Throughout a span of 350 years, a lot can change. Great art, however, remains timeless.
Starting Friday, the Ackland Art Museum will feature two historically-based exhibits from different periods in American history.
“The New Found Land” is an exhibition that focuses on European impressions of Native American culture during the late 1500s through engravings and other printed materials. “America Seen” focuses on 1920s and 1940s America, also through various types of prints.
“The New Found Land” is divided into three parts: a visual introduction to main players — such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth — during British colonization of America, Native American artifacts, as well as engravings from Thomas Harriot’s 1590 book, “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.”
“What interested me was showing a little bit of the other side of the activities, not what the settlers did and what happened to them, but the native people whom they encountered and their artifacts,” said Ackland Chief Curator Peter Nisbet. “It’s looking at things with the emphasis shifted to the Native Americans. And they’re very beautiful engravings.”
The “America Seen” exhibition features 38 compositions of prints, lithographs, wood engravings, etches and more from the 1920s to 1940s. Emily Bowles, the Ackland director of communications, said the works are all in the social-realist style.
“They deal with various aspects of life in America from rural scenes to urban scenes and give us some snapshot of some pretty turbulent decades in America,” she said.
“There’s a lot of interest in comparing the economic situations and the hardships people encountered,” Nisbet said about “America Seen.” “In many ways, the 1930s was a defining decade for American culture and society.”
While 350 years separates the two shows, what unites them is the blend of history and art and a love for UNC that kept alumni thinking of the Ackland long after graduation.