Thursday, September 14, 2017

Featured Publication: "Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel"

"Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel" is one of the newest books the museum has published. It accompanies a traveling exhibition of the same name for which we're trying to find venues (please let us know if you're interested in seeing the prospectus). The book focuses on the photography of Selma, Alabama, native Jerry Siegel, who has lived and worked in Atlanta for years but keeps returning to the place where he was born to document its places and people.

A couple of weeks ago, the Bitter Southerner and ArtsATL partnered to produce two great pieces on the book and on Siegel's work. The photo essay at the Bitter Southerner can be found here, if you missed it. Stephanie Dowda interviewed Siegel for ArtsATL here.

Our curator of American art Sarah Kate Gillespie selected the images for "Black Belt Color" and worked on creating some very deliberate pairings and groupings in the book, highlighting the narratives inherent in the images. Our director, William U. Eiland, who is from Sprott, Alabama, not far from Selma, wrote a fantastic essay for it, contextualizing Siegel's work. It also includes a transcription of a long interview with Siegel and a brief essay by the late Mary Ward Brown, a famed Alabama author and a close friend of Siegel's.
Watch the video below for another brief chat with Jerry Siegel, a look inside the book and some close-ups of some of the images it includes. Communications intern Jinsui Li created the video, and she did a great job.

"Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel" includes more than 60 color photographs, including seven fold-out panoramas. Hardcover; 123 pp.; $30 ISBN: 978-1-946657-00-8 You can order it by calling 706.542.0450 or online at the Museum Shop via UGA Marketplace and

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Art in Focus: A Brief Self-Guided Tour

An Art in Focus tour in action
Going through a museum can be intimidating. People fear that they might seem ignorant by misinterpreting a painting or worry that they lack the knowledge to appreciate a work of art. Even those who have studied art can feel lost among many works in a gallery. Monstrous canvases can engulf you. Intricately painted details can astound you. Vivid colors can overwhelm you. Docent-led tours are one way to experience art in a museum, but your schedule may not always fit with the ones we offer (every Wednesday at 2 p.m., plus one Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon a month). 
Another Art in Focus tour

To help, the Georgia Museum of Art’s education department has created a series of brief self-guided tours, called Art in Focus. Art in Focus tours are available printed on cards that visitors can pick up just outside the museum’s permanent collection galleries, on a long desk near the stained-glass window of St. George and the dragon. Each one focuses on a different topic, including African American artists, a director’s tour, women artists and a guide for kids. The education department chose these topics to highlight different collections at the museum and to introduce lesser known artists or works of art in a playful way. Each tour highlights five works of art on display that relate to the topic and includes a mix of biographical and art historical information, communicated in simple, straightforward language. Educators and curators carefully selected the works included on the self-guided tours to help visitors make connections to works of art and to lead them through the galleries.

The reopening of the permanent collection galleries after their complete reinstallation during the summer of 2016 inspired the tours. Callan Steinmann, associate curator of education, said, “I’d wanted to create self-guided materials for a while, but decided to wait for the permanent collection reopening to launch them. Now that the galleries have more wall text and contextual information to help orient visitors as they move through the galleries, people can really get a lot more out of their visit even if they don’t have a tour guide.” 

Educators and their interns worked on the content for the guides during the reinstallation, and they were rolled out recently. Steinmann says they plan to add a few new guides every year to correspond with the works being shown in the galleries and to switch up the topics of the tours. They’re currently working on a few new ideas, so visit the museum soon and keep your eyes peeled for new mini-tours. 

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Staff Spotlight: The Poetic Talents of Chevelyn Curtis

Chevelyn Curtis

If you’ve ever explored the Georgia Museum of Art, chances are that you’ve seen Chevelyn Curtis countless times. Although she often comes off as shy and reserved, those who know her know that she has a great sense of humor as well as a contagious smile to go with it. Her friendly personality allows anyone around her to feel comfortable and welcome. Chevelyn has been working at the museum for years, first as a part-time security guard and now as a full-time security guard. Recently, she created her own blog to showcase her poetry: Chevelyn was kind enough to sit down with us and give us some backstory about her writing and experiences.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I started in my sophomore year in high school, so about… 13 years? I don’t write as much as I used to though. I’m always busy.

Reading your poetry, we see that a few of them seem to revolve around the theme of love. Do you often hesitate to post something so intimate online?

Not really. This is actually the first time that I’ve actually posted anything online. I’ve entered contests—I never won—but every poem that I sent in has been published in a book. I’m pretty used to my work being out there for the public to see.

