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Ackland exhibits will close Sunday

The Ackland Art Museum has been exploring the American past, embarking upon a journey connecting the country with nature.

But time is running out.

The museum’s current exhibits — “Tradition in Clay: Two Centuries of Classic North Carolina Pots,” “At Work in the Wilderness: Picturing the American Landscape, 1820-1920” and “The Oldest Paintings in America: Utah’s Rock Art” — will close on Sunday.

Museum Director Emily Kass described the collections as a journey through America’s varying landscapes.

She said that the three exhibits represent the American connection to its roots in the land.

“Tradition in Clay” features pottery primarily created from North Carolina soil.

Three potters who have contributed their work to the collection lectured to full audiences.

The works featured in the first of two rooms reflect traditional pottery used to store food and supplies while that of the second room is more intricately patterned.

With aesthetically pleasing glazes and jars designed with faces, the second room displays the family ties of several potters represented.

Emily Bowles, director of communications for Ackland, described the separation of the rooms as a way of representing the development of clay work.

“(It’s) tradition, or the set of ideas and progression throughout the centuries,” Bowles said.

This tension between the old and new is captured in all of the featured exhibits.

“The Oldest Paintings in America” showcases rare photography of ancient paintings inscribed in the rocks of Utah.

Several of the photographs were enhanced by technology NASA utilized in 2004 for the Mars Rover, Bowles said.

This enhancement does not alter the original pieces, but provides a clearer view of the weathered, mysterious drawings found mainly in Utah, she said.

“At Work in the Wilderness” incorporates ties to the American landscape.

Co-curated by art history professor Ross Barrett, the exhibit provided a unique opportunity for graduate students in the department.

Each student researched a single painting in the exhibit and provided the plaque information that accompanies the artwork.

The collection reflects land as a place to be cultivated and developed. Simultaneously, the land is presented as “pure, with a desire to preserve,” Barrett said.

“(The three sections together) produce the felicitous art of nature, finding the creative possibility in the natural landscape,” Barrett said.

The public reception of the exhibits has been very positive, Bowles said.

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“People love the celebration of American art.”

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