Art Honors Students Visit Museums in Raleigh/Durham

Accompanied by Dr. Heather Waldroup, Associate Director of the Honors College, Dr. Mira Waits, Assistant Professor of Art History, and Smith Gallery Director Jennie Carlisle, a group of honors students from Appalachian State University's Department of Art traveled to Raleigh/Durham for a day in November to visit several significant art museums. The group focused on viewing contemporary works by underrepresented artists at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and the North Carolina Museum of Art


Honors students posing in front of Nick Cave’s Soundsuit (mixed media, 2015) at the Nasher. Photo by Dr. Waldroup.

At the Nasher, the group met with museum education staff to tour the exhibitions Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now and Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations. They were able to see and discuss works by artists they had previously studied in class, including James Luna, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Mickalene Thomas. After a visit to the Power Plant Gallery, an experimental art space, the group arrived at the North Carolina Museum of Art in time to attend College Night, a series of programs for college students from around North Carolina. The programs (which included food and mingling, salsa dancing lessons, and various art-making stations) were focused around the exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism


The students got matching (temporary) tattoos in honor of Frida Kahlo at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s College Night program. Photo by Dr. Waldroup.

For any student of the visual arts, whether as a maker/designer, an art historian, or a future arts professional, viewing works in person is integral to understanding the artist’s intention, technique, and scale. Equally significant for recognizing the global, cross-cultural impact of the arts is the necessity of studying works of art outside the European canon. For the students on this trip, the opportunity to interact with works by artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Nick Cave and discuss them with their instructors and museum professionals enabled a deeper understanding of the potential for engaging with a work of art. 


The students discussed Kehinde Wiley’s painting St. John the Baptist II (oil on canvas, 2006) at the Nasher. Photo by Dr. Waldroup.

Kellie Doran, an art history major currently finishing her Honors thesis on representations of Native Americans by European artists, particularly found inspiration in the painting History is Painted by the Victors by Cree artist Kent Monkman. She wrote, “Interestingly enough, there was a piece within the Art For A New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s To Now show that connects to the thesis I'm currently writing. It was great to see that the work I am doing now heavily connects to themes major institutions are also concerned about."  


The students viewing Kent Monkman’s History is Painted by the Victors (acrylic on canvas, 2013) at the Nasher. Photo by Dr. Waldroup.

The Art Department regularly takes students on field trips around North Carolina and to Washington, D.C., and New York to view artworks in museums and galleries. This trip was a unique opportunity for Honors students in the department to build community with one another and further their relationships with faculty. 


Story by:  Dr. Heather Waldroup

Top photo:  Honors students posing in front of Nick Cave’s Soundsuit (mixed media, 2015) at the Nasher. Photo by Dr. Waldroup.

Published: Dec 5, 2019 12:35pm