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Q&A with MFA graduate student Ali Halperin

Ali Halerpin in her exhibit, Episode, in Allcott Gallery.
Ali Halerpin in her exhibit, Episode, in Allcott Gallery.

As part of the UNC art department’s Master of Fine Arts exhibition series, “Your Turn to Burn,” graduate student Ali Halperin’s show “Episode” is on display this week in Hanes Art Center.

Staff writer Gabriella Cirelli spoke with Halperin about her show — the inspiration and meaning behind it as well as what she wants viewers to take away from the experience.

Daily Tar Heel: What is the inspiration behind your show?

Ali Halperin: I actually started being inspired by the reality TV show “Hoarders.”

I noticed that the subjects would get broken down into the stuff that they had. So I started thinking about how material culture starts affecting our physical bodies and spaces and the relationships between the items that we amass.

And how it literally affects us and changes our physical spaces and selves.

DTH: What kinds of pieces will you be featuring? Why did you choose this specific medium?

AH: These are articles of clothing — they’re mostly mine and my family’s — and they’ve been encased in tar.

So there’s kind of an interesting relationship between this really low, gross construction material and then this glossy black finish that makes them look expensive again.

It gives kind of a high-low effect.

DTH: What is unique about this show in comparison to other projects you’ve done?

AH: I came into this program and I was doing a lot of digital work and photography.

But then I started coming back to this more physical space, so I was trying to talk a lot about the body in digital media but now it’s become a lot more physical and almost more aggressive and related to the viewer.

DTH: What are you hoping that viewers will take away from the show?

AH: I kind of want to walk the line between grotesque and elegant, and having that weird moment where you’re not sure whether you’re supposed to like what you’re seeing and really feel a relationship to what you’re seeing — which is kind of like what happens when you’re watching reality TV.

So I think that moment of guilty pleasure is something I’m looking for.

And realizing that these pieces are about you and being grotesque and frozen and overwhelming, but also shiny and pretty.

DTH: What was the hardest part about creating and organizing this show?

AH: I really loved creating the pieces, but I had to edit out half of the things I’ve made while installing it.

They’re like my babies, so it’s hard to let them go.

DTH: Is there anything else you want people to know about the show?

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AH: I really want people to come and I feel like (the show) is something different for the UNC community.

I grew up in Chapel Hill and I moved to New York for college and this is not something that I would’ve seen growing up here.

So I think it would be cool for people to come and see something more contemporary.

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