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Alumnus Peter Hoffman named Graduate Fellow for Useful Fictions Symposium and Exhibition

August 13, 2019

Useful Fictions is a week-long symposium and a public participatory art project in Paris. It is a platform to embrace complex problems by modeling radical openness to research in which tools, laboratories, studios are shared between artists and scientists to expand concepts for ecological thinking. Useful Fictions proposes to see the calculation of a catastrophic future not as an inevitability but as an invitation to innovate and effect change. Bridging the divide between urgency and agency, the project gathers a coalition of artists, designers, humanists, and graduate students to work with globally acclaimed climate scientists in their laboratories to build future machines and write absurd fictions.

This project invites critique of the human-centered narrative that dominates and defines contemporary cultural consciousness. The issues we are faced with challenge us to reclaim knowledge creation by examining the idea of proxy and measurements in ways that will expand anthropocentric lenses. Through the use of both critical discourse and practice-based research in art, design, and science, as well as case studies in climate science and related contextual research, we will ask: “What controls the manufacturing of our systems of belief? What stories do we tell ourselves? Can we imagine differently?”

Chosen from a competitive selection process based on an International Open Call, graduate fellows will participate in the symposium and the Speed of Light Expedition. Each Graduate Fellow will receive one week of full room and board at École polytechnique, Paris, from September 9-13, 2019. All lab fees and material expenses are also covered under the Fellowship. We are pleased to see that the fellows are from a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, sciences, and engineering. 

Peter Hoffman
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA

Considering the failures and limits of the documentary photograph in translating climate change narratives, Peter Gabriel Hoffman is informed by environmental communication theories and eco-critical texts that emphasize the necessity of collapsing the human/nature binary way of thinking. He is interested in how creating new representations of landscape and ecological systems may play a role in perpetuating this dialogue. He holds MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in Documentary Photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. Hoffman lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife Liz.

Alumna Sydney Steen named NCAC Creative Economies Coordinator

August 12, 2019

Sydney Steen was named Creative Economies Coordinator of the N.C. Arts Council on May 1. She previously served as the Arts in Communities Coordinator for the agency, and while she will continue to provide support to Grassroots Arts partners, her duties are being expanded to include the N.C. Arts Council’s public art and SmART communities program. Sydney will oversee the state’s public art collection and manage the artist selection process for all the SmART communities in N.C. She will also work with each SmART partner to track the economic impact of the SmART program across the state. Sydney received her Master’s in Fine Art in painting and sculpture from UNC-Chapel Hill.

MFA Alumna Maria Britton Solo Show at My Room

July 17, 2019
Soft Storage, solo show of work by MFA 2007 Maria Britton, at My Room, Attic 506 in Chapel Hill through August
Soft Storage

Working free from square painting supports and utilizing bed sheets as her primary surface, Britton makes work that spans painting, sculpture, and textiles. With the works included in Soft Storage, Britton ruminates on the strength and vitality found in emotionally complex and ephemeral qualities typically associated with the feminine. Britton’s works are influenced by clothing construction, bodily orifices, curtains, windows, sails, and portals. Understanding the functional language of fabric allows Britton to utilize its strength and flexibility. Fabric’s grid becomes a guiding compass of sorts.

My work explores notions of femininity and feminism, high and low forms of art making, and dreams and disasters. Using combinations of painting and sewing, I modify and disrupt the familiar floral surfaces of used patterned bed sheets, which I have been incorporating into my work for over decade. The surface of a bed is a place where one both experiences and escapes reality, a gateway between two realms. Dated patterns act as windows for peering into specific times and places from the past. Like skin, fabric retains a physical memory of experiences; it wrinkles from habitual behaviors and environmental conditions. Over time memories change by expanding, fading, transforming, or disappearing.

I work impulsively and intuitively, responding to the patterns and colors before me while also referencing fragmented floral imagery that I either remember or imagine. To define gestural forms, I use bias tape or paint to delineate the break between positive and negative space. Flowers and cyclical elements from nature, especially decay, inform how I work. The fragile quality of wilted and dried flowers is something that I often attempt to replicate.

Alumna Vanessa Murray Solo Exhibition at Golden Belt Durham

July 2, 2019

Night Swim
Vanessa Murray (MFA 2017)

The Durham Art Guild
June 26 – July 24th
Golden Belt Campus
800 Taylor St. Durham

3rd Friday Reception:
July 19th, 6-9 pm
Artist Talk at 6:30

Night swim explores the psychological vulnerability that is felt when we place our self under the dark sky and in the presence of the unknown. Both paintings and sculptures explore a quiet push and pull between exposure and concealment, concave and convex, darkness and light.

Morrison Art Studio Opening a Success!

