Robert W. Ebendorf (American, 1938−), various artists. ECU Charm Necklace, 2017,
silver, copper, brass, enamel, mixed media, found objects, 19 × 12 1/2 × 1 3/4 in.
Collection of The Mint Museum. Gift of Porter • Price Collection. 2022.49.7

Objects of Affection: Jewelry by Robert Ebendorf from the Porter • Price Collection

The story of how a twig necklace led to decades of friendship and a comprehensive collection of works

By Rebecca E. Elliot

You could say that the story of this exhibition starts with a necklace made from twigs. In 1996, Joe Price was working in San Francisco, where his partner (now husband) Ron Porter frequently visited him. They had become interested in contemporary craft during the 1980s through visits to New York and had begun exploring galleries and museums in the Bay Area.

At the Susan Cummins Gallery in Mill Valley, California, Porter and Price saw The Opera Show, for which Cummins invited artists to interpret an opera of their choosing through jewelry. But instead of evoking a specific opera, Ebendorf presented Twig Necklace — a ruff of radiating twigs accented by gold spirals and pearls — provocatively suggesting that this adornment be worn to an opera.

For Ebendorf, this combination of precious and nonprecious materials was typical, but for Porter and Price — and the world at large — it was quite unusual. Porter and Price were fascinated, later describing it as “one of the defining moments of our experience with jewelry.” Yet, they did not purchase the necklace because they perceived it as needing to be worn by a woman to an event. It was only later that they would view jewelry as sculpture that could adorn a wall or simply be owned and admired.

Twig Necklace remained on their minds until two years later when Porter met Ebendorf at the Penland School of Craft Auction and asked about the necklace. He was delighted to learn that Ebendorf still had the necklace. Ebendorf was impressed by this collector who remembered his work from years ago. Not only did Porter and Price purchase the necklace soon after, but the conversation ignited a friendship that has lasted around 25 years and a collection of hundreds of pieces of jewelry. 

Building a collection

Prior to buying Twig Necklace, Porter and Price purchased a ring by Ebendorf from the Susan Cummins Gallery. After buying the necklace, they purchased other works by Ebendorf, but in the spring of 2009, their collecting of jewelry became more ambitious.

Twig Necklace by artist Robert Ebendorf

Robert Ebendorf (American, 1938- ), Twig Necklace, circa 1994, wood, pearl, 18k gold, steel, 14 1/8 X 13 1/4 x 1/2 in. Collection of The Mint Museum. Gift of Porter * Price Collection. 2019.93.28

At Ebendorf’s invitation, they visited the undergraduate and graduate jewelry and metal design programs at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina where Ebendorf taught from 1997 to 2016. After meeting Ebendorf’s faculty colleagues Linda Darty, Tim Lazure, and Mi-Sook Hur, and students (some of whom were setting up their thesis exhibitions), Porter and Price were impressed by the originality of the students’ work. After that visit, Porter and Price began collecting works by ECU faculty members and students, becoming an important source of friendship and support especially for the students and graduates at an early stage of their careers.

During that same trip in the spring of 2009, Porter and Price joined Ebendorf to view a retrospective of his work at the Imperial Arts Centre in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This was the first time they had seen so many works from Ebendorf’s then 50-year career. They were blown away by his craftsmanship and range, which includes vessels, jewelry, drawings, and installations, extending from sleek, modernist silver objects of the 1950s and early 1960s to his innovative use of found 19th-century photographs on jewelry in the late 1960s, experiments with plastics and torn newspaper in the 1970s and 1980s, and provocative use of squirrel paws and crab claws in the 1990s. 

Porter and Price decided to build a comprehensive collection of Ebendorf’s work to include not only jewelry, objects, and drawings, but also archival materials such as exhibition catalogues and correspondence. As they built this collection (in addition to collections of contemporary ceramics, art in various media, and jewelry by artists not connected to ECU), Porter and Price became more involved with museums, including The Mint Museum. Their goal of preserving Ebendorf’s and the other ECU artists’ work to benefit artists, scholars, and the public aligned with the Mint’s goal of acquiring jewelry by regional, national, and international artists.

In 2019 the museum acquired the Porter • Price Collection as part gift, part purchase (with subsequent gifts in 2022 and 2024) along with the gift of the Robert W. Ebendorf Archive. The Porter • Price Collection comprises around 200 works by Ebendorf and approximately 100 objects by ECU faculty and graduates, while the archive comprises 13 cubic feet (about half the volume of a large refrigerator) of documents, audio-visual materials, and the hundreds of letters and collaged postcards exchanged between the artist and collectors.

