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