Thursday, February 22, 2018

Museum Hosts Annual Black History Month Dinner and Awards Celebration

Freddie Styles and Shawnya Harris
On February 16, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia held its annual Black History Month Dinner and Awards Celebration. Artist Freddie Styles and educator Lillian Kincey received awards, and Professor John Morrow Jr., of UGA’s history department, spoke on African Americans in times of war.

Freddie Styles received the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award for his efforts as an artist. This award is given annually to honor an African American artist who has made significant but often lesser-known contributions to the visual arts tradition and has roots in or major connections to the state of Georgia. It is named for the couple who donated 100 works by African American artists from their collection to the museum and endowed a curatorial position there (held by Shawnya L. Harris) to focus on art by African American and African artists. Larry Thompson teaches at the University of Georgia School of Law and is a UGA Foundation Trustee. Brenda Thompson is the current chair of the museum’s Board of Advisors.

Styles attended Morris Brown College and has been an artist in residence at several institutions including Clayton State University, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. As a former director of City Gallery East, Styles also worked on various projects that helped promote the arts in Atlanta. His work unites the visual beauty and complexity found in gardens and nature with spiritual concepts and customs. As an active member of the Atlanta arts scene, Styles is a knowledgeable critic and advocate for many regional artists.

“This event feels like one huge embrace of love,” he said while accepting the award and thanking the Thompsons for their friendship and support. “I feel so fortunate that I can take the raw materials of my craft to create something unique. I am so surrounded by the love of people I have met through my work.”

Lillian Kincey received the Lillian C. Lynch Citation. This award goes to an African American leader who has contributed to cultural education. Ms. Lynch, who passed in 2010, was a charter member of the Athens chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a national volunteer service organization for African American women that focuses on the arts as one of its five key areas of service. Ms. Lynch was a devoted and strong advocate for cultural education and the arts in the Athens community.

Kincey is the founder and director of the Young Designers Sewing Program, which teaches fourth- through twelfth-grade girls the elements of sewing and fashion design. She specifically uses the art of sewing as a way to enhance and reinforce vocabulary development, reading and mathematics in addition to communication skills. Her students gain knowledge of the business and marketing components of the fashion design industry as well as social skills that will translate into futures of entrepreneurship. Kincey is providing a vehicle for underserved girls to gain important skills, support and potential careers for a brighter future.

The event was sponsored by: Lacy Middlebrooks Camp and Thomas G. Camp; Morgan Stanley and Todd Emily; Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher; Lucy and Buddy Allen; Mae and Louis Castenell; Bill and Lisa Douglas; Kendell and Tony Turner; the UGA Office of the President; Agora Vintage; the Athens (GA) Chapter of The Links, Inc.; Dr. Linda Bigelow; W. Travis and Susan S. Burch; Sige Burden Jr.; Mark and Janyce Dawkins; Betsy and Blair Dorminey; Bruce and Dortha Jacobson; Brenda and Ham Magill; C. Van and Libby V. Morris; Carl and Marian Mullis; Janet and Alex Patterson; Julie and Ira Roth; Dr. and Mrs. Russell Studevan; Ronald and Marty Thomas; the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity; Peg and Norman Wood; the Athens Printing Company; Barron’s Rental Center; Flowers by Posy and Trumps Catering.

Aisha Abdullahi
Communications Intern

Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Installment Added to Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden

"Tide" in the sculpture garden
From Michelangelo’s David to Giacometti’s “Walking Man I,” sculpture has long paved the way for explorations of art and the human form in distinctive ways. The newest permanent installation at the Georgia Museum of Art is no exception.

“Tide” is an androgynous, life-sized, cast-iron sculpture standing right outside the entrance to the museum’s Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden. Standing nearly six feet tall and with a glass strip inlay in its left arm, the sculpture possesses no distinguishable features other than a pair of lips and a nose.   

Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir (pronounced Stay-nun Thorens-daughter) is a sculptor from Reykjavik, Iceland, who has been exhibiting her art around the world for 38 years. Þórarinsdóttir studied sculpture from 1974 to 1980 in England and Italy. She previously exhibited her sculptures at the museum in 2011 during the inauguration of the sculpture garden in a yearlong exhibition titled “Horizons.” Þórarinsdóttir came to the museum in March of 2011 to discuss her installation.

Þórarinsdóttir says of her choice to become a sculptor, “I guess partly it was due to the fact that I come from a country that is in constant flux and formation. . . . When I started to work with sculpture it just felt like I had found my home. I was suddenly in control and connected. I could transfer my thoughts and feelings into something real and physical.”