Ebendorf gifted and sold works to Porter and Price that he had held back, such as his Colored Smoke Machine brooch (above) from his 1974 series of that name. This was inspired by the work of German jeweler Claus Bury, who was combining colored acrylic with gold on his own work of the time, and who visited Ebendorf that year when Ebendorf was a professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The series title, and this brooch’s form, were inspired by Bury’s fanciful drawings of Ebendorf’s house with colored smoke coming from the chimney, which Bury explained changed color according to the occupant’s moods. The brooch thus speaks to Ebendorf’s experimentation with materials and his friendships with international artists and represents one of the many stories told through the objects in the exhibition.

The exhibition Objects of Affection celebrates the oeuvre of Ebendorf, the work of his colleagues and former students at ECU and the friendships among the artists and collectors. It traces Ebendorf’s career since his first jewelry in the 1950s, concentrating on his work in the 21st century, and shows how he influenced his field by approaching materials and people the same way — connecting what was previously unrelated to create a new and compelling whole. This he did as a jeweler, metalsmith, collage artist, professor, teacher of workshops, and friend and mentor to many.

Objects of Affection is generously presented by Bank of America. Individual sponsorship is kindly provided by Posey and Mark Mealy, Jeffrey and Staci Mills, Emily and Bill Oliver, Beth and Drew Quartapella, Ches and Chrys Riley, and Ann and Michael Tarwater. 

Rebecca E. Elliot is assistant curator of Craft, Design, and Fashion and curator of this exhibition.

By Page Leggett

Jackie Milad’s cultural identity informs her art. The Baltimore-based artist paints and collages large-scale, mixed-media abstracts that explore her Egyptian-Honduran heritage.

Before becoming a full-time artist, she worked as a curator and ran an art gallery. Her ties to Charlotte — a city she says “charmed” her — are many. The Mint Museum and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture have exhibited her work, she had a 2021 residency at the McColl Center, and is represented in the Queen City by SOCO Gallery.

On her first visit to the Mint during her residency at the McColl Center, she was “blown away by the curatorial work,” she says. “Having worked in that world, I’m always interested in curatorial decisions. I was really impressed with Jennifer [Sudul] Edwards’ artistic selections and the writing on the text panels. I knew I wanted to meether.”

As for Milad’s schedule, it varies daily. She might go to an artist’s talk, visit a museum or library, or make studio visits to learn about other artists’ processes.

What she does outside the studio changes, but her time in the studio is consistent.

“I adhere to a strict work schedule,” she says. “I didn’t always. When I had a full-time job, I’d work on art when I could find the time. Today, I work on art in my studio. And at home, I’m focused on my family.”

Inspiration often comes during a walk. The texture of tree bark that catches her eye may show up in her work, as will something she learned from the research she does in her studio. Like a French flâneur, Jackie walks to observe and be inspired.

“I try to be in the world with an open mind and open heart,” she says. “When I’m in that mode, a lot more is revealed to me. I’m a better observer. And being a keen observer is important to my success in the studio.”

5:45 AM The dogs — a greyhound and a whippet — wake my husband, Tom Boran, and me before our alarm goes off. Tom walks them while I “sleep in” until 6 AM.

6 AM I go downstairs and make a cup of matcha. When Tom comes home from his walk, he makes his coffee.
We sit in the dark together, drinking our caffeine and listening to music.

6:45 AM Things start to happen faster after a leisurely start to our day. Tiero, my 12-year-old son, comes downstairs for his breakfast. I make his lunch and Tom usually takes him to school.

7:30–9 AM I get my stuff done. I shower and make breakfast, which usually consists of a boiled egg with salt and pepper and sometimes hot sauce and a piece of toast or yogurt with homemade granola — I make it with peanut butter and chocolate chips — and lots of fruit. I keep it simple in the morning.

When I have time, I’ll take a 30 to 40-minute walk. In northeast Baltimore, we have lots of green space, old trees and a lake and park close by. Walking, whether in nature or on city streets, always resets my brain.

Once I’m home, I take care of replying to emails and other administrative things. I don’t have Wi-Fi at my studio, so I have to deal with it at home. I pack my lunch — usually leftovers from the night before. I’m lucky that my husband does all the cooking in our family.