Some people use poetry as an outlet. There’s no denying that putting your heart on a sheet of paper can result in so much relief, whether emotional or mental. Is that why you write?

Yes. I was teased a lot so, I reached a breaking point and almost thought about committing suicide. I found writing—and the fun thing is that it was a school assignment, and I ended up liking it. I was able to write off the top of my head. I didn’t need to think about it. 

On your site, the first thing you see is a headline that reads: “My Love for Poetry Will Hopefully Inspire You in Some Way.” If you desire that readers take something away from your writing, what do you want it to be?

I’m hoping that it’ll inspire people to write more and express themselves. If my poem could help them in any way, I’m all for that too. Actually, I do have a poem about being teased that I will be posting soon.

Does being a security guard for the Georgia Museum of Art fuel your artistic side? I imagine that poets would love to be around beautiful art because both serve to tell stories.

Honestly, no. I do like the paintings we have here, but they don’t really inspire me or fuel me to write.

Is it hard for you to be so vulnerable on paper and then to upload your innermost thoughts for even strangers to see? Does that kind of courage come naturally to you? Or is it something you had to work toward?

I’m definitely still working on that. I’m very shy and I’m like… the quiet one. Unless I’m comfortable around you. Then I’m a completely different person. This takes a lot of courage because it took me a long time to actually act on this. I’ve been thinking about making a blog for the longest. 

In your biography on your website, you thank viewers for making your dreams come true. What exactly are your dreams and aspirations?

Well, my main goal was to publish a book of my poems. However, I kept hitting roadblocks with that because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get it done and I didn’t have the money for it anyway. So that’s when the blog idea popped into my head. But my goal, in short, is to just get my poetry out there. The only downside to writing my own book would be the book tours and reading in front of people. I hate public speaking.

On your blog in your introduction page, you mention that you’ve endured bullying. Thankfully, you found writing. What advice do you have to people who also endure hardships that you’ve endured?

Well, I couldn’t escape harassment because I got it at school and at home. I didn’t have an outlet, and one day I told my mom about the assignment and she just told me to write what I felt. Doing that really helped, so I would say, “find an outlet.” You can write, draw, or sing… Do whatever you can to get it out.

Marq Norris
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jason Hubbard Is Making a Living Work of Art

Jason Hubbard poses in his garden with the Horace Farlowe sculpture

For those who have walked along the south side of the Georgia Museum of Art over the past years, you might have noticed a dead and forgotten patch of land transform into a lush and calming garden niche. At the heart of that transformation is Jason Hubbard, a true gardener if there ever was one. He has been digging in the dirt for more than 18 years, and it’s apparent he tends to his gardens with the utmost care, making sure to meet the specific needs of each plant. You can often find him in a broad-brimmed, straw hat, enveloped in his garden searching for weeds or taking a break to talk plants with home gardeners who pass by.

At one point, Jason only managed the giant circular pots by the main entrance, but 4 years ago he noticed an abandoned space just around the corner and took the initiative to rehabilitate it. The first step was to remove a dying dogwood and nurse another back to health. Then he began transferring perennials from other locations on campus where the foliage might have been too thick. Over the years, he has developed the garden with minimal budget, only receiving funds for nursery-born plants last fall. For Jason, little gardens like this one are his opportunity to contribute the greatest good. 

As a conscientious gardener, he keeps the space mostly organic except for a well-considered dose of pesticides on occasion. With the prevalence of concrete in mind, Jason has made a pollinator habitat so that vital pollinators like bees, wasps and hummingbirds have a sort of oasis. He considers what kinds of birds and insects certain plants cater to, and when discussing the give and take of pesticides with him, it becomes evident that the garden is a delicately balanced environment. That balance was enhanced this past summer with the installation of a marble sculpture by Horace Farlowe, a past UGA professor who made significant contributions to the growth of the sculpture department (you can find out more about that sculpture here). Jason’s garden proved to be an ideal location for the sculpture’s debut at the museum. He coordinated with the concrete pourers for the optimal location, and in the spring he will have the opportunity to uproot and reorganize plants to frame the new centerpiece.

Ben Thrash interviewing Jason Hubbard
Once just a patch of mulch, a beautiful garden now accompanies the museum’s southern entrance. It is with the utmost gratitude that we thank Jason Hubbard for his care and initiative in transforming the space. What used to be a common and forgettable corner has now become activated and lively, so if you happen to see a man in a straw hat when you walk by, be sure and stop to say thanks!