The sculpture garden exhibits only works by woman artists, with “Tide” taking the second permanent position in the garden. The other sculpture occupying the garden is “Terra Verte #1” by Patricia Leighton, a Scottish artist.

Þórarinsdóttir is particularly thrilled about her sculpture being placed in the garden, emphasizing, “The fact that the Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden focuses only on female sculptors makes it absolutely unique. Especially considering that sculpture was for a long time thought to be a section of the visual arts that was for men only!”

The sculpture was purchased with a gift from patron Judith Ellis in honor of docent Carol Dolson. Ellis has volunteered and supported the museum, served on the board for the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art and created the Judith A. Ellis Endowment for Education. Carol Dolson is an award-winning children’s book author who graduated from UGA and lives in Athens, Georgia.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Ninth Henry D. Green Symposium Illustrates the Value of an Expert

Robert Leath (second from left) receives the Henry D. Green Award for lifetime achievement in the decorative arts

If you need to know the value of an object, then you ask an expert. Janine E. Skerry can tell you the value of silver in the early American South. Alexandra Kirtley knows the price paid for porcelain in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary Era. And Luke Zipp could give you some advice on Savannah River Valley pottery in the Antebellum South. But how does one find out the value of an expert?

Simple, monetary measurements do not result in an accurate appraisal of worn hands and trained eyes. The reward of long nights consumed in research may not be silver and gold, but hard-earned conclusions after years of patient scholarship. Individuals who dedicate their time and energy to knowledge and then choose to share their knowledge are truly priceless.

Many of these such individuals, including Skerry, Kirtley and Zipp, found their way to the ninth Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts, hosted by the Georgia Museum of Art this past weekend at the Classic Center. The event kicked off with a keynote lecture from Peter M. Kenny, titled "You Must Not Get Your Furniture Here . . . Get What You Want from N. York in the Spring." Scholars came from universities and museums all over the South to share their expertise, with novices and students welcomed at the event as well.

Ashley Callahan, Annelies Mondi, and Mary Pearse, curators of "Crafting History: Textiles, Metals and Ceramics at the University of Georgia"

This year, the theme of the symposium was “Belonging: Georgia and Region in the National Fabric.” The theme celebrated how research in the decorative arts weaves together scholars from diverse regional fields into one community. From Georgian rifles to Russian treasures, each scholar brings a unique perspective to the table. This interesting mix produced rich and profitable conversations all weekend long. Robert Leath, chief curator of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, received the Henry D. Green Award for lifetime achievement in the decorative arts on Thursday evening, while 90 Carlton: Winter hosted over 500 individuals from students to field experts back at the museum on the same night.

Joseph Litts, a curatorial intern and Beard scholar at the museum, said about the weekend, “Seeing Georgia so well represented in the talks was particularly meaningful for me, as was noting the various—and frequently surprising—ways in which Georgia and Georgians have been intrinsically involved with decorative arts, as makers, consumers, and scholars.”

We would like to thank the Forward Arts Foundation, Georgia Humanities and all of our sponsors for helping make this hugely successful weekend possible.

McKenzie Peterson
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Morning Mindfulness: Focus and Renewal in an Age of Distractions

A Morning Mindfulness session in progress with Raquel Durden
Wake up. Scroll. Post. Like. Love. Comment. Share. Repeat.

In an age of smart phones and social media, many people spend their day in a constant stream of notifications. Like a typical millennial, most days I jump right in. Social media connects us to friends and family across physical boundaries. That delightful buzz means someone wants to send an invitation, share their experience or celebrate their achievements. Other days, I tentatively test the waters. And some days, I drown. An overabundance of information keeps me up at night, when I know my body needs rest. Today, museum visitors understand the value of slowing down in our fast-paced world, and many have found that the Georgia Museum of Art offers an escape from the noise and distractions of life during Morning Mindfulness every other Friday morning.

Morning Mindfulness is a bi-weekly, instructor-led group mediation in the galleries. Organized by Sage Kincaid, assistant curator of education, this program is designed for beginners and experienced practitioners alike. Last Friday, I attended for the first time. I was nervous that my lack of experience and flexibility would prevent me from participating, but I found that the environment was not intimidating at all. Attendees chose to sit on either a stool or a meditation pillow, and people of all ages gathered in the gallery. To start the program, Kincaid described a nearby work of art and included interesting quotes from the artist.