9:30ish AM I leave for my studio, which is about a 20- minute drive from home. It’s quite an improvement over my previous commute. It could take up to an hour each way.

It is 800 square feet and housed in a 100-year-old former factory. We have old hardwood floors and big windows in a building where a lot of other artists have their studios, which is nice. Adjacent to the building are lots of trees, which is pretty unusual in the city. I have a great view of them from my window. And there’s a big park right next to the studio where I often walk. If you walk just a few miles from my studio, you’ll end up at the Maryland Zoo.

I don’t jump in to making art immediately, unless I left the studio the day before in the middle of a process. I’ll write in my journal, research, read. I’m especially interested in archaeology and history, and my reading on those subjects often influences my art.

Music plays a big part in my life, and I’m always listening while working. My husband is a musician, as well as a digital media artist, and he’s exposed me to so many genres. My eclectic playlist has everything from Puerto Rican dance music to heavy metal from the 1980s to more contemplative music.

Before I can start painting, there’s prep work to do. I prepare surfaces, cut scrap material, pick scraps of paper or fabric to use in my collages. I like working on several pieces at the same time.

I’m very active while working. I don’t just sit at my desk or an easel. I’m moving around a lot.

4 OR 4:30 PM I pick up my son from school. He’s generally stayed late to play squash or tennis.

5:30 PM Now, it’s my turn to walk our dogs. Tom makes dinner, while I do home stuff, which often includes helping Tiero with homework. And we always eat dinner together as a family. All three of us love movies and TV, and we’ll usually watch something together after dinner.

9:30 or 10 PM We both read in bed before we fall asleep, but I don’t do the kind of reading I do at my studio. Reading at home is all about escapism. I’ll read dumb fiction. Recently, it was a book called “Godslayer” — or something like that — pure escapist fantasy.

8 PM Tiero heads upstairs to read in bed. He’s usually asleep by 9 PM. Tom and I talk, catch up on our days. Because we’re such early risers, we also go to bed early.

Page Leggett is a Charlotte-based freelance writer. Her stories have appeared in The Charlotte Observer, The Biscuit, Charlotte magazine and many other regional publications.

Franklin Fifth Helena by Cynthia Talmadge

Franklin Fifth Helena is an architectural installation within the Contemporary Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown comprised of sand-painted wall panels that create a fantastical imaging of the real-life intertwined lives of the movie icon Marilyn Monroe and her psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson.

Franklin Fifth Helena


By Jen Sudul Edwards

On November 4, 2022, Mint Museum Uptown opened a new major acquisition to the collection: Franklin Fifth Helena by Brooklyn-based artist Cynthia Talmadge.

An 8-by-11-foot room built within the gallery, the installation is comprised of sand-painted wall panels and a ceiling that create a fantastical imaging of the intertwined lives of the movie icon Marilyn Monroe and her psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson. The result is mesmerizing and surprising in every way: the sand — intricately mixed by hand and meticulously applied to the surface with fine paintbrushes— mimics the precise color studies of 19th-century Impressionists and Pointillists while utilizing a simple commercial material (Talmadge often buys her sand in bulk from wedding supply companies).

The recognizable objects layer and interact to create an imagined narrative about the relationship between Monroe and Greenson, who treated Monroe at the end of her life. While very specific in her references, Talmadge also explores the complicated ramifications of the cult of personality, the patient-doctor relationship, and how all of these affect the limited power and agency granted to women in this country.

Talmadge’s gallery, 56 Henry, arranged for outside donors to support the acquisition of the work by The Mint Museum, but the on-site build was extensive and complicated. The Mint’s architect-of-record, Aubrey Springer, oversaw the construction and permit process, which required additional lights and sprinkler systems to be installed to meet code, as well as extensive coordination with the Mint’s building staff, the Collections and Exhibitions team, 56 Henry, and Talmadge — who came to Charlotte for a week in October to help with the installation.

Learn more Talmadge and her fascinating and complicated process in the video below, generously underwritten by Aaron and Marie Ligon who are helping the Mint further build a competitive and compelling contemporary art collection.

Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, is chief curator and curator of contemporary art.

Lydia Thompson in her studio

Artist Lydia Thompson at work in her home studio.

On the daily: 24 hours in the life of artist Lydia Thompson

By Liz Rothaus Bertrand

For Lydia Thompson, a working artist and professor of ceramics at UNC Charlotte, the past is always present. She is fascinated by “our abodes,” and how we interact with them. Inside these spaces, we carry our own stories, as well as those of former inhabitants and vestiges from our lives elsewhere. Thompson’s recent work focuses on issues such as forced displacement, gentrification, and what gets left behind when a home is abandoned. 

