The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Ackland’s ‘Spectacular of Vernacular’ transforms the commonplace into art

The work in the Ackland Art Museum’s latest show transforms the familiar into the fantastic, the mundane into the marvelous.

“The Spectacular of Vernacular” opens today, as the Ackland celebrates the transformation of commonplace, regional items into whimsically creative contemporary art.

Ackland Art Museum
Opening reception at 6 p.m.
Admission is free

The show — which runs for the next two months — features 25 leading contemporary artists. The Ackland is the final venue on the show’s tour and the only venue in the Southeast.

Curators from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis organized the exhibition with the intent to embrace the rustic charm and discordant clash of surroundings that often go unnoticed — like an antique car lodged in overgrown grass and vines and excessively flashy signs for motels.

The artists used a combination of conventional art materials and items from everyday life to create paintings and sculptures. These, along with video and photography, will send viewers on a road trip through regions of the U.S.

Emily Bowles, the Ackland’s director of communications, said the show will invoke meanings that viewers associate with their social, cultural and regional homes.

“As demonstrated by the artists in this exhibition, a whole host of emotions — pleasure, nostalgia, anxiety, etcetera — can be expressed creatively through everyday objects,” Bowles said.

Peter Nisbet, chief curator at the Ackland, said that the presentation will be rich and stimulating.

“It’s a show that allows our students and other visitors to think about what is the relationship between their own local, regional cultures and contemporary art,” he said.

“And what is the role of the local in this age of the Internet and globalization.”

The exhibition starts a series of shows at the Ackland examining the vernacular from different perspectives, like through pottery and quilts, Bowles said.

The Ackland has scheduled lectures, guided tours and performances related to “The Spectacular of Vernacular” to help viewers see the range of artworks on display.

Emily Kass, director of the Ackland, said an interesting facet of the programming is the incorporation of music.

Musicians will use handmade instruments and recordings of everyday sounds to communicate a musical approach to the vernacular.

“A musician-composer has been recording sounds of installing the exhibition and is creating music using and manipulating these sounds,” Kass explained.

Mark Little — whose stage name is MGL — will continue taping sounds in the gallery throughout the exhibition for a final performance, she said.

“We’re really excited to do some contemporary programming,” Kass said.

“It’s always wonderful to introduce new artists.”

Contact the Arts Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel Women's Tennis Victory Paper

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive