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North Carolina Artists Represented in the Mint's Collection

The Mint Museum of Art's collection represents a wide variety of artists born or raised in North Carolina (denoted by a red star*) and many who are based in the state. Using a variety of styles and mediums, the artists below address social issues, state histories, and identities in their work. It is important to note that many artists in North Carolina do not seek fame, but rather dream of invigorating their communities with under-appreciated art forms. Institutions such as the Mint Museum, the McColl Center, the Penland School of Craft, and the Southern Highland Craft Guild have supported and influenced many of these artists over the last century.



Cole Family*


One of the most recognizable art forms in North Carolina is the pottery of the Eastern Piedmont, Catawba Valley, and Buncombe County. The soil in central North Carolina and the mountains is red clay, which is an ideal material for throwing pottery. Communities emerged in towns across the region that are still known today for pottery production.


The Cole family has been passing down pottery traditions for over two hundred years in Seagrove, a town in central North Carolina. Six generations of potters are represented in the Mint's collection, including Raphard Cole, Alfred Cole, Arthur R. Cole, Waymon Cole, Neolia Cole Womack, Celia Cole Perkinson, and others. Some Cole potters focused on urns for storage and others made pieces for cooking or baking. Additionally, some family members made decorative pieces, like Celia Cole Perkinson's miniature pottery sets.




Minnie Evans (1892-1987)*


Evans was born in Long Creek, North Carolina, but spent much of her life in Wilmington. Until she was 43 years old, Evans did not draw or paint, but began after she heard a voice saying to "draw or die." Much of her inspiration came from her dreams, visions, God, and the lush environment of the Airlie Gardens where she worked. Additionally, Evans used imagery from the Caribbean because she had traced her ancestry back to Trinidad. Evans's artworks are extraordinarily vivid with unique patterns, but she refused to explain them, stating, "They are just as strange to me as they are to anybody else.”



Minnie Evans, Design Made at Airlie Gardens, 1967, oil and mixed media on canvas mounted on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 1972.44. Photo from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



Anni Albers (1899-1994)

"Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done: the dictation of the materials."


Albers was born in Berlin, Germany and studied weaving at the Bauhaus, which was a progressive place for fine arts and design. However, the school was shut down in 1933 by Nazi forces. Anni Albers and her husband, Josef Albers, immigrated to North Carolina to teach at the experimental Black Mountain College. Anni and Josef Albers brought with them many ideologies from