“You can see the emotions of a structure when it starts to deteriorate, especially when it’s been abandoned,” Thompson says. “You can see layers and layers of cultures that lived in there.” 

As Thompson wraps up a three-year term as UNC Charlotte’s chairperson of the department of art and art history, she’s also looking toward the future. After spending much of her career in leadership positions at universities throughout the United States, she is eager to return to a schedule with more time for teaching, studio work, and leading community workshops. 

“I really love working with the community,” she says, “because the artwork just sits in the gallery and I want to bring it alive.”  

While her weekdays have been mostly filled with administrative duties she finds time for studio work on the weekend. Take a look at a typical Saturday for the renowned ceramic artist, filled with her sketchbook, the kiln, and some thought provoking documentaries. 

Lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

5 AM: I wake up and start my day with some personal reading. The books I’m reading are always centered around projects I’m working on. Books I’ve recently read include Feeding the Ghosts by Fred D’Aguiar, Root Shock by Mindy Thompson Fullilove, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

6 AM: I check emails, maybe look at Instagram, and have two cups of coffee, followed by a full breakfast of pancakes or eggs. I reserve the yogurt and oatmeal for Monday through Friday. I keep a sketchbook nearby at all times. Because I don’t have a lot of time to work in the studio, I’m always making lists.

7:30 AM: I head down to my basement studio — I am happy to finally have a dedicated studio space — and open the kiln. Even though I know what the result is going to be, I love the anticipation. The excitement of seeing a fired piece never goes away. 

Because slabs are heavy, I work on them while I have the most energy of the day. I spend a couple of hours focused rolling out and flipping slabs. I use a template and make a cardboard model before I actually cut anything out to be sure it’s going to work when I put it together.  

While working, I usually put on the television show “Columbo” or listen to a podcast. I feel like detective Columbo is the underdog who is misunderstood. I think of myself and my career in terms of being misunderstood sometimes. People see me and never think I’m the director or the person in the leadership role at UNC Charlotte because I’m an African American woman. They’re always surprised when they find out who I am. 

I also enjoy listening to podcasts. I love Brené Brown’s “Unlocking Us,” and “Business of HYPE,” with host Jeff Staple. 

9:30 AM: If I have slabs set up, I start building the interior structure and putting the walls together. I start busting up things, making rubble so I can dip all of it in glaze and put it in the piece.  

11:30 AM: It’s time to glaze. I look at the wooden bases and check the inventory of what needs to be done before setting up. I usually glaze my pieces three or four times. 

Noon: I take a lunch break, which is usually leftovers — homemade pizza, maybe a salad or a tuna sandwich — and enjoy time in my backyard with a quick stretch and check on the garden my fiancé planted. We have green beans, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, lettuce, and green peppers.

1:30 PM: Back to the studio. I set up the piece a little more and then do some glazing. This takes time and can be tedious because I put masking tape where I want another color to appear. But it gives me the result I’m after. I glaze for an hour and a half and then let it dry.

2 PM: I get another cup of coffee that I don’t really need.

3 PM: I’m always working on two or three pieces at the same time, so it’s helpful to review where I am with projects. I go back to my sketchbook and then I repeat the cycle I began at the start of the day, except for the slab rolling. 

Studio time is so important. It’s dedicated time to work and to review work you’ve done, especially the work that wasn’t successful. Even though you want to throw it in the trash, you’ve got to look at it and say, “Why did this not work?”

6 PM: It’s time to get dinner ready. We try to eat healthy, and I walk every day after dinner and sometimes in the morning, too. I also stretch. It helps to keep your body in tune, especially if you’re doing ceramics.

7:30 PM: My fiancé and I unwind watching movies, but I’m sketching all the time — at night, when I’m in bed or while I’m looking at the TV. I look through the sketches and pull out the ones I think will work. 

We like to watch suspense, thriller, love stories, and futuristic movies. I love documentaries. With the Black Lives Matter movement in focus, I’ve been watching documentaries, such as Black Wall Street, Amend, Coded Bias, and I Am Not Your Negro about African American history. They’re tear jerkers for me because this is reality. I think we’ve come really far, but the only way we can change certain mentalities is to start when people are very young. It’s hard to understand unless you actually walk in someone else’s shoes. I just don’t want people’s eyes to roll when we continue to have these conversations because it really has impacted lives. The way you treat a certain group of people still has an impact on their life and where they are in this country. There’s just no way around it.

