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Faculty members Hong-An Truong and Lien Truong part of group show in New York

September 30, 2022

Congratulations to Hồng-Ân and Lien on the opening of their group show Circular Ruins at island in NYC.

Rubber Factory begins a new chapter as island | gallery inaugural exhibition: Circular Ruinsreception on September 30 from 6 to 8 pm

Open through October 30

Hồng-Ân Trương, Tammy Nguyen, Ragini Bhow, Lien Truong, Mo Kong, Pacifico Silano, Myeongsoo Kim, Ben Tong, Jia Sung, Alex Callender, Sonia Louise Davis, Tess Bilhartz, Y. M. Kwok, Ang Xia Yi, Raya Terran.  
island is pleased to present our inaugural show at our new location at 83 Bowery titled, circular ruins. The exhibition marks the end of our time as “Rubber Factory” and the start of a new chapter as “island”.The show draws its title from a Borges fiction where a protagonist washes up on the ruins of a temple and struggles with the act of creation itself. circular ruins examines the many intentions and conceptual frameworks that charge our new identity as “island”.Islands are defined by their unique geology of discrete land masses separate from mainlands while often having perimeters that are variably submerged. They also form a membrane of nodes across the planet, with more than 900,000 islands serving as frontier lands that are extremely sensitive to change. While many also serve as ahistorical territories which are silent witnesses to historical traumas perpetrated elsewhere and these islands are potential sites for remembrance and regeneration.Artists in circular ruins are engaged in acts of world-building, creating their own languages indexed to their lived experiences. From Ragini Bhow’s abstract vessel-like sculpture to Ben Tong’s pulsing repetitive forms made using a percussive device or Ang Xia Yi’s intimate fabrics made from burnishing images onto vernacular textiles, the works are containers for new ways of knowing. They suggest a divergent path, not dissimilar to the way that the distinct ecologies of islands enable them to be producers of alternative cultures, techniques, and histories.Islands are often sites of colonial, imperialistic conquest, performing the role of flagpole for the extension of vast empires. Because they are on the edge of the world they mark the supple perimeters of power. Tammy Nguyen’s Freehold series in the exhibition about Forest City, a tax-free, man-made island in Johor Malaysia, located along the Singapore Strait deconstructs the fiction of this stabilized geographic realm, interrogating the contemporary urge to seek out new utopian models. While Lien Truong and Hong-An Truong’s “The Sky Is Not Sacred” explores the trauma of Western ideology’s impact on the Vietnamese landscape unpacking the scarring effect on collective psyche and land alike.circular ruins also proposes the island as refuge, as hidden topography, and as porous land where communities can form generative bonds. Pacifico Silano reenacts the history of gay bars as a place of refuge, pleasure, and community. By creating a series of neon works miming the bar signage of these LGBTQ islands that are now shuttered Pacifico memorializes these sites as places for resistant ecosystems to congregate. While Mo Kong’s works from their Swift Island Chain: Letter to Home series locates the diasporic compulsion to seek out new environments and the dissonance that follows.
83 Bowery 2nd Floor

Multiple Faculty and Alumni featured in current Basement X Peel Group Exhibition

September 12, 2022

BASEMENT X PEEL

Fundraiser Exhibition Event

Opening Reception: Friday, September 9th at Peel.

Closing Reception: Saturday, September 24th at BASEMENT.

BASEMENT X PEEL will be on view at both BASEMENT and Peel from Friday, September 9th until Saturday, September 24th. Peel will host an opening reception and silent auction on Friday, September 9th from 6-9 pm, during the Carrboro, Chapel Hill 2nd Friday Art Walk, with refreshments in the parking lot and live music. BASEMENT will host a closing reception and silent auction on Saturday, September 24th from 6-9 pm with “A STANK/STINK Outdoor Happenings,” a performance art experience.

All work in the exhibition will be available for purchase via both traditional sale and silent auction during both receptions and during all open hours of the exhibition at both locations. All proceeds from sales will go to supporting BASEMENT and Peel programming.