Then, the instructor, Rebecca Shisler Marshall, PhD, began to speak soothing words in a smooth, steady tone. She encouraged attendees to focus on slowly scanning each part of their body. In this way, they minimized distractions and exercised the “muscle” of attention. In truth, I found myself tempted to check my phone, but the non-judgmental approach taught me to gain awareness, not guilt, in response to this impulse.

The practice of mindfulness originates from Buddhist principles but has more recently found a place in scientific research. From substance abuse to sleep insomnia, mindfulness may prove to be a useful treatment for many ailments. I left feeling renewed and focused, and the experience may help you in a similar way.

If you would like to try this program, the next Morning Mindfulness is February 9 at 9:30 a.m. No experience or special clothing is necessary, and meditation pillows or yoga mats are provided. Reservations are encouraged, so please contact 706.542.0448 or

If you would like to learn more about Rebecca Shisler and Centered Living, you can read more on her website or faculty page.

McKenzie Peterson
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Georgia Long Rifles: “Truly American” Works of Art

Thomas discussing "Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft"
When Sam Thomas, curator of the T.R.R. Cobb House in Athens, first heard that Dale Couch was interested in spotlighting Georgia gunsmiths at the Georgia Museum of Art, it was music to his ears. After viewing long rifles on display at the Tower of London nearly 13 years ago, Thomas knew that exhibitions of that nature were well worth exploring and that the craft in Georgia has been overlooked for too long.

During a special Tour at Two on January 24, Thomas spoke to an interested crowd of two dozen individuals about the conception of “Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft,” which is on display at the museum through February 25. He noted that while many people see the guns on display as military pieces, he knew them to be “some of the earliest known forms of southern decorative arts,” and went on to classify them as “truly American works of art.”

Part of the crowd for the special "Tour at Two" on January 24
The craftsmen of these works known by many names — mountain rifles, hog rifles, long rifles — were truly jacks-of-all-trades. The guns were used for sustenance as well as defense, and in some cases they were crafted with the intention of being presentation pieces awarded as trophies or prizes in local contents and fairs. Decorated with themes from the craftsmen’s cultures carefully and with precision, some rifles were even signed by the gunsmith himself.

Because Georgia’s gunsmithing history has long been ignored, this exhibition is an important acknowledgment of that record. Thomas took time specifically to acknowledge gunsmith Wiley Higgins, stating that Georgia can safely claim that one of their own was the “best long rifle maker in the world.” Higgins has multiple guns displayed in the exhibition, including a pistol whose nickname, “Precious,” somehow fits the firearm perfectly.

“Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft” is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum (available for sale through the Museum Shop and on, and the exhibition is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia/the MOTSTA Fund, the Watson-Brown Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How Small is the World to Phillip Bond?

Bond with some works from the museum's permanent collection 
Do you remember the last time you said “It’s a small world”? Maybe it was when you ran into an old friend at Starbucks or found out that you share an acquiantance with a friend. For Phillip Bond, a security guard at the Georgia Museum of Art, that phrase carries a larger significance.

Recently, the works of Louise Blair Daura were on display at the museum. Coincidentally, Bond has some personal knowledge of her husband, Pierre. Known for their artistry and creativity, Mr. and Mrs. Daura were both excellent artists, and we asked Bond to tell us about his connection to them.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your family? Where are you from?

I grew up in an art family. My father was a chairman at a small college in Virginia called Stratford College. He knew quite a few people in New York; he studied at Cochran University in Washington D.C., and in the 1940s he traveled to New York, where he met my mother who studied at Parsley School of Design. When I see the different artists being featured at the Georgia Museum of Art, like Clinton Hill, I get a particular connection. I feel like if my dad didn’t know him personally, he certainly would have known of them, including Pierre Daura. He was at Lynchburg College—a women’s college similar to Stratford.

What connection do you have to the state of Virginia? Were you born and raised there? Did you move because of work?

Yeah, I was raised there. My parents were in Brooklyn Heights when I was born. They had part of a studio for painters around the lower part of Manhattan. We moved to Denver when I was 2. There was a person named Harriet Fitzgerald, who graduated from Randolph-Macon Women’s College. She probably [knew] Pierre and Daura. But it was her and her sister, Ida Fitzgerald—who was the dean of Stratford College. They got my dad and mom onto the faculty.

Do you have a background in art?

I didn’t go to school for art. I have a master’s degree in Museum Education and worked for 16 years. In college, I did ceramics instead of drawing. I picked up drawing in the last few months, and with my terrible handwriting, I never thought I could draw. But being that my family is so proficient in art, I learned that my drawing skills are pretty genetic.

