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Hanes visiting artist to lecture on social aspects of American culture

Person With Rat

Maya Gurantz, a Los Angeles based artist, will interrogate social imaginaries of American culture as a lecturer in the art department’s Hanes Visiting Artist Series this Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Hanes Art Center. Photo courtesy of Maya Gurantz.

Maya Gurantz, a Los Angeles-based artist, will investigate social imaginaries of American culture as a lecturer in the art department’s Hanes Visiting Artist Series this Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Hanes Art Center.

Gurantz said she creates art in a wide range of forms, such as video installations, public performance, writing and sculptures and mediates on topics of race, sex, gender, politics and ideas of progress.

“What they all have in common is that they're trying to explore something about the most conflicted terrain of our human experience in a way that allows you to engage with it that's accessible, but still makes you think about complicated things,” Gurantz said.

Many of Gurantz’s works are site-specific, she said, responding to a certain location, place in history or political issue currently happening. They are often based in deep historical research and are conceptual.

"Every idea that I'm trying to get across is going to communicate best in a specific form,” Gurantz said.

Beth Grabowski, an art professor at UNC, said Gurantz has more potential to engage broader audiences than many traditional artists because a lot of her work is performed in public spaces and involves interaction with a wide range of people.

“Her practice is built around creating space for dialogue and from perhaps unexpected perspectives,” Grabowski said.

In addition to lecturing, Grabowski said, Gurantz will visit graduate students in the studio. She hopes Gurantz will challenge their thinking in a way that will support their own developing work. 

Gurantz said she will speak about a few of her big pieces and trace through the development of her artistic process and how ideas emerged from previous pieces. She loves when other artists share how they work and how they think about working.

“Even if you work in a different medium, that's one thing that we all have in common as makers,” Gurantz said. “There's a certain process to it, there are times when the ideas come easily, there are times when they don't.”

According to a press release from the art and art history department, an endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the art department's Visiting Artist Series.

Grabowski said the visiting artist lectures bring different focuses on specific practices.

“It provides a model for others to think about how they're doing things and to maybe reconsider their own methodologies in terms of making art," Grabowski said. “It's nice to see other options for how one can be an artist in the world."

Gurantz is an Artist-in-Residence at the McColl Center in Charlotte as well.

“The McColl is a pretty special place,” Gurantz said. “Artists rarely have the opportunity to almost take a sabbatical like this, where you are really given the time and space to slow down and really just look at your work, think about things, experiment, make mistakes."

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