BASEMENT Open Hours: 9/10 & 9/11 and 9/17 & 9/18 from 2-5 pm

BASEMENT address: 605 Caswell Rd. Chapel Hill, NC (stairs to BASEMENT on left of driveway)

Featuring work by Adriana Ameigh // Alissa Van Atta // Allison Tierney //Anna-Christina De La Iglesia // Ashlie Johnson Coggins // Ayla Gizlice David D’Agostino // Dawn Colsia // Emma Stevens // Fabrizio Bianchi // Georgia Paige Welch // Hillary Ensminger // Hồng-Ân Trương // Jean Gray Mohs // Jenn Adams // Jimmy Fountain // John Shaw // Jon Neal // Jonh Blanco // Joy Drury Cox // Jphono1 // Leah Foushee Waller // Madeleine Grace Popkin // Madison Speyer // Mark Allen Soderstrom // Mark Anthony Brown Jr. // Marsha Glickman // Matthew Tauch // Natasja Brezenski // Nathaniel Quinn // Paget Fink // Paul Deblinger // Peg Bachenheimer // Rachel Moon // River Cortes // Rusty Shackleford // Serena Fenton // Shelley Smith // Sterling Bowen // Tama Hochbaum // Toni Hartley // Tricia Russ // Gadisse Lee // Jiahn Kang // Lindsay Metivier

MFA Alumna Elizabeth Cornejo named Southern Prize Finalist

September 6, 2022

At the sixth annual Southern Prize and State Fellowships award ceremony held at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, GA yesterday evening, Louisiana artist Hannah Chalew was named the 2022 Southern Prize winner receiving an award of $25,000. The Southern Prize Finalist, receiving a $10,000 award, is Tennessee artist Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo. Both Southern Prize recipients also receive a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences.

They are among the nine State Fellowship recipients, each of whom received a $5,000 award, currently featured in an exhibition on display at the Bo Bartlett Center through December 10, 2022, before touring to additional locations across the region next year.

“Congratulations to Hannah, Sarah, and all of this year’s State Fellowship recipients,” said Neil Barclay, board chair for South Arts. “This cohort of artists represents the diversity in voices, thought, technique, and style of our region, and we are honored to support their work with these awards.”

The nine 2022 Southern Prize and State Fellowship recipients are:

  • Jenny Fine. Multidisciplinary. Alabama Fellow.
  • GeoVanna Gonzalez. Multidisciplinary. Florida Fellow.
  • Antonio Darden. Sculpture. Georgia Fellow.
  • Crystal Gregory. Sculpture. Kentucky Fellow.
  • Hannah Chalew. Mixed Media. Louisiana Fellow and Southern Prize Winner.
  • Gloria Gipson Suggs. Painting. Mississippi Fellow.
  • Marcus Dunn. Painting. North Carolina Fellow.
  • Brittany M. Watkins. Mixed Media. South Carolina Fellow.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo. Sculpture. Tennessee Fellow and Southern Prize Finalist.

Roundup: Art History Alumni starting new positions

August 30, 2022

Congratulations to the following Art History alumni who are all starting new positions!

Recent PhD alumna Rachel Ozerkevich has received a two-year teaching position at Kenyon College.

BA alumna Hallie Ringle was appointed Chief Curator of ICA Philadelphia.

BA alumna Maya Brooks was appointed Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NCMA.

MA alumna Julianne Miao was appointed a Curatorial Assistant for the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Work by Faculty Member Lien Truong in Upcoming Solo and Group Shows

August 24, 2022

Turner Carroll Gallery
Lien Truong: From the Earth Rise Radiant Beings
August 26 – September 25, 2022
Opening Reception, August 26, 5-7 pm

In her first solo exhibition at Turner Carroll Gallery Lien Truong exhibits works from her series From the Earth Rise Radiant Beings. The series consists of bold explorations of color and form, and staunch repudiation of Orientalist stereotypes. Taking female figures from 18th- and 19th-century paintings she transforms them into silhouettes painted in the palest yellow hues and reappropriates the figures’ sexualized and submissive gestures into a kind of Asian futurism. Through otherworldly landscapes and anamorphic silk shapes, Truong creates narratives of love transcending generations to create messages of resistance, autonomy, and beauty.

View work in the exhibition.


Patricia Sweetow Gallery Los Angeles
Linda Sormin | Luis A. Sahagun | Lien Truong
September 3 – October 15, 2022
Artist Reception, September 10, 2022, 2-8 pm

PATRICIA SWEETOW GALLERY is excited to announce our Inaugural Exhibition in Los Angeles at 1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, 3rd Floor, with artists Lien Truong, North Carolina; Linda Sormin, New York and Luis A. Sahagun, California. The three artists in this exhibition offer practices immersed in complex visual and political American histories. They share personal, spiritual, and cultural stories of migration during war, economic collapse, and sovereign colonization. Their journeys come alive through a mélange of performative sculpture and painting, amplified by their respective interrogations of ancestral, racial, gender, and ritual erasure. The rich, profound impact of their ideas finds life in unexpected iterations of nontraditional and historical materials. The three artists offer compelling and imaginative cultural forms that examine deeply personal histories that have endured within and alongside dominant culture under extraordinary circumstances.

In Memoriam: Former Faculty Member Michael D. Harris

August 1, 2022

From his obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (author Bo Emerson):

Michael D. Harris, associate professor of art history at Emory University, a published author, a curator, and an artist collected by individuals and museums, has been described as a Renaissance man.

But there was at least one discipline he couldn’t master: He was bested by a fiendish reed instrument called the saxophone.

His abandoned alto sax sits on top of Rev. Dwight Andrews’ piano. Andrews, a fellow Emory University professor and an accomplished musician and composer, began teaching Harris saxophone when they were both students at Yale University.

Harris never got the knack, prompting his friend Adger Cowans, a “closet” horn player, to tell him, “Michael, give me that saxophone, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

What Harris did know was the academic study of African and African-American art. He also knew how to create his own art. One of the mixed-media collages that typified Harris’ work became the centerpiece of Andrews’ living room, a celebration of ancestral images that serves as a “family altar.”

A self-portrait collage by Michael D. Harris was part of a show by the artist at September Gray Fine Art Gallery. Image: Michael D. Harris

Credit: Michael D. Harris

Harris’ research and writings concerning the art of the African diaspora will have a deep impact on that field, said Andrews. “He casts a long shadow over what we think about 20th and 21st-century Black art.”

Michael DeHart Harris, of Grant Park, died Monday, July 11, of a recurrence of cancer, according to his family members. He had retired two years ago from Emory but retained the title of associate professor emeritus. He was 73.

Though he was facing cancer of the esophagus, he remained resolutely in his own home, where he lived alone, up until the last week of his life. Family and friends often spent nights there to help out.

“He was a very stubborn guy,” said his daughter Dara Heard. “That is his way. When he set his mind to something, he stuck to it. He said ‘I’m going to fight this and he fought to the very end.”

Harris was a shortstop on the baseball team as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, carrying on a legacy of athleticism established by his maternal grandfather and namesake, William DeHart Hubbard.

Hubbard, a student at the University of Michigan, won the long jump at the 1924 Paris Games, becoming the first Black athlete to bring home Olympic gold in an individual sport.

The grandson, however, turned his attention from baseball to the study of art and art history in college and graduate school, earning a master of fine arts and eventually a doctorate from Yale.

He taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College, Wellesley College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dillard University before arriving at Emory.

While at Emory he published “Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation,” which dealt with the construction of Black identity through racial imagery, and with the response from Black artists, whose work uses and subverts those stereotypical tropes.

“It is a really important book,” said Richard Powell, professor of art history at Duke University. Another book, “ASHÉ: Ritual Poetics in African Diasporic Expressivity,” written with Paul Carter Harrison and Pellom McDaniels III, has just been released, and “Sanctuary: A Black and Blues Aesthetic in African American Art,” is at the publisher, according to daughter Shani Harris.

Powell said Harris’ legacy will be his deep and thoughtful inquiry into the intersection of art and the African American experience. But he is also impressed with Harris’ other creative output.

“The thing about Michael is he has been able to do what I’ve not been able to do,” said Powell. “There’s an interesting balance between his vocation as an art historian, but he’s also an incredible artist. He makes incredible paintings, he makes amazing photographs.”

Powell has several of Harris’ photographs and prints in his Durham house, and said “there’s not a day that goes by without me walking past something of his that brings a smile to my face.”

Said Andrews, “Michael was prolific in terms of his published work — his books — as well as his fine art. He was constantly creating art.”

Andrews added “He was always having a multidisciplinary conversation, always making connections. He inspired all of us to look for connectivity and continuity. We all found him to be a stimulating friend and colleague.”

In 1979 Harris joined the AfriCOBRA collective (it stands for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). The group had its origin in Chicago in the 1960s, among Black artists tired of catering to a white aesthetic.

“He kind of emphasized AfriCOBRA, as being the Black Panthers of the art world,” said fellow member Kevin Cole, Atlanta painter and educator who was invited into the group by Harris. “It was about a group of men coming together and planning their own destiny.”

Michael D. Harris (right), eminent curator, artist and scholar, had his work exhibited alongside art from the best among African American artists, including David Driskell (left). Photo: Susan Ross

Credit: Susan Ross

Cole is among the individuals portrayed in Harris’ images from a 2017 show called “Art Portraits of the Artist.” Staged at September Gray Fine Art, Harris’ photographs captured “the artist’s spirit,” said Cole. “There’s one of me, and the first thing everybody said to me is: ‘That’s you!’ The joyfulness.”

Cowans, who is also a member of AfriCOBRA, said that unlike himself, Harris was not a pessimist. “Everybody is selfish, they don’t give a (expletive), but Michael always looked at the best part of people.”

Harris’ daughter Dara said the setbacks in Harris’ life from casual racism didn’t slow him down. “That was something he would get on me about,” she said. “Don’t let your fears hold you back. To keep going, keep stepping, keep moving. Because that’s what he did. He was dealt a lot of blows in his life, but it didn’t stop him.”

Plans for a service for the late Michael D. Harris were incomplete as of Wednesday, July 20.

Link to the Journal-Constitution Obituary: Michael Harris, scholar, creator, inspired with his research, artwork

In Memoriam: James E. Newton, first African-American graduate of MFA program

July 5, 2022

Dr. James E. Newton, a beloved instructor and mentor to many, sadly departed this earthly life on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, following a gradual decline in health. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Newton was born on July 3, 1941, in Bridgeton, New Jersey to the late Clifford and Hilda Newton, the 4th of their nine children. After serving as a military policeman in the Army, he received his B.A. in Art and German from North Carolina Central University, a Masters of Fine Art (MFA) from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Doctorate in Curriculum Development in Black Studies and Education from Illinois State University. An award-winning artist, Dr. Newton was the first African-American to receive an MFA degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

In addition to his love of art, Dr. Newton had a passion for teaching and mentoring young people, which he was able to do for many years while serving as a tenured professor and director of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware.
He is the author of several books, including The Principles of Diversity, The Other Slaves, Curriculum Evaluation of Student Knowledge of Afro-American Life and History, and numerous articles on multicultural education, African-American art, and diversity. In addition to being an inductee into the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, he is also the recipient of the University of Delaware’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and most recently, a recipient of the University’s Honorary Doctorate.
An active member of the community, Dr. Newton served on the board of many organizations, including the Walnut Street YMCA, Delaware State Arts Council, Delaware Art Museum, The Tatnall School, Public Allies, and others. He was also a 50+ year member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Dr. Newton lived an exceptional life that has served as a model for younger generations to follow. He was not only a loving husband, devoted father, and friend to many, but he was a true inspiration to those whose lives he touched. He will be greatly missed by all that had the privilege to be a part of his life.

Dr. Newton is preceded in death by his brother David.

Dr. Newton is survived by his wife of 54 years, LaWanda; his daughters, Regina, Walidah, and KaWansi; grandchildren Sean, Imevar, Nahlia, Isis, and Indigo; siblings Charles, George, Mary, Margaret, Katherine, Ann, and Jeffrey; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.