Did you realize that Pierre was Louise Blair Daura’s husband before now?

I think as I read the description of the show they brought her relation to Pierre Daura forward. I could also tell that she was from Virginia from her name “Louise Blair.” That’s a big Virginia name.

How does it feel to know that you knew the husband of the artist whose works are being hung in the museum? I would honestly think that it’s such a funny coincidence.

I never knew him personally, but when I see his work I feel there's a connection. There are also similarities between my mother’s and father’s work. My mom liked to do a lot of Post-Impressionist paintings, so I have a better appreciation for her work. I have them all hanging up in my house. Growing up, you see it—but to come into the museum and see other artists doing that same type of work…there’s just a feeling and a connection.

Marquan Norris
Intern, Department of Communications 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thinking Outside and Inside the Box: Clinton Hill Exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art

Clinton Hill Installation
On a typical Tuesday at the Georgia Museum of Art, Todd Rivers, Elizabeth Howe and their new intern Sara Katherine package up pieces from one exhibition to prepare for the next. The tacky snap of tape on cardboard creates a rhythm of productivity. As the sound echoes off the walls of the gallery, the building itself almost hums along to the tune. This activity is normal for the museum, as exhibitions rotate through these galleries about every three months.

Todd and Elizabeth, as preparators, organize this rotation to make sure the process runs smoothly and efficiently. Preparators work alongside curators and artists to create the best experience for museum visitors to see the works of art, which find their way to the museum. They decide how to frame, hang and label the works displayed in the museum.

Most recently, the museum’s director, William Eiland, organized an exhibition of the work of Clinton Hill, an abstract artist working in the 20th century. Rivers explained that Eiland charged him and Howe first to “transport the viewer into an alternate reality” and then to help the viewer “understand the purpose of abstraction without words.”

With these goals in mind, Rivers and Howe chose atypical methods for presenting Hill’s work. They responded to the jagged and freeform nature of Hill’s works by placing them in diagonal, tilted and even disjointed, lines. The orange lining of an artist-made box for a work titled “Duo,” an accordion-style book, inspired the complementary orange that accents the exhibition. Hill experimented with various techniques in papermaking, so techniques like glowing lightboxes and smooth wood tables highlight the three-dimensionality of Hill’s work. By understanding Hill’s “paper constructions” and not just two-dimensional paintings, this installation elevates the viewer to the realm of abstraction as an invitation to explore color, shapes and form alongside Clinton Hill.   

Soon Todd and Elizabeth will box these works back up again. The walls will be painted. The future repurposed. And a new exhibition will fill the gallery. Before then, you do not want to miss the chance to see what reality you might find in Clinton Hill’s work.

Clinton Hill is on view January 6 – March 18, 2018 in the Virginia and Alfred Kennedy and Philip Henry Alston Jr. Galleries. 

McKenzie Peterson
Intern, Department of Communications

More views from the Clinton Hill installation

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Artful Conversation: Varied Discussion on Joan Mitchell’s “Close”

Kincaid leading a discussion on Mitchell's "Close"
The first Artful Conversation program of 2018 inspired participants to get diverse perspectives and impressions on Joan Mitchell’s 1972 painting, “Close.” Sage Kincaid led this slow-looking program, inviting guests first to examine the painting with a set of opposite words in mind. Each participant received a different pair: warm/cold, expand/shrink, bold/timid, loose/tight and more. After a longer inspection of the work with these words in mind, the group discussed how the painting was filled with contradictions, making it more detailed and introspective than many had believed at first sight.

Kincaid then informed the group that color was extremely important to Mitchell over the course of her life, as she was affected by the phenomenon of synesthesia. This condition caused her to have close associations with colors, letters and emotions. Green, for example, was linked to the letter A, and white, in Mitchell’s words, “is death . . . it is absolute horror.” Other influences on the artist’s life included her proximity to the Art Institute in Chicago growing up, Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings and her proclivity for skydiving as a pastime.

Kincaid led the group in two more exercises to help inspire other realizations about the work. First, they examined distance’s effect on perspective, walking from the back wall of the room to immediately in front of the painting. One participant noted, with great fondness, that he “liked it more the further he was away,” while another stated that she instead liked how noticeable the details were when standing up close to the work. The larger group then broke up into smaller circles of three to discuss any other impressions that were brought to mind as their positions in the room changed.