Benjamin Thrash
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 17, 2017

From the Publications Office: Using the Study Centers

When you're reading a book, you probably don't think too much about where all the materials in it came from or how they were compiled. A large part of the process of creating something visually exciting for you to hold in your hands consists of tracking down material to illustrate the final result. Sometimes (a lot of times, in fact) that means contacting museums and other lenders to get them to supply high-resolution photographs of works of art. But what if you have a book that's mostly text? How do you give it some visual flair? A lot of that is up to the graphic designer, and the Georgia Museum of Art works with many talented freelance designers, who have won countless awards for their projects with us. In the case of "Louise Blair Daura: A Virginian in Paris" (which opens at the end of September and has a large book to accompany it), we were lucky enough to have the Pierre Daura Study Center close at hand.

The study center includes an amazing trove of material produced by both Pierre Daura and his American wife, Louise Blair Daura, the focus of this upcoming exhibition. The book will include her letters home from Paris to her family in Virginia written from 1928 to 1930, giving wonderful and witty insight on the art and social scene of the time. It also makes use of family photographs in the archive, Louise's creative projects (valentines, for example) and even passports, as in the snapshots here. We wanted some of the script font in the book to resemble Louise's actual signature, which can be small or blurry or written in an abbreviated form in the letters. A passport is a perfect place to get a nice, clear signature.

Other times, as with the image above, Louise makes reference in her letters to a drawing, so we needed to pull the actual letters and scan them to extract her sketches. Going through these pages and family photos gives one an even better feel for the daily life of these people than reading about them in a book, but we're doing our best to capture that feel for everyone who reads the final product.

The contents of the archive are listed through the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, online. To make an appointment to use the archive, you can call the museum's main line, at 706.542.4662 or email

Thursday, August 10, 2017


A new UGA student at orientation

As usual, the museum's department of communications had a busy summer. While much of UGA slows down from May to early August, and a good parking space is easy to find in downtown Athens, the university also runs orientation for the thousands of freshmen, transfer students and graduate students who will start classes next week. We want them at least to know the museum exists, so we show up and work a table at every orientation session: 15 for freshmen, 4 for transfer students, 1 for graduate students, 1 for international students and 1 for new faculty.

Our lovely volunteer with our Snapchat poster

We spent much of the summer hauling around our red wagon filled with copies of Facet, a tablecloth, a pop-up banner and our brand-new trifold brochure aimed at attracting people to the building (you can look for the latter at the Athens Welcome Center, the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau and welcome centers around the state). Some times were slow, and we had a chance to observe the latest in 18-year-old fashion or enjoy some quality time with Corny the corn snake, who accompanies the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to some sessions. We made new friends, both among the new students and among our fellow tablers. Other times were busy, and we got to deliver our spiel about the museum to dozens of people streaming by our table. We hope some of it sunk in. If students can remember that there's a museum on campus, we're doing our job.

We also decorated a dorm room, for the third year in a row. University Housing puts a call out for different departments on campus to spruce up its tour rooms during orientation, so they don't look as spartan. We always have fun trying to make our room look lived in but attractive, and our placement in Building 1516, which is just down the street from the museum, helps us make our case that students should get out and experience everything UGA has to offer. We're eager for the start of the new academic year, and with students moving into the dorms this week, we've already seen an uptick in foot traffic. We know we're not the first to say it, but welcome, new folks!

The museum's dorm room in Building 1516

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Morning Mindfulness Program Is a Zen-sation

A Morning Mindfulness class taking place in the galleries

A monk, a professor of human development and family science and an assistant curator of education walk into an art gallery. While this scenario may sound like the introduction to an atrocious joke, it has happened at the Georgia Museum of Art as part of a program called Morning Mindfulness that recently received a grant from the Hemera Foundation.

Morning Mindfulness is organized by the education department at the Georgia Museum of Art. The secular program leads participants on a journey through different contemplative techniques including mindfulness, meditation, reflection and yoga, all of which take place in the museum’s galleries. No experience is necessary, no special attire is needed, and yoga mats and meditation pillows are provided. The event is free and open to the public, although reservations are encouraged (at 706.542.0448 or

Each program is led by an experienced instructor who might incorporate specific works of art or simply focus on a specific contemplative practice. Morning Mindfulness participants include university students, professors, community members and museum staff. Each program attracts around 20 to 40 people, including both new faces and regulars.

The program was started in 2015 in collaboration with Dr. Jerry Gale, a professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and has since grown and also received state and national attention, recently winning the 2017 Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries Education Program Award.

The Hemera Foundation is a philanthropic organization interested in supporting human growth and well-being. It generously provides funds to programs and research that relate to the intersection of contemplative practices and the arts, like Morning Mindfulness. The grant the museum received was part of a cohort of grants the Hemera Foundation provided to museums in an effort to support the growing number of museum programs nationwide that incorporate contemplative practices into their educational programming. At the Georgia Museum of Art, the grant will help support current the mindfulness program, as well as additional workshops and events. It will also send museum staff to a conference in September facilitated by Hemera. The conference brings together museum professionals from across the United States who run mindfulness programs to share best practices and future opportunities for contemplative art education.

Assistant curator of education Sage Kincaid, who manages the program and will attend the conference in September, said, “The main goal of Morning Mindfulness is to encourage museum visitors to slow down and take time to focus on being in the present moment. By spending uninterrupted time in the museum’s galleries, many participants find that they have more satisfying experiences with works of art, feel calmer and learn techniques that are useful in our busy lives.”

If you find yourself stressed during the school year due to classes, work or whatever else is going on in your life, do yourself a favor and check out Morning Mindfulness, which starts up again on August 25 at 9:30 a.m. It could be just the break you need.

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Acquisitions: Sculpture by Horace Farlowe

Horace Farlowe, "Tennessee Cut."

In 2013, the Georgia Museum of Art acquired “Tennessee Cut,” a pink marble sculpture measuring 28 by 23 by 20 inches carved by artist and former University of Georgia professor Horace Farlowe (1933–2006). Previously tucked into a hidden garden at the UGA Hotel and Conference Center, where Scott Simpson of the Office of University Architects noticed it, the sculpture has found new life at the museum thanks to Robert Jarrell (b. 1963), an artist and former student of Farlowe’s; deputy director Annelies Mondi; preparators Todd Rivers and Elizabeth Howe; and Rebecca Salem, an undergraduate preparatory intern.

Simpson emailed Mondi to suggest that the Conference Center might be willing to transfer ownership of the sculpture to the museum, which it did. Mondi, who also took one course with Farlowe, and remembers him as a “patient and mild-mannered human being,” then consulted with Jarrell to restore and display the sculpture in a way that captured Farlowe’s intention for the piece and celebrated his legacy at the university. Located in a small garden to the right of the side entrance of the museum, the sculpture now faces the Lamar Dodd School of Art, connecting Farlowe’s professional and artistic careers and echoing his conviction that “Life and Art are the same thing.”

“Tennessee Cut” is part of Farlowe’s window series, so it was important that the piece be placed at a height to allow both adult and young visitors to look through to the other side, as well as that it frame a good view from either side. The sculpture now rests on a smooth, square concrete plinth poured carefully by Dave Lawson of the Facilities Management Division. Farlowe worked mostly in stone, and his sculptures, towering up to 17 feet tall, can be seen in Spain, Germany, Italy, Scotland and all over the United States. According to Jack Kehoe, one of his colleagues in the art department, the prominence of the marble-carving program at the university can be attributed to Farlowe’s skill and passion as an artist and teacher.

Horace Farlowe, untitled.

Farlowe’s work appeared in several exhibitions at the museum during his lifetime, including “City on a Hill: 20 Years of Art at Cortona” (1989). The museum also owns a small untitled example of his work, also in marble, that was a gift of Margaret Leary (GMOA 2016.250). Farlowe gave Leary the sculpture after they worked together on a site-memorial entry to commemorate the World Trade Center towers.

Martha Wilde
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Art Adventures Inspires Future Designers

Sage Kincaid, assistant curator of education, works with a YWCO group on a gallery tour during Art Adventures.

Every Wednesday and Thursday this summer, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., children came to the Georgia Museum of Art to get inspired by the work of designer Giò Ponti on a 90-minute journey to Italy. They were participating in Art Adventures, the museum’s annual free summer program. Art Adventures runs every June and July, encouraging focused engagement with works of art and a studio art activity that builds on children’s experiences in the galleries. Day camps, day cares and community centers take advantage of it, bringing about 600 elementary-school-aged children to the museum in the summer months.

Art Adventures has a different theme every year. This summer, informed by the exhibition “Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design,” it focused on modern design and how we use design in our everyday lives. Children took an interactive tour of the exhibition, led by museum education staff and interns. Examples of gallery activities included looking for elements of art in Ponti’s designs, imagining how furniture functions in different settings and thinking about their own style by listening to examples of Italian music while learning about the work.

