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UNC studio art, art departments collaborate for ‘Sincerely Yours’

UNC’s departments of studio art and art history don’t often work together.

But for the first time at UNC, these two departments will display their collaborations in “Sincerely Yours,” — the Ackland Art Museum’s final exhibit of the semester.

Two Ph.D. candidates in the art history department, Kim Bobier and Russell Gullette, were requested to curate an exhibit by the Ackland and the studio art department at the beginning of this year.

The exhibit features the work of the eight graduating Master of Fine Arts students who showed their individual thesis projects in the “Your Turn to Burn” series this semester.

“This is the first time an MFA group has had an exhibit like this at the end of the year, as well as each artist’s individual shows outside of the Ackland, which is their thesis show,” Bobier said.

After attending the MFA artists’ weekly critiques, as well as having personal conversations with them about their work through studio visits, Bobier and Gullette said they came up with the theme of sincerity for the exhibit.

“During our meetings with each of the artists, it became apparent that they were approaching their medium, subject matter and social issues in a very direct and earnest way,” Gullette said.

“‘Sincerely Yours,’ attempts to highlight this approach.”

After brainstorming and discussing the idea of sincerity as a theme, the curators further inspected each artist’s work to decide which pieces they would showcase in “Sincerely Yours.”

Bobier said the space and arrangement is important to the meaning of the exhibit.

“During installation, we were also able to arrange works so that different dialogues developed,” he said.

“We tried to find points of balance and interest between their different media, styles and subjects.”

Professors from both departments — studio art and art history — have collaborated in the production of this exhibit by working with the student artists and curators, respectively.

Jeff Whetstone, a studio art professor, has been working with these students for two years in the very intensive master’s program.

“The show becomes very integrated from what would be eight individual artists — an indicator of that specific process at UNC as a group show,” Whetstone said.

Art history professor Cary Levine said he acted as a liaison between the art department and the museum.

“I hope people realize the strong connection between the art studio side and the art history department,” Levine said.

“Each brings its own expertise to the table.”

Each featured artist uses a different style, and for this exhibit in particular, media and materials vary largely from artist to artist.

MFA student William Thomas — who works with images in paintings and graphic blankets — hopes the exhibit will encourage viewers to look with a critical eye.

“I would like people to take away a sense of scrutiny and to revel in the beauty of the everyday and the common experience,” he said.

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