There are five current special exhibits at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), which I visited with my grandmother on Mar. 12. When we walked in, I expected there to be a fee; however, all of these exhibits are free to the public, including the permanent exhibit in the main building. We walked down the stairs, and right in front of us was Saylor and Morris: Their World is not Our World, a video created by videographers Susannah Saylor and Edward Morris. The piece covers how animals interact with humans in Oostvaardersplassen, The Netherlands. Edward Morris narrates the piece and describes Susannah Saylor as almost a goddess, which makes it so entrancing.
The second piece we viewed, The Audubon Experience, was in the far back of the gallery. This is also a video experience, but it uses more illustrations than raw images. It includes the bird calls from each of the included species in their natural habitats and in their life-like forms. The exhibit also includes pieces by John James Audubon, who is known for his realistic documentation of birds. This exhibit had an interactive portion where the viewer could watch videos and learn about how and why Audubon chose to document these creatures. On the way out, my grandmother and I stopped to view the photos included in the Within the Frame exhibit, a collection of photographs from a variety of artists. All the images create a visual effect with borders captured in the picture in addition to the frame itself, and that is what makes each piece unique. I think this is my favorite because each piece is individually dynamic and much different from the rest.
Ultimately I did not get to view the fifth exhibition, Park Pictures, because of time. However, there is still time to see all of these pieces; both Within the Frame and Their World is Not Our World are on display until July 7 and the other pieces are available for viewing until Sept. 15 in the East Building of the NCMA.
In addition to these wonderful special exhibits that NCMA has to offer, visitors should not forget about the abundance of art the museum has outside. With spring—and, happily, a bit of sun and warmer temperatures— coming slowly but surely to North Carolina, the art museum is a great place to get outside and not only enjoy nature but also some really fantastic art pieces.
One of my favorite installations is the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky, which is a small hut that functions as a camera obscura: close the chamber’s door and let your eyes adjust, and you’ll see a perfect replication of the trees and the sky on the walls and floor of the chamber, illuminated by a tiny hole in the ceiling through which the sun shines.
The Cloud Chamber is just one of the breathtaking art installations that dot NCMA’s outdoor trails, which are accessible coming from Meredith’s campus via the green way. Other outdoor highlights of the museum are the sculpture garden outside the Rodin exhibit and the amphitheater and pond area, which are great places to relax and reflect after walking through the exhibit spaces.
By Ell Shelp-Peck, Staff Writer, and Olivia Slack, Features Editor