Art Adventurers design and create their tiles.
After the tour, kids created their own works of art, using their new knowledge of art and design. Thinking about the patterns and colors they saw in the exhibition for inspiration, they tried out different colors and shapes. and practiced using new art materials. Once they felt ready, they created colorful patterns on a ceramic tile using tissue paper and a clear glaze. Students cut and tore tissue paper and layered it to explore patterns, transparency and colors on the tile. When they finished, they each had a beautiful tile with a unique design.

An Art Adventurer with her finished tile.
“I’m always so inspired by kids’ creativity and their imagination.” said Sage Kincaid, the museum’s assistant curator of education. “Our goal for this program is to engage children with the exhibition and help them feel connected and interested in not just the works of art and the museum, but also their own and classmates’ reactions and thoughts about what they are seeing.”

Jinsui Li
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Spotlight on Studio Workshops: Q&A with Instructor Brian Hitselberger

This September, Athens-based artist and educator Brian Hitselberger will be leading "Studio Workshop: Drawing," a four-part studio-based course that introduces participants to contour, value, simplification and detail, drawing on-the-fly and more focused, detailed methods of mark-making. In advance of the course, Brian answered a few of our questions related to the workshop, art and artistic inspiration.

Artist and educator Brian Hitselberger.
1. What are some of your favorite works at the Georgia Museum of Art?

It's hard to choose. I have my old standbys – I always visit the Alice Neel portrait, the huge Joan Mitchell painting, and of course Radcliffe Bailey's exquisite assemblage, but the works-on-paper galleries generally have something exciting going on. On one of my most recent visits, I was totally mesmerized by the Michael Ellison show Urban Impressions. The density of his prints, the abstraction of every aspect of his complex compositions, and his incredible color sensibilities blew the top of my head off! I became an instant fan.

2. How does a visit to the museum inspire you as an artist?

Something that is so often glazed over in discussions about art or interviews with artists is the fact that a studio practice can be very isolating. I'm fortunate enough to live in a town full of committed makers and to work as a professor at a college teaching young artists. And yet, and yet....

… a visit to the Georgia Museum, or any museum for that matter, always reminds me that I am part of a lineage. That making things, thinking through ideas with material, or expressing oneself without words is a human endeavor: one that transcends not only identity, but time itself. It can help me return to my own studio with a greatly renewed sense of purpose. 

3. What are some of the pieces from the museum's collection that you have selected to use in the studio workshop "Abstraction", and why did you choose these?

Part of our workshop will focus on the series of studies that Elaine de Kooning made in her sketchbook of Greek and Roman statuary, which are held in the museum's archives. These small drawings lead up to the execution of her painting “Bacchus #81,” a painting which (in a sense) draws strength from these initial explorations in order to “play” on a larger scale. It's illuminating to see the drawings on which this painting was based, in that we are able to plot the workings of the artist’s mind directly. Additionally, I think seeing this series opens students to the notion that abstraction is a process, a way of thinking through a visual idea: it can be a tool. 

4. Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I'm working on show that will open this coming August at {Poem88} gallery in Atlanta. The show, titled “Counterspell,” brings together a group of my paintings with a large-format installation on one of the gallery's walls. The paintings are based off of textiles – quilts, specifically – and use collage as a way to “patch” other elements and meanings into their compositions. The wall piece will bring together drawings, found objects and ceramic sculpture with the work of seven other artists whose work I greatly admire. I'm using their small-scale pieces as elements in a large work of my own making. In this way, it's a kind of collaboration. The underlying theme of the show is a desire for safety and the various means we have available to us as artists to protect ourselves from fear. If you're interested in learning more, I actually put together a website for the project that can be seen here:

5. What do you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?

This is always a challenging question to answer because the list could be so long and all over the place. I have a few "house gods," as I refer to them – artists whose work will always get my gears turning. Pierre Bonnard, James Whistler, Sheila Hicks and Felix Gonzales-Torres are some of my all-time favorites. But I also have rotating interests that become very important to me, depending on what kinds of projects I'm engaged in at the time. Right now I'm looking quite a bit at Gee's Bend quilts, Japanese Boro textiles, and a lot of found object sculpture. Later this summer, I hope to travel to Pasaquan, St. EOM's enormous outdoor installation in south Georgia, for some color inspiration. I also think I've played the new Slowdive and Perfume Genius records about ten thousand times in the studio this summer. 

