design.

During Professor Zaborowski’s career as an artist and painter, his work was shown nationally and internationally. Notable solo shows include the Mint Museum of American Art in Charlotte, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, Duke and Davidson Universities, and the West Broadway Gallery in New York City. His work is included in several permanent collections, including the Mint Museum and North Carolina Museum of Art. He received two National Endowment for the Arts grants during his lifetime.

He continued to engage in painting up until the end of his life, painting in his home and with other local artists.

He is survived by his two children, Daphne and Conrad and his brother, Michael (Barbara) Zabor. He will be fondly remembered for his creative spirit, kindness, and inimitable sense of humor.

A memorial service will be held at The Chapel of the Cross in the historic chapel on April 21st at 1 p.m. The service will be followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. Dress will be casual and colorful clothing is welcome.

Obituary originally published in the News and Observer, April 17, 2022

Visiting faculty and alumni featured in upcoming OCAC show Home?

March 24, 2022

Visiting faculty member Renzo Ortega, MFA alumni Allison Tierney and Jonh Blanco, and friend-of-the-department Bob Goldstein are all featured in this upcoming group show from the Orange County Arts Commission.


The Orange County Arts Commission, in partnership with the Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development present HOME? An Artistic Exploration of Housing in the Triangle, which seeks to showcase “home” through the eyes and words of working artists.

The exhibit features 100 works of art by 54 Triangle-based artists and will be on view through April, 2022 at the Eno Mill Gallery in Hillsborough. 

The public is invited to a free Opening Party on Friday, April 1, from 6-9pm featuring:

About the Exhibit

In the Triangle, artists are considered to be fundamental to the quality of life and unique character of our communities, but they are one of the most impacted groups of rising costs of living, especially housing. To highlight this issue, the Orange County Arts Commission and Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development asked visual and literary artists living in Orange, Durham, Wake, and Chatham counties to respond to the following questions through visual and written works:

  • What does the idea or experience of “home” mean to you?
  • What has your experience of “home” been as an artist and person living in the Triangle?
  • Is “home” a place of comfort, safety, and warmth, or something else?
  • Is “home” positive, negative, or something in between?

Sixty-four visual artists submitted 148 works of art; 26 writers submitted 52 written works. Submissions were juried by panels of visual and literary artists. Works by 54 visual artists were selected for the exhibit and 16 writers were selected to read their submissions aloud during the opening event on Friday, April 1. 

Twenty percent of proceeds from work sold will be used to create an Emergency Housing Fund for artists in partnership with the Department of Housing.