9:30 PM: I go to bed fairly early. By 9:30 or 10 o’clock, I’m out. I’m done.

Liz Rothaus Bertrand is a writer and editor based in Charlotte who is passionate about the arts.  

Three works of art that remind us to revere Native American culture and craft

By Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion, and Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion

Native American Heritage Day is celebrated the last Friday of November. Designated by President George W. Bush in 2008, it celebrates and recognizes the importance of Native Americans and their cultural heritage to our past, present, and future. Works of art by Native American artists encapsulate tradition, rich artistry, and stories that are passed down through generations. The Mint Museum’s Native Americas collection showcases works from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, from the nineteenth century to today. Objects from the Native Americas collection are on view at Mint Museum Randolph, as well as the Craft+Design galleries at Mint Museum Uptown. Following are three works of art by Native American artists that chronicle their roots, relationships, and environments.

Diego Romero 

Diego Romero (Cochiti, 1964–). Bowl, late 20th century, earthenware with slip paint. Gift of Gretchen and Nelson Grice. 2017.43.34


This bowl is part of an ongoing series of ceramics and prints by Diego Romero that chronicles the adventures of the Chongo Brothers, named for a characteristic hairstyle of Navajo and Pueblo people, a bun gathered at the nape of the neckthe chongo. Romero’s ceramics are impeccably hand built with local clays from the hills of Northern New Mexico.

The strong graphic design is a combination of geometric motifs related to ancient Mimbres pottery, pop art and comic-strip aesthetics. Chronicling the societal injustice rampant on and off the reservation, Diego Romero sometimes softens these difficult narratives with his cartoonish style.

Trained at UCLA, his work is included in museums and private collections in the US and Europe. In 2019 Diego Romero received the Native Treasures Living Treasures Award, given to artists who have made outstanding contributions to indigenous arts and culture. 

Diego Romero ceramics are hand built with clay from the hills of Northern New Mexico. Courtesy of Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Diego Romero’s bowl is on view at Mint Museum Randolph, in an installation featuring Pueblo ceramics from the Grice Collection. Experience more of Romero’s work through a virtual tour of his current solo exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, New Mexico, Diego Romero vs. The End of Art



Susan Point 

A collection of wooden circles surrounding a large disk with two fish carved into it

Susan Point (Canadian, Coast Salish [Musqueam First Nation], 1952–), Salmon Spawning Run, 2012, carved and painted Western red cedar. Project Ten Ten Ten commission. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Fleur Bresler, Libba and Mike Gaither, Laura and Mike Grace, Betsy and Brian Wilder, Amy and Alfred Dawson, Aida and Greg Saul, Missy Luczak Smith and Doug Smith, Beth and Drew Quartapella, and Kim Blanding. 2012.107. Art © Susan Point 2012. Image © Mint Museum of Art, Inc. © Susan Point, 2012.



The round shape of Salmon Spawning Run is based on Susan Point’s well-established spindle whorl motif, which represents the Coast Salish, a First Nations tribe. For thousands of years salmon have sustained the Coast Salish people as the primary food source. As such, salmon are highly honored and respected. Symbolizing abundance, prosperity, renewal, and fertility, the fish and their eggs are depicted here in a composition that reminds us of the importance of clean water other sustainable resources to protect our natural environment. cedar from a tree trunk found on communal land, and painted the carved wood with natural pigments.  

Susan Point’s artwork symbolizes the natural resources that are central to life of the Coast Salish, a First Nations tribe. Image courtesy of the artist

One of a group of artists responsible for the resurgence of Coast Salish art and culture, her public art projects include works at Vancouver International Airport and the Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. She has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a British Columbia Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Salmon Spawning Run is a part of Project Ten Ten Ten and is a site-specific work on view in the Craft & Design galleries at Mint Museum Uptown. 


