Weatherspoon Art Museum
I’ve just written about our visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, last Wednesday. We got to our car around 2:30 in the afternoon. Before driving back to Chapel Hill for dinner with Joel, I wanted to stop at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This took Gail by surprise. She might have been thinking a late lunch would be a welcome idea. I assured her that she wanted to see the museum and we agreed that I’d find her coffee and a snack instead.
On reaching the museum, we learned that they didn’t have a café, but were pointed in the direction of local hangout Coffeeology, just down the street. You can see the table where we sat, the two-top just right of center where the guy in the gray sweater is looking downwards.
On returning to the museum, we went upstairs to see the Trenton Doyle Hancock exhibition, WE DONE ALL WE COULD AND NONE OF IT’S GOOD. “Internationally acclaimed Texas-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock is best known for his ongoing narrative and theatrical installations that thrust the viewer literally and figuratively into his personal, idiosyncratic, and, at times, heretical weave of words and images. This exhibition features new and selected works executed across a wide variety of media, including drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture.”
We didn’t spend long, moving on to Telling Tales: Narratives from the 1930s, a small but superb exhibit. From the website:
Artists who advocated both representational and abstract styles attempted to capture the spirit of their age—a time marked by the bleak reality of the Great Depression as well as the uplifting optimism linked with the machine age and its promise of progress. While works by Social Realist and Regionalist artists—the art market’s dominant styles at the time—abound, images by other artists whose concerns were more psychologically penetrating are also included.
We were two days too early for the opening of Matisse and the Decorative Impulse, being prepared in some additional second floor space. Back on the main floor, we looked at Richard Mosse: Falk Visiting Artist. As the title indicates, Mosse is visiting the university now, and in honor of the visit, the museum has a show of his recent work.
Photographer Richard Mosse has spent the last two years shooting a new series of work titled Infra in the eastern Congo. The artist is known for his restrained and highly aestheticized views of sites associated with violence and fear, such as his 2008 depictions of the war in Iraq, and his large-scale photographs of airplane crash sites and emergency drills. For his work in the Congo, Mosse used Kodak Aerochrome, an infrared film designed in connection with the United States military to detect camouflage in the 1940s. The film reveals a spectrum of light beyond what the human eye can perceive, turning the lush landscape of the Congo into a bubblegum pink. This hue contrasts dramatically with the severe environment within which the people of the eastern Congo live and draws our attention to the complex social and political dynamics of the country. Beginning in 1998, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) became the site of the widest interstate war in modern African history, which has claimed millions of lives. Although the conflict was thought to have subsided in 2006, with the first free elections, thousands continue to die as a result of the ongoing conflict, most due to hunger and disease.
Mosse’s technique, as described above, yields amazing results. The landscape colors are altered while other colors remain true, creating surprisingly powerful images. The one at the top is typical. Here’s one more.
On our way out, we took a quick look at the Sculpture Garden.
Who would have imagined that UNC Greensboro has such a good art museum? For that matter, who would have imagined that there are so many wonderful museums in Greensboro? We saw so much in our six hours.