October 17, 2018

Fulfilling Chancellor Folt’s expansive vision for the arts, and in partnership with our wonderful colleagues in Arts Everywhere and Carolina Housing, we hatched our pilot “intramural” arts studio last week. Thank you so much for the various ways you have supported the Morrison Art Studio so far. We have heard incredible excitement from the UNC community regarding the 24/7 access and the no-cost supplies, and only anticipate those numbers to continue growing.

Over the course of the past week alone, we:

  • welcomed nearly 500 unique students and campus community members to the studio for a visit;
  • signed up nearly 350 unique students and campus community members to our studio listserv;
  • led 14 group orientation sessions;
  • trained and provided 24/7 access through Housing to 160 students and campus community members!!
  • and we are busy planning more sessions and gatherings to continue to bring this opportunity to more and more students and campus community members.

Approximately half of those who have been oriented live in Morrison dorm, with additional usage by students living in most South Campus dorms.

Thanks again to Assistant Professor Lien Truong and Department Chair Carol Magee in Art and Art History, to Allan Blattner and his entire team in Carolina Housing, and to UNC facilities for their leadership, efforts, and enthusiasm. The Morrison Art Studio is the perfect example of strategic partnership at work.

Please feel free to stop by.  We are continuing the studio’s “open door” policy over the next week.  The studio will be during the staffed hours below either by our Artist-in-Residence, first-year MFA studio art student Natalie Strait or two work-study students hired by the Art and Art History department who will be serving as Assistant Studio Managers. Their names are Eden Teichman and Meghan Mcguire, sophomore and first-year students respectively who are already doing a wonderful job of giving orientations and learning the ropes of studio management!

Monday 4 – 9 pm

Tuesday 5:30 – 10 pm

Wednesday 5:30 – 10 pm

Thursday 5:30 – 10 pm

Huge thanks to Haley Smyser who singlehandedly managed the launch event with grace and skill!

Compound Fractures from Alumnus Ben Alper and Faculty Joy Drury Cox Now Available

October 10, 2018


Over the last 3 years, Joy and Ben have been working on a collaborative project entitled Compound Fractures.  The photographs collected in this book were made in various ‘show caves’ around the southeastern United States.  Also referred to as ‘tourist caves’, these spaces exist at the intersection of commerce and ecology.  However, what began more explicitly as an exploration of our tenuous relationship to nature, gave way to a broader interest in the spatial strangeness and symbolic potential of these subterranean landscapes.

You can read more about the book, as well as pick up a copy, at the link below.

Compound Fractures 
Ben Alper & Joy Drury Cox
Flat Space Studio, 2018
74 pages, 62 color images
Softcover, perfect bound
11 x 8.5 in. (27.94 x 21.59 cm.)
Edition of 100
$30 (+ shipping)

Studio Update from Joy Drury Cox

October 10, 2018

Joy Drury Cox / Fall 2018 Exhibitions & Updates

Hard Places
October 5 – November 10, 2018
Ejecta Projects
Carlisle, PA

Opening Reception: October 5, 5 – 8pm
Meet the Artists & Reception: October 27, 5 – 8pm

Ejecta Projects Hours: Thursday – Friday, 3-7 pm; Saturday, noon – 7pm

The title of this exhibition, Hard Places, is at once a slightly tongue-in-cheek nod to the expression “between a rock and a hard place,” but also a more literal affirmation of the solidity of the surfaces photographed during travels to the Pacific Northwest. The artists, Joy Drury Cox and Ben Alper, acknowledge that in a very overt way, the title describes the challenges of photographing landscapes of great beauty and grandeur within the limitations of a camera’s singular lens. With a long history of majestic landscape paintings and photographs in mind, the artists also reframe seemingly sublime wildernesses within the context of tourism and present-day environmental changes. The photographs on display in Ejecta Projects simultaneously resist and respond to these pictorial precedents. While some photographs offer glimpses onto expansive vistas of woods, wildflowers, and the sea, other spaces—densely woven tree roots, rough rock faces, and dizzying plains of gravel – appear curiously flattened, constrained, and abstracted.

Compound Fractures
Forthcoming book with Ben Alper

In early 2018, Ben and I completed a collaborative project photographing in tourist caves in the Southeastern United States. Our project was featured in the August Issue of PDN Magazine in an article by Jon Feinstein. Check it out here.

In the next coming weeks, we will be releasing a self-published limited edition artist book of this project through Flat Space Studio. Please be in touch if you would like me to reserve a copy for you.

Born Under a Bad Sign
October 5 – 26, 2018
The Neon Heater
Findlay, OH

Opening Reception: October 5, 5 – 8pm

Featuring work by:
Andy Dailey
Anna Paola Guerra
April Bachtel
Gregg Evans
Joy Drury Cox
Taha Ahmad

This exhibition is part of the Neon Heater’s 7th year of programming, 30 shows between September 2018 and May 2019, called The Temperature, in which the Neon Heater is taking the temperature of the art world and the socio-political climate. The 30 exhibitions of the Temperature are connected by a narrative through-line, and each month has its own theme which progressively builds the narrative. October’s theme is Cast of Characters and introduces the characters into the world that was created in September’s The Setting.

Born Under a Bad Sign is an exhibition that explores, both generally and symbolically, a generation born into a world in transition. A world that has already been discovered, a world in which the previous generations worked so hard to “build” and gift to their children, while ironically robbing them of their potential to create their own lives. A generation so overwhelmed with their full access to the world (via globalization and the internet) that they are unable to find a place in it. A generation seeking to be seen.

Anti- Nostalgia
October 4 – 21, 2018
The Carrack
Durham, NC

Opening Reception: October 5, 7 – 9:30pm

Curated by:
Olivia Huntley and elin o’Hara slavick

Desire has no history. – Susan Sontag

Anti-Nostalgia is a group exhibition of artists invited to create works utilizing found photographs. Artists explore: our relationship to the photograph as an object; memories and sentimentality; history and the familial; the vernacular and the archive; and alternative and interventionist narratives. A photograph provides both a historical and unattainable reality. Anti-Nostalgia investigates how our attraction to and/or repulsion by found photographs does not come from nostalgia, but comes from a desire to confirm, deny and transform a reality. Theorists argue that nostalgia can be a form of fascism – a longing for a glorified past that leads us down an authoritarian path. Anti-Nostalgia is a topical and critical approach to our current global situation, an attempt to draw attention to the way we read, feel, understand and use imagery in the name of ideology and personal whim.

and the light followed the flight of sound
published by One Day Projects

One Day Projects is pleased to release their third collaborative book, “And light followed the flight of sound.” Inspired by both the natural wonder and symbolic possibilities of the 2017 solar eclipse, the book features photographs by 52 artists and is presented as a 30-foot-long, hand-bound accordion with an enclosed saddle-stitched zine and essay. Edited, designed and produced by Jared Ragland and Eliot Dudik, the limited edition book is printed on digital offset, covered in a foil-stamped cloth, and comes housed in a clear Mylar sleeve, also foil stamped. As the book is removed from its sleeve, the foil stamps mimic the passage of the moon in front of the sun. Despite a wide variation of styles, approaches, and locations, the photographs in “And light followed the flight of sound” remind us of our commonality, advance a vision of community regained, and reveal the transcendent power of science and citizenship, activism and art, beauty and imagination. To see and purchase, visit

Just closing…

Seeing the Weave: Textile based abstraction from the Piedmont
September 7 – October 5, 2018
Smith Gallery
Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University

Featuring works by:
Maria Britton
Martha Clippinger
Joy Drury Cox
Julia Gartrell
Kayla Anderson
Jennifer Schmidt

The Smith Gallery will host “Seeing the Weave: Textile-based Abstraction from the Piedmont,” a group show featuring diverse works — from painting, quilts, weavings and textile to sculpture and video — that use textile design, history and construction to engage with the legacies of artistic abstraction. The exhibition and related programs are free and open to the public.

In the last twenty years, there has been a global upsurge in contemporary art making based in textile materials, designs and histories. This exhibition provides a survey of some of the ways that North Carolina artists have contributed to expanding this field in new directions. It focuses on work from the Piedmont region, which is both a dense center of artistic production in the state and an area rich with craft and industrial textile history. The artists represented integrate textiles into a wide variety of forms and make frequent use of techniques associated with textile construction, including piecing, sewing, weaving and knotting their works together. They experiment boldly with color, pattern and the tactile qualities of fabric, and they interrogate both the cultural meanings associated with their materials and the legacy of textile-based abstraction, which has its roots in the early twentieth century.

Alumnus Frank Faulkner has passed away

September 20, 2018

Born in Sumter, South Carolina in 1946, Frank Faulkner received his B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina in 1968, Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.F.A. from the same institution in 1972. Faulkner’s work quickly won him numerous grants and awards, including an individual artist grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1974. He was selected for the Whitney Biennial in 1975, which prompted him to settle in New York.

More details will be added when they are received . . .

Alumnus Ray Kass presenting his work at the Gregg Museum at NC State

September 20, 2018

Ray Kass, MFA 1969, has curated this upcoming exhibition at NC State

Curator presentation: Ray Kass
Thursday, September 20 at 6pm
Gregg Museum of Art & Design

Ray Kass, professor emeritus of art at Virginia Tech, is the founder and director of the Mountain Lake Workshop, and curator of the Rural Avant-Garde exhibition at the Gregg Museum. He will speak about the exhibition, and the NC State Dance Program will display a painting made during a STEPS workshop with NC State students the previous day. STEPS is a performance created by John Cage and influenced by Merce Cunningham. Free.

Learn more about the Rural Avant-Garde exhibition >