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UNC doctoral student curates the work of black and female artists in Ackland’s ‘Piece by Piece’ exhibit

The fruits of Kimberly Kutz’s seven-plus months of labor will open today.

“Piece by Piece: Quilts, Collages, and Constructions” — one of the Ackland Art Museum’s most recent exhibitions — has been the curatorial intern’s project since August.

Kutz, also a Ph.D candidate in history, said curating her first show has been worth the effort.

“It has been the most rewarding experience of my graduate career,” she said.

The show features 17 pieces — ranging from quilts to photographs — by 16 different artists.

Carolyn Allmendinger, director of academic programs at the museum, supervises the Ackland’s interns.

She said that Kutz impressed everyone with her abilities to work independently and create the whole exhibition out of her own ideas.

“She did a terrific job of integrating new acquisitions as well as finding good places for pieces from the permanent collection,” she said.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a quilt from Gee’s Bend, a historic quilting community in Alabama, but the show features a wide spectrum of work.

“It’s a range of everything from quilts, mixed media collages, a number of photographs and sculptural pieces,” said Emily Bowles, director of communications for the Ackland.

Kutz said the show is important because it highlights the work of female and black artists.

“It’s not just about redrawing the lines from a male perspective, but about actually showcasing them as artists,” she said.

The show features pieces from a range of different artists that show the different takes on textile art and women’s labor.

But Bowles said that there is a clear thread connecting the different exhibits.

“It’s a really thoughtful show — she did something so complex and made a number of great curatorial decisions,” she said.

“You can walk in and take in the collection on one day but come back and see different connections between the pieces — similarities in processing, collages, labor-intensity.”

Allmendinger said visitors to the exhibition should note the excellence not only of the exhibition’s pieces, but also of its curator.

“They should appreciate the fact that it was a student who curated the show,” she said.

“She did a terrific job.”

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