“Vote for Art” winner discusses his artistic process
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, winner of the Mint’s recent “Vote for Art” competition, drew a record crowd of 450 people to the Mattye and Marc Silverman Grand Room on the fifth floor of Mint Museum Uptown on Tuesday January 8 as he shared his life story and philosophy on art.
Despite his international success, Muniz said he has never created his art for the walls of a museum, but for individuals from all walks of life. “I’m very big with museum security guards,” he told the audience – because they have a better perspective than art critics on whether people truly like his work.
Muniz, a sculptor-turned-photographer, has photographed images created from materials including wire, sugar, chocolate, children’s toys, pigments, layers of paper, and even diamonds and caviar – all of which he shared with Tuesday’s audience. But it is his decision to use objects salvaged from the world’s largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, located just outside Rio de Janeiro (and which recently closed) to re-create classic works of art that have earned him the most notice. Those images became the subject of the Mint’s Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters exhibition, on view through April 28 at Mint Museum Uptown. Muniz’s process was documented in the film Waste Land, which will screen at the Mint at 7 p.m. on January 29.
Muniz’s The Birth of Venus II (Pictures of Junk), a re-creation of Botticelli’s famous work, was the top vote-getter in the Mint’s “Vote for Art” competition last fall, and is being added to the Mint’s permanent collection.
“Art is not something that you make,” Muniz told the crowd. “It is something that flows through you, as life.”
Muniz shared more of his philosophies – and his impressions of Charlotte – in an interview after the lecture. Coming from a city of more than 30 million, he said, Charlotte feels small – but has lots to offer. “Everything is more condensed, the community is more tight, people know each other, but they also have lots of opportunities for culture,” he said.
He was pleased that the Charlotte audience provided such a strong turnout for his talk, he added, because he enjoys explaining his process. “My main mission is to demystify what I do, and what art does, too,” he said.
He encouraged Charlotteans to visit and support the Mint and other art museums. “To feel how an image changes as you approach it – that is something that you can only experience when you come to a museum,” he said. “When you share physical space with artworks, you have the chance to interact and engage with them – there is an interactive aspect to great art.”
(Above photo of Vik Muniz at Mint Museum Uptown on January 8 by Daniel Coston)
Series brings FREE documentaries to film lovers.
Did you know that you can catch a FREE movie at the Mint each month? Film is a form of art that can be every bit as inspiring as the works in our galleries. Our lineup for the next few months includes documentaries related to themes in both our permanent collection and our special exhibitions. (All screenings occur at Mint Museum Uptown). Film lovers, mark your calendars:
Tuesday October 9, 6:30 p.m.: Airmen and Adversity: The story of the “Tuskegee Airmen,” African Americans who enlisted in the Air Force during World War II. Veterans on camera relate their struggle to become an integral part of the Air Force. A segregated unity, they were assigned to escort bombers piloted by whites; in 200 missions they never lost a bomber. This documentary is by Charlottean Steve Crump, who has also created documentaries about Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden and many other subjects.
Tuesday, November 20, 6:30 p.m.: Raising Renee: The story of acclaimed artist Beverly McIver, a North Carolina native, and her promise to take her mentally disabled sister Renee when their mother dies – a promise that comes due just as Beverly’s career is taking off. The same themes that fuel the artist’s work – race, class, family, disability – propel this cinematic portrait. The film is by Academy Award nominees Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher. View it along with a visit to the special exhibition Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver, and come back on November 27 to meet artist Beverly McIver.
(December: No program)
Tuesday, January 29, 7 p.m.: Waste Land: This film follows artist Vik Muniz on a singularly ambitious project: going to the world’s largest garbage dump north of Rio de Janeiro, photographing its catadores, or trash pickers, and then collaborating with them to transform these photos into portraits created with recyclable materials. Winner of Audience Awards of Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. View it along with a visit to the exhibition Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, and don’t miss a visit to the Mint by Muniz himself on January 8.
Exhibition is part of The Mint Museum’s VantagePoint series
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Vik Muniz, a Brazilian contemporary artist who is known for transforming garbage into re-creations of world-famous works of art, is the subject of a new exhibition opening August 25 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, and running through February 24, 2013 (UPDATE: The exhibition has been extended to run through April 28, 2013).
Muniz’s re-creations of famous paintings are notable for their uncanny attention to detail and the non-traditional nature of the media he chooses. Muniz painstakingly gathers such discarded objects as tires, bolts, coils of wire, broken appliances, and soda cans, arranging them on a warehouse floor in piles and layers to create representations of iconic paintings by historical artists. After this labor-intensive process is complete, Muniz photographs the massive creation from a balcony above, thereby preserving the final appearance before the image is disassembled.
“Muniz mines the transformative power of art and representation. Muniz’s pictures enlighten us to better see the consumerist, transitory culture in which we reside and to which we contribute, by making beautiful imagery from the detritus of contemporary life,” said Carla Hanzal, the Mint’s curator of modern and contemporary art. “Muniz makes visible the refuse of consumption — the discarded, ugly, forgotten, and suppressed. The waste is transformed, through ordering and arranging, into venerated images, resulting in something entirely new and valuable.”