Tara Locklear 

Tara Locklear (United States), Bobble for Bob Necklace, circa 2017, walnut, laser cut plexiglass, recycled skateboards, costume jewelry, oxidized sterling silver, and other mixed media. Gift of Porter • Price Collection. 2019.93.117


Tara Locklear’s one-of a kind jewelery is inspired by her environments and includes repurposed elements, such as wooden skateboards. Image courtesy of the artist

Tara Locklear’s jewelry is inspired by urban environments and includes repurposed elements such as pieces of wooden skateboards. She made this necklace as a tribute to her jewelry professor and mentor, Robert Ebendorf, after his retirement from East Carolina University (ECU). Its materials range from ones she explored as a student there to ones she focuses on in her current practice. Locklear earned a BFA in Small Metals and Jewelry Design from ECU in 2012. She lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a member of the Lumbee Tribe. 

Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

Summer Wheat’s monumental Foragers underscores the Mint’s ongoing commitment to women artists, perspectives historically underrepresented in museums

By Michael J. Solender

Uptown visitors meet with a fresh sensory experience this fall as Mint Museum Uptown reopens its doors following the Covid-mandated lockdown. As guests enter the towering glass-paneled Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium, they’re enveloped in warm jewel-toned light bathing the space of the new 96-panel “stained glass” installation Foragers by contemporary American artist Summer Wheat.

And while the quiet beauty of hand-drawn, collaged and placed colored vinyl panels encourage many to slow their pace and reflect in the grandeur, the imagery of strong, powerful women, taking on traditional male roles of hunters and providers, makes a clear and confident statement—women are represented on their own terms, making vital contributions.

The messaging is not accidental. Wheat’s work is deliberate in pushing back on gender objectification and unidimensional portrayal often depicted in museum collections. “Histories we tell, and the histories told to us are never really true,” Wheat says, her slight Oklahoma drawl elongating her cadence. “They’re only telling one side of the story, and there’s a lot that’s left out.”

Wheat, a mid-career artist whose work has been displayed in museums only within the past few years, is bucking a trend unfavorable to women. Just 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions at 26 prominent American museums over the past decade were of work by female artists, according to a recent study by art market information company Artnet.

Recognizing this historical underrepresentation of women’s voices on public display, the Mint is leading the way to better balance the scales. “We have a strong community partner and advocate in Wells Fargo whose values align so closely with the museum on this important social and cultural issue,” says Todd Herman, Mint Museum President & CEO, “Something  we really admire and treasure in the relationship we’ve had with Wells Fargo is they collaborate with us and push us further in ways that make the community better. Their Women Artist Fund and their support of our Foragers installation is a wonderful example of that.”

Charlotte knows Wells Fargo as a significant community partner and stalwart investor in our region’s diversity and success. Their foundation focuses on projects and innovation at the community level such as awareness and social change, increasing housing affordability, and access to capital for businesses. Last year, they contributed more than $14 million in support of projects and programing in the Charlotte region. In addition to programmatic work with quantitative measure, like the number of low-income individuals placed into safe and affordable housing, a component of the foundation’s work focuses on bringing perspectives and understanding to social issues through the arts.

“As company, we’re one of the largest small business lenders to women owned businesses,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. “With the arts and culture sector of our [philanthropic] work, we realize putting a focus on female artists helps elevate and escalate women’s voices through promoting their artwork. Not only is Foragers a significant work by an important female artist, it’s also public art that anybody can come in and access without having to pay a fee.”

It was the Mint Museum’s 80th anniversary celebration and the 2016 Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition that served as a catalyst for the formation of the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund according to Everette. “We were beginning to formulate some of the strategies on this and through the exhibition discovered there were a group of other women artists leading the way in the movement.  But they did not have gallery representation. They were not being picked up by museums after the abstract expressionist movement.”

Inspired, the Wells Fargo Foundation set about to address and help reconcile the imbalance of female representation in museum collections. “The Women Artist Fund was established three years ago, and we’ve been successful in helping to place and acquire seminal pieces of art in permanent museum collections across North Carolina,” says Everette. Other museums benefiting from the program include the Cameron Museum of Art in Wilmington, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art in Greensboro, and The Blowing Rock Art Museum in Blowing Rock.

Admirers of Summer Wheat’s Foragers, on display through September 6, 2022, will be pleased to note that through the generosity of The Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund, the artist’s work With Side, With Shoulder, a large painting where Wheat’s technique extrudes paint through wire mesh, has been acquired for the Mint’s permanent collection.

Mary Myers Dwelle, one of the Mint’s female founders would undoubtedly be pleased.

Foragers is part of the exhibition In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art that opens Oct. 16 at Mint Museum Uptown.

Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, American City Business Journals, Metropolis Magazine, Business North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer, and others. He develops custom content and communications for businesses and organizations.

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