6. What advice or words of wisdom have influenced you as an artist?

I think inspiration for new work comes most often out of the process of making itself. The last few years for me have been about allowing the unexpected events that happen in my studio to become the seedbeds for new projects. I also reflect a lot on the words of the great Patti Smith. To paraphrase: Don't worry about making things that are new. Focus on making things that are good.

"Studio Workshop: Drawing" will run Thursdays, September 7 through 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Artists from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend, as these museum sessions are designed to be equally engaging for enthusiastic beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. All sessions will use the museum’s collection as source material, including works not regularly on display. Participants will be introduced to brush and ink washes, ink pen, colored pencil and hard and soft graphite. The cost of the course is a $15 materials fee, which will cover all necessary supplies for the four sessions. Space is limited; call 706.542.8863 or email to register.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Giò Ponti's Functional Designs Anticipated the Tiny House Movement

Giò Ponti, hotel bedroom for the Ninth Triennale, Milan, 1951. Image: Giò Ponti Archives

If you’ve ever flipped through late night television, you might have come across the show “Tiny House, Big Living” on HGTV. In one episode, Trevor and Mary, a young couple from Dayton, Ohio, explores the multifaceted features of their new tiny home. The legs of a table double up as scratching posts for their cats, and a rope bridge made with their furry companions in mind runs from the couple’s shelving unit to the stairs. Lofted beds are placed towards the top of the home, barely an arms length away from the ceiling. Every part of the architecturally inventive house serves more than one purpose, the floorboards included. At the end of the episode, Trevor gets down on one knee as he procures a diamond ring from inside one of the stairs (which, of course, doubles as a storage unit) and proposes to his girlfriend Mary.

The Tiny House movement is, according to some, a social one. People are seriously downsizing for many different reasons: a desire to live simply, to go on more adventures, to make environmentally conscious decisions, and to cut down living costs. The average tiny house is 100 to 400 square feet — that is about 2,200 square feet smaller than the average American home. People like Mary and Trevor are getting on board with this trend and making drastic changes in the way they approach their living space. 

It could be argued that Giò Ponti’s interior designs are precursors to the Tiny House innovations of the 21st century. On view here at the Georgia Museum of Art until September 17, “Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design” exhibits Ponti’s knack for creating sleek, functional designs that seem to expand space and transcend time. 

Ponti, like tiny house builders, understood the concept of less is more. His minimalistic designs are nonetheless as visually appealing as ornate antique furniture; in fact, his minimalism is what appeals to most people. The modern aesthetic of smooth lines, clean design and functionality resonates with homebuyers today. This might explain why the tiny house trend has flourished in the last few years. The appeal of Ponti’s work and tiny houses is like that of a multipurpose tool: countless functions in one object. 

Tiny house sensibilities manifest in pieces such as a coffee table he designed in 1937, made of burr-walnut-veneered wood, walnut, and glass. Perri Lee Roberts, author of the comprehensive essay found in the exhibition catalogue, writes of the piece that the “glass top serves an aesthetic purpose, creating a sense of relative weightlessness and helping blend the piece into its surrounding while providing a proper surface for the functional requirements of the table.” Not only does Ponti’s design of the table, with its smooth, transitional quality that could expand a space (potentially a very small space, such as in a tiny house), compare to the design tactics implemented by tiny house designers, Ponti also proved his resourcefulness by employing only Italian materials on this piece. 

Giò Ponti, coffee table, ca. 1937. Made by Giordano Cheese. Image: Wright

Another innovation that stands out as particularly apt — and this is a trend that carries into the design of many tiny houses — is Ponti’s “organized wall.” Exhibited in instances such as the hotel bedroom Ponti designed for the Ninth Triennale in 1951, this feature makes storage space integrated as well as aesthetic. For Ponti, shelves offered a way to merge interior and exterior spaces when placed flush against windows — a tactic that makes outside foliage or decor accessible and also creates fascinating shadows that transform depending on the time of day. Organized walls, and the pleasure they bring aesthetically as well as the additional storage space they offer, fit seamlessly into both Ponti’s designs and tiny house developments. 

Tile and chair designed by Giò Ponti.
Image: Daici Ano
Ponti’s affinity for striking elements is not limited to just furniture; in fact, some may argue that his most vibrant work is that of his ceramic tiles. These tiles, patterned with intricate motifs, create the illusion of space in an area that lacks just that. The blue and white tile shown right employs optical elements that shift the eye around the room, creating the sense of an enlarged area, while the colors echo the serenity of Santorini. Ponti was a master at making the most out of the space he was given, and were he alive today, he surely would be enthralled by the challenge of crafting a tiny house.