Muniz, born into poverty in São Paulo in 1961, has arguably become the most famous contemporary artist from his native country. His conceptual photographs are exhibited internationally, and he is represented in significant museum collections throughout the world. Beginning his art career in the mid-1980s after relocating to the United States, Muniz established a studio in Brooklyn.
“The beautiful thing about garbage is that it’s negative; it’s something that you don’t use anymore; it’s what you don’t want to see,” Muniz has said. “So if you are a visual artist, it becomes a very interesting material to work with because it’s the most nonvisual of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to hide.”
The exhibition consists of seven large-scale photographs, accompanied by comparative images of the historical works upon which they are based. It includes The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk), 2008, which is a candidate in the Mint’s “Vote for Art” project. It is one of six works by some of the world’s top artists and designers that will be on display throughout the museum. Museum visitors will cast ballots for their three favorite works from the field of candidates, and the museum will acquire the three winning works and add them to its permanent collection. Visitors to the museum during the Democratic National Convention will be offered ballots, from September 1-7; voting opens to the general public October 1 through November 9.
In another tie-in to the Democratic National Convention, the exhibition includes a work that was a gift to President Obama. Marat (Sebastião), Pictures of Garbage, 2008, was generously loaned to the exhibition by the State Department Collection of the United States Government. It is modeled after the well-known painting by Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat, and named after Sebastião (Tião) Carlos Dos Santos, a man who made his living from the age of 11 by working as a “picker,” recovering recyclables at the world’s largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, outside of Rio de Janeiro.
On September 16, visitors of all ages will be invited to experiment with Muniz’s techniques in a special Sunday Fun Day, “Recycled Masterpieces: The Art of Vik Muniz,” from 1-4 p.m. at Mint Museum Uptown. Admission is free for children and Mint members and half-price for adults ($5). The run of the exhibition will include two more special events: Muniz himself is scheduled to visit the museum on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE artist’s lecture; and the award-winning 2010 documentary film “Waste Land,” depicting Muniz’s work, is scheduled for a FREE screening at Mint Museum Uptown on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Collectively, Muniz’s photographs bring to mind ideas of ecology, impermanence, and mortality. Muniz’s photographs implicate the viewer in a consumerist, transitory culture. His photographs fuse two important strands of postmodern photography — staging and appropriation. Staging is the creation of an image through choreographing all visual components of the photograph; appropriation is borrowing imagery from a source of reference, in this case historically significant paintings from the Western tradition. The resulting photographs are both fascinating and disarming, and probe the function and traditions of visual representation.
This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum and is scheduled to travel to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee to be on display from June 14-September 22, 2013. It is the tenth installment of VantagePoint, the Mint’s contemporary art series that emphasizes new developments in recent art practice. VantagePoint X / Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters exhibition and accompanying brochure are generously sponsored by the Goodrich Foundation.
Exhibition opens April 28, concurrent with Matthew Weinstein spotlight exhibition, and is one of four new shows adding to the Mint’s 2012 lineup
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 20, 2012) – The Mint Museum has added four new exhibitions to its lineup for 2012, beginning with one opening this month that pays tribute to two treasured patrons of the local arts community, Emily and Zach Smith.
Colorbind: The Emily and Zach Smith Collection will be on view at Mint Museum Uptown from April 28 through August 12, and runs concurrently with the previously-announced multimedia Matthew Weinstein spotlight exhibition on view April 28-August 19. Colorbind consists of nearly two dozen paintings, lithographs, etchings, and drawings collected by the Smiths.
“Colorbind offers our visitors the opportunity to experience a selection of works by some of the most important modern and contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Brad Thomas, the Mint’s curator of contemporary art. “More importantly, it offers an intimate glimpse into a private collection that informs and enlivens the everyday lives of Emily and Zach Smith, two of our region’s most important cultural supporters. We are extremely grateful to the Smiths for making this work available for display at the Mint for the benefit of our community.”
For over three decades, the Smiths have tirelessly dedicated themselves to improving the cultural infrastructure of this region. Through their patronage and extensive service on various boards including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, The Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, and Penland School of Crafts, to name a few, their community investment has touched the lives of countless individuals.
This intimate display of works illuminates a decidedly more personal side of the couple’s relationship to art. One small landscape painting on view by North Carolina artist Claude Howell (1915 - 1997) was selected jointly even before their marriage. It was an auspicious beginning for lives that would be bound by a devotion to family, community, and the arts.
As for their own personal taste in visual art, the Smiths confess a shared love of color. Works by Pop artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Wayne Thiebaud play alongside geometric abstractions by Peter Halley, Sol Lewitt, and Sean Scully –– vibrant color binding each creative voice into the collectors’ unified vision. This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum.