As conversations wound down, and the program came to a close, Kincaid ended with a quote from the book “Joan Mitchell: Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings”: “When looking at a great painting by Joan Mitchell, in fact, nothing really needs to be said at all.”

Artful Conversation is a monthly program led by the museum’s education department that focuses on a single work or small group of works over the course of an hour. The next session will be held on Wednesday, February 14, at 2 to 3 p.m. and will focus on Frederick Carl Frieseke’s painting “Girl Sewing (The Chinese Robe).” For future dates, please see the Georgia Museum of Art calendar.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Georgia Museum of Art Provides Entertainment for Community During Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and many relatives are in town from all over the country to be with family and friends. For those looking to entertain out-of-town guests, the Georgia Museum of Art is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. With several events, tours and exhibitions on display, the museum has offerings for all ages and interests. Because both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Mondays this year, those two holidays will not affect the museum’s normal schedule. We will be open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. 9 p.m. and Sundays 1 5 p.m., with the museum closed on Mondays as usual.

In addition to our normal hours, there are several public events coming up, which are convenient and fun ways to spend some time with loved ones. Tonight, visitors can enjoy coffee, dessert and a gallery tour at the museum prior to the performance in Hodgson Hall by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, performing selections from Handel’s Messiah. You can purchase tickets for the concert at, but they are not required to attend the event at the museum. This event will run 6 8 p.m., with the tour beginning at 6:15.

Make It an Evening
Third Thursday also takes place tonight. This monthly event takes place at seven of Athens’ established venues for visual art. Full schedules are posted at, with this month featuring galleries open and events at the Georgia Museum of Art, Lyndon House Arts Center, Ciné, Hotel Indigo and the Classic Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission to all venues is free of charge, and this event is a great opportunity to visit a few Athens venues in one evening.

On Wednesday, December 27, our weekly Tour at Two begins at 2 p.m., featuring highlights from the permanent collection. Docents lead this tour every Wednesday, and it is free of charge. Come back in the future for a chance to go on tours of different exhibitions and selections from the permanent collection.

Finally, come celebrate the fact that you survived the holidays with our early January events. On January 3 at 2 p.m., assistant curator of education Sage Kincaid will lead a special slow-looking program and dialogue focused on Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close.” And January 4 brings the first session of our three-part studio workshop on abstraction with Athens-based artist and educator Brian Hitselberger. Read more about this great opportunity on our website.

Studio Workshop
We wish all of you very happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you at an event or tour soon.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Taylor Lear Joins the Team as Assistant Editor

Taylor Lear
As 2017 projects begin to wind down and the year comes to a close, the department of communications has one last addition before ringing in 2018. Taylor Lear has joined the department in the role of assistant editor. Although she is just getting started, Taylor is confident that this position will be a great fit for both her and the museum. In the midst of settling into her new job, she sat down with us to discuss her past experiences and hopes for the future.

Can you explain what you will be doing in your new role of assistant editor?

As the new assistant editor, I am joining Hillary Brown and Michael Lachowski in the department of communications, where I will be helping to produce the museum’s quarterly publication, Facet. I will also be working on all of the exhibition catalogues that the communications department produces each year, as well as taking care of wholesale orders and other various projects as needed.

What were you doing before coming to the Georgia Museum of Art?

For the past year, I have been living in New York, working on my master’s degree in Publishing at Pace University. I was a graduate assistant for my program, and I worked at W. W. Norton & Company as well. After I finished all of my coursework I decided to come back to the South, since I am from Roswell, Georgia and most of my family lives close by.

What excites you the most about working at the museum?

The thing that I find most exciting about the museum and its publications is the range of topics that I will have the opportunity to work on. From early Georgia gunsmiths and the history of craft at the University of Georgia to modern photography and historical figures, I have a feeling that the diverse subject matter will allow me to learn about and appreciate more areas than I had ever imagined.

What are your initial impressions of the museum?

I have admittedly not been here for very long, but so far all of the other employees have been extremely welcoming and ready to help me get started in any way they can. The museum itself is also world class, and I am so grateful to be able to work in this type of environment. So my initial impression has definitely been a positive one!

Are you familiar with the Athens area?

I received my bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia in May 2016, so I actually lived here for four years before moving north to start my master’s program. I’ve been gone for about a year and a half, but moving back feels like coming home.

So you are excited to be back?

Definitely! I am tremendously happy to be back in Athens. I’m excited to see what has changed in the time I’ve been gone and what is just the same. It also feels great to be back in a town that cares about college football as much as I do! Overall, I am delighted that I found the perfect job in my favorite place in the world.