Roberts writes that Ponti wished to bring order to a chaotic world ravaged by WWI and that “the key to this sacred mission was the home, which Ponti saw as the epicenter of family life… His concept of the home encompassed more than its physical structure, extending to include interior design, furniture, furnishings, decorative objects, and art. Ponti regarded the design of furniture and decorative art as equivalent artistic undertakings to architectural design; whenever possible, he planned domestic and public spaces as integrated ensembles.” Ponti’s approach to design transcends both time and location, and his lasting impact on architecture and interior design becomes manifest especially when considering living arrangements such as the tiny house. The next time insomnia strikes, make HGTV your first stop on the train of late-night shows — see if you notice pieces reminiscent of Ponti and his innovations as the tiny house builders and owners look to make the most of their new small spaces. 

Sarah Dotson and Stephanie Motter
Communications Interns

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Athens Middle-Schoolers Interpret Art through Hip-Hop and More

If you visited the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia on a Tuesday afternoon this June, you might have heard someone rapping about women’s empowerment. The museum’s lobby can be quiet during the summer, when UGA’s enrollment is much lower than during the spring and fall semesters, but the middle-schoolers from Camp DIVE have been doing their best to fill it with life and noise.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE

Camp DIVE — which stands for discover, inquire, voice, and explore — provides local, underserved youth in Athens with a month-long free learning experience. This partnership among the Clarke County School District, the University of Georgia College of Education and the Athens-Clarke County community is meant to combat summer slide, or the tendency for students to lose progress made during the previous school year. Camp DIVE not only serves Athens youth, but also allows UGA students to engage with the community and gain hands-on experience working with children.

 The museum’s partnership with Camp DIVE has focused on art and poetry. About two dozen middle-school students enrolled in the camp visit the museum every Tuesday to make connections between visual art and creating their own literature. Associate professor Ruth Harman and assistant professor Kevin Burke, both in the UGA College of Education’s department of language and literacy education, have been working with museum educators and local poets to create an enriching experience for their young students. Burke’s graduate students in language and literacy have been working directly with the campers.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE

As the students and their instructors arrive at the museum, the lobby fills with happy voices. Half of them head to the galleries to draw inspiration from the works of art on display there while the others work on their projects. One group of students has created a rap about women and empowerment; another student has painted her own version of Everett Shinn’s early-20th-century painting of a ballerina.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE
The museum’s curator of education, Carissa DiCindio, said, “We hope that the middle school students are inspired by the works of art and make connections to their lives through art making and poetry. We want them to feel at home in the museum.”

Mariah Parker, a graduate student in UGA’s linguistics program who both studies and performs hip hop (under the name Lingua Franca), also emphasized how important the program is with making students comfortable in the museum, saying, “This is a casual introduction to a space that can be very intimidating.”

The program is supported by the Aralee Strange Fund for Art and Poetry endowment, created by Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher, longtime residents of Athens who are both actively involved in their community. Most recently, they helped make the documentary film “Athens in Our Lifetimes,” which covers the city’s evolution over six decades. To honor their friend Aralee Strange, they provided the endowment to fund the Art and Poetry project to cultivate an appreciation for the arts in Athens youth.

Aralee Strange was no stranger to the arts. She was an illustrious poet, filmmaker and playwright who moved to Athens in 2007 after developing her career in New York and Cincinnati. Strange founded the monthly open poetry forum Word of Mouth, which welcomed local Athenians and strangers alike to participate in a night of poetic prose. Strange died in 2013 at the age of 69.

The idea behind the project is that its students will create poetry, performance and visual art that reflects their community and investigates connections among these art forms. It also serves as an experiential-learning initiative for UGA students, connecting them with the Athens community and letting them see how art fosters literary development and civic engagement in youth.

The campers will present and display their work at the museum tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at a reception that is free and open to the public.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern

Thursday, June 22, 2017

From the Publications Office: Art of the Press Check

Spreads from "Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel" at press check with Friesens, Canada.

In an ever more digital age, fewer and fewer people understand the printing process and how, exactly, it works. Press checks — where a representative from a publisher tweaks and approves every page in a book coming off a printing press — are less common than they used to be, but for color-critical publications (like exhibition catalogues) they can make a big difference. I traveled all the way up to Altona, Manitoba, Canada, recently to do a press check at Friesens, a printer that the museum has used for years. Friesens prints a lot of art books, but the Georgia Museum of Art’s latest publication, “Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel,” needed some special care.

