The John and June Allcott Gallery in Hanes Art Building will host "Footnotes (revisions)" from Nov. 9 to Dec. 5. The exhibition will showcase student activist groups that narrate the history of Carolina Hall and materials from the Wilson Library.
Professor Jina Valentine has worked with her curatorial art class, along with multiple campus groups, to create the exhibit. Together they have compiled materials, artifacts, documents and videos that address the name change process of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. While at first it might feel like a history exhibit to viewers, "Footnotes (revisions)" takes history and transforms it into something more — something powerful.
“I think maybe the exhibit itself is a work of art,” said Valentine.
Valentine has been working with her students in her curation class this semester to tackle this subject. They have been discussing the role of the curator: does the curator simply put artwork together or do they form new meaning and create new ideas? Or does the artist alone create the meaning?
"Footnotes (revisions)" is named because of the nature of the exhibit. There will be texts from the original Carolina Hall exhibition on the panes of glass with a footnote. An information box will show the research behind the text, as well as the work of student protesters.
Along with the footnotes, Valentine said, “There will be a collection of Daily Tar Heel editions, other local newspapers, a Black Ink edition, which was a student activist newspaper that ran for a long time, as well as several Chancellors' records from 1918 to present, old photos of the building and correspondences with student activists – anything related to the building name change and also the silencing of student activist groups.”
She said information will be presented in a dynamic, engaging and thought-provoking way.
“We’re kind of taking a library approach," said senior Sarah Phillips Orr, an art major who is curating the exhibit. "We’re putting information out, bit-by-bit, but not super overwhelming on the walls. We’re doing video, audio and reading. It’s multimedia.”
The class has been figuring out how best to display the work which addresses a controversial subject. Saunders Hall was originally named after a KKK leader and UNC trustee, and was renamed to Carolina Hall in 2015.
“We’re hoping to fill the voids that have been left in the University's narrative about the transition from Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall and why that history has jumped over Hurston Hall,” Valentine said.
The exhibit will display a plaque made by UNC second-year MFA student Jeanine Tatlock. The plaque honored Zora Neale Hurston, who some student organizations wanted the building to be named after. The plaque was removed and put in the Wilson Library Archive Collection. The exhibit is borrowing it along with the old Saunders Hall plaque.
“We’re just presenting everyone the information, all the information that we’ve found and that FLOCK has found and the researchers for the exhibition have found," said Zoe Schulze, another student from Valentine's curating class. "I think it’s kind of revealing Saunders and his history, and also incorporating student activism around the legacy of Saunders Hall and including a little bit of the Silent Sam Coalition.”
While the exhibit does not feature paintings and drawings, it frames the efforts of student activists throughout our campus’s history in an artistic way.
Groups such as Wilson Library staff, Feminists Liberating Our Collective Knowledge, the Real Silent Sam Coalition and the Campus Y have contributed research for the exhibit.
FLOCK has contributed an interactive portion to the exhibit. They created postcards for visitors to write their thoughts on the exhibit that will then be sent to the South Building.
“I think most of all it’s just providing a sense of legitimacy to a lot of these student groups," said Grace Han, another student in the class. "There is a lot of serious consideration behind each action taken within the political sphere. So I think that’s also really important for this exhibition, as well.”
The exhibit aims to make a statement by presenting this information about the Carolina Hall history.
Valentine, who is directing the gallery for the fourth time, discussed the themes of work she showcases.
“I’m trying to bring in work that starts conversations about formal issues and aesthetic issues and also about political and social issues,” she said.
Adelle Bortz, a student working with the curation, explained the importance of the exhibit.
“We are giving credit where credit is due,” Bortz said.
The opening reception for the exhibit is Nov. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the John and June Allcott Gallery.
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