“Colorbind and the other three exhibitions we are announcing today further the Mint’s role of serving the increasingly global community of Charlotte and beyond,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint. “From celebrating treasured local art collectors in the Smiths to tapping the unparalleled scope of our Fashion Collection to showcasing the unique and diverse viewpoints of renowned artists Vik Muniz and Beverly McIver, the Mint offers depth and range that is unmatched.”
Both Colorbind and Matthew Weinstein will be celebrated at a special event at 6:30 p.m. May 3 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street. Weinstein, a multimedia artist, will appear with Robert Goolrick, acclaimed author of A Reliable Wife. After a viewing of Weinstein’s short film “The Childhood of Bertolt Brecht,” the artist and the author will discuss the importance of the role of narrative in art. The event costs $10 for Mint members; $20 for non-members; free to students with valid ID; and includes a reception immediately following. Pre-registration is required; visit mintmuseum.org and click “Calendar.”
And the Bead Goes On
26 May 2012 – 17 February 2013
Mint Museum Randolph
May brings the opening of the next exciting exhibition from the Mint’s nationally-renowned collection of fashion. The Mint has recently renamed its Historic Costume & Fashionable Dress collection the Fashion Collection.
And the Bead Goes On pays tribute to a form of ornamentation that has been used to enliven fashion designs since ancient times. Originally restricted to the wardrobes of aristocrats and made of precious materials, beads indicated wealth and status in numerous cultures throughout the globe. Sometimes beadwork was employed on garments to convey rank, spiritual significance, or protection of the wearer. Colorful and sparkling beads appeared on articles of clothing, ceremonial dress, ritual masks, and everyday objects.
And the Bead Goes On features 20th– and 21st-century women’s fashions, which display inventive beadwork embroidery. This seemingly modern surface decoration, the variety of bead materials and shapes, and the basic sewing techniques used to embellish the works on view were developed in Paris workshops in the 18th century. Talented designers and skillful artisans collaborate to achieve dazzling fashions that are comfortable and durable. Glass beads, metallic sequins, metal filigree beads, faux pearls, and faceted crystal rhinestones hand-sewn onto the cloth impart beauty, opulence, and artful originality.
Fashion was democratized in the 1960s, and previously exclusive beaded style became available to all. The fashion industry today, while still centered in Paris, includes major designers from India, Lebanon, and Nigeria, and elsewhere. And the Bead Goes On presents evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and ensembles from the museum’s Fashion Collection, complemented with exciting new works on loan from contemporary designers. Designer names featured in the exhibition include Halston, Bob Mackie, Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta, and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.
This exhibition, organized by The Mint Museum, will open at Mint Museum Randolph concurrently with the previously-announced Heritage Gallery, a look through the Mint’s 75-year history as the oldest art museum in North Carolina.
VantagePoint X: Vik Muniz
25 August 2012 – 24 February 2013
Mint Museum Uptown
Although Vik Muniz was born into poverty in Sao Paulo in 1961, he has arguably become the most famous contemporary Brazilian artist. His conceptual photographs are exhibited internationally, and he is represented in significant museum collections throughout the world. Beginning his art career in the mid-1980s after relocating to the U.S., Muniz established a studio in Brooklyn, where he creates large photographs that mimic recognizable images borrowed from the media or historical paintings.
Muniz’s recreations of famous paintings are notable for their uncanny attention to detail and the non-traditional nature of the media he chooses. Muniz painstakingly gathers such discarded objects as tires, bolts, coils of wire, broken appliances, and soda cans, arranging them on a warehouse floor in piles and layers to create representations of iconic paintings by historical artists. After this labor-intensive process is complete, Muniz photographs the massive creation from a balcony above, thereby preserving the final appearance before the image is disassembled.
Collectively, Muniz’s photographs bring to mind ideas of ecology, impermanence, and mortality. Muniz’s photographs, which intentionally incorporate discarded materials, implicate the viewer in a consumerist, transitory culture. His photographs fuse two important strands of postmodern photography—staging and appropriation. Staging, which is the creation of an image through choreographing all visual components of the photograph; and appropriation, which is borrowing imagery from a source of reference, in this case historically significant paintings from the Western tradition. The resulting photographs are both fascinating and disarming, and probe the function and traditions of visual representation. This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum.
Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver
20 October 2012 – 6 January 2013
Mint Museum Uptown
McIver, a native of North Carolina, is renowned for her expression-filled, emotive canvases that commemorate her life and the lives of those closest to her — in particular, her mother, Ethel, who passed away in 2004, and her sister, Renee, who is mentally disabled. The exhibition celebrates the last decade of her work and highlights these two subjects, focusing solely on her self-portraits and on portraits of Renee and other family members.
McIver is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art, examining racial, gender, and social identities through the lens of her own experiences as an African American female artist. The history of her family allows McIver to contemplate and illustrate the complicated emotions that arise from these situations, including depression, frustration, tender compassion, and innocent joy.
Accompanied by an exhibition catalogue, Reflections includes numerous loans from the artist, private collections, and select museums. Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art, this exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions.