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Artists from Durham to Japan combine the elements in new exhibit, 'You Are Here'

You Are Here

 “Intersections” is an art installation by Anila Agha currently featured in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s “You Are Here” exhibit. Photo by Nash Baker.

The North Carolina Museum of Art opened an exhibition like no other on April 7. 

“You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences,” which will remain open through July 22, started with an ambitious idea and grew from there. 

“We were looking at featuring one or two contemporary artists,” said Linda Dougherty, chief curator and curator of contemporary art for the museum. “Then we thought it would be more interesting to have all 15.”

The 15 installation artists hail from all over the world, from Durham to Japan, and their works are just as wide-ranging. Some of their pieces focus on light, color or sound, while others combine all three elements. 

“It’s very different from what you might expect,” Dougherty said. “You are completely surrounded and you often have to interact with the works.”

As an example, Dougherty referenced the work of Yayoi Kusama, an 89-year-old Japanese artist. Her piece, “Light of Life,” uses LED and computer technology to engage viewers in a light show. 

In addition to Kusama, the exhibition showcases the work of North Carolinian Heather Gordon. Her work “Cinnabar” greets visitors right as they enter and depicts the chemical reaction of mercury and sulfur. 

“I knew I wanted it to be about alchemy,” Gordon said of the piece. “The show is all about transformative experiences.” 

As a local artist, Gordon said she felt proud to be a part of the museum’s ambitious undertaking. 

“This isn’t your regular exhibit,” she said. “It’s not usual for this area. We don’t get these kind of shows here. It’s absolutely a stunner.” 

Emily Kotecki works as manager of interpretation for the museum and has witnessed many positive reactions to various pieces of art in the exhibition over the past few days.

“You cannot go wrong,” Kotecki said. “Each room provides such a different experience. It’s hard for me to say which is most compelling.” 

The exhibition features interpretative activities in addition to the artwork itself. Four iPads showcase interviews with 12 of the artists, allowing visitors to gain some insight into the creative process behind their works. The museum also offers a space for visitors to conceptualize their own art. 

“You become an artist yourself,” Kotecki said. “It helps you relate to art in a different way.”

The museum also partnered with Fullsteam Brewery to create different beers inspired by all the artwork. 

“I had never done something like that,” Gordon said. “I don’t think it’s a bad overlap. I think it’s interesting.” 

Overall, the exhibition covers a whole floor of the museum’s temporary exhibition galleries and even continues out into the Museum Park. 

“We traditionally do paintings and sculptures,” Dougherty said. “Now, we’re expanding the definition of art. It’s an opportunity for people to see work from artists all over the world and to open their mind to what art can be — especially contemporary art.” 


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