Most people don’t realize that, even when you get proofs from a printer, those pages aren’t always produced on the same machine that will print the final job. Soft proofing, or proofing on a computer screen only, isn’t recommended for color-critical publications. “Wet proofs,” which do come off the actual press, are less common and much more expensive. Even then, printing is as much an art as a science. Friesens has a color profile that graphic designers apply both to individual images and to the final files for a book, which, in theory, tells the computers that run the press exactly how to match the intended color. But specific papers, even white ones, can have a slightly different tone—one that’s a little more blue or more red—and those tiny differences can affect the final result. The Epson proofs that the publisher typically receives to check color try to match the effects of paper tone, but they’re run on what is essentially a big, fancy inkjet printer.

The big four-color press, on the other hand, stretches the length of a room, with, in the simplest cases, one plate each for cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink (watch this one-minute video to see how it works). Together, those four colors can produce a big section of the visible spectrum, but they can’t capture everything, and sometimes tinkering is necessary on press to match the Epson proofs to the client’s satisfaction.

It’s more complicated than just getting a single image right, though. Books are printed in signatures, or chunks of pages divisible by four, and “Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel” was printed in 16-page signatures, meaning usually groups of 16 images at a time. The larger the signature, the more financially efficient a book can be to print because it means fewer sheets run through the press.

Cyan, magenta, yellow and black can be tweaked from levels of 0 to 100 in columns that run the vertical length of the large sheet of paper. At the same time, too much ink on the page will look muddy, not accurate and it won’t dry, either. If one image out of 16 has sections that seem to have too much red, you can’t just reduce the magenta for the entire press sheet, or other images may be negatively affected. Getting every image on the sheet to reproduce as accurately as possible can require creative thinking as well as a good eye for color and a knowledge of how the process works.

Hillary Brown
Director of Communications

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan

F. Townsend Morgan, Untitled (harbor scene), n.d., etching on paper
The exhibition “Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan,” curated by independent scholar Stephen Goldfarb, begins this Saturday, June 17, and will be on view through Sunday, September 10. The exhibition highlights the work of F. Townsend Morgan, who created many prints of the places he lived in and the objects around him. Forty prints of sailboats, architecture and natural beauty will be on display.

Morgan F. Townsend and family in Key West, Florida. ca 1940.
Image: State Archives of Florida
F. Townsend Morgan grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and studied at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. The title of the exhibition comes from a writing of Morgan’s, who wrote that he pursued art as an avocation—or hobby— which eventually turned into employment. He developed his style while living in Pennsylvania with Joseph Pennell, a fellow artist and friend of famed artist James McNeill Whistler. After the Great Depression, Morgan focused on perfecting his craft and turning it into a career to support his family. He found work in New Deal art programs for several years; Morgan moved to Key West through a Federal Relief Agency and worked as director of the Key West Community Art Center in 1941. Morgan eventually moved to Annapolis, Maryland, and received the post of artist-in-residence at St. John’s College from 1948 through 1950.

Morgan’s prints focused on the architecture and nature of the many places he lived and visited including Maryland, Orlando, and Louisville. He especially enjoyed making prints of sailboats, which particularly caught the eye of Goldfarb, who said, “Morgan’s boats are in a tradition that, at least to my eye, goes back to Turner by way of Joseph Pennell and Whistler. I particularly like the dark ships against the water and atmosphere, which is rendered with very little ink, so the original color of the paper shows through. A sort of ‘less-is-more’ aesthetic.”

F. Townsend Morgan, "Covered Bridge," n.d., etching on cream paper

Morgan achieved many accomplishments in his life; he was chosen to make the stamp for the tercentenary celebration of Annapolis and he won several awards for his prints. His works can be seen today in collections at the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress and the Treasury Department of the United States. He had several exhibitions during his life, but “Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan” is the first exhibition to focus entirely on his work since his death. Goldfarb hopes that this exhibition teaches visitors that many artists of the past deserve to be remembered and that they are a part of history. Goldfarb said, “Many of the artists that I am interested in did not join the movement to abstraction and other modernist movements after World War II and for that reason have been, like Morgan, all but forgotten by art historians, as well as the collecting public. Exhibitions like this one could reverse that trend.”

Programs related to the exhibition of Morgan’s work include a film series focusing on Key West (“Reap the Wild Wind,” “Key Largo” and “Matinee”), starting June 22; 90 Carlton: Summer, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 for nonmembers) on July 28 at 5:30 p.m.; and public tours on August 23 at 2 p.m. and September 10 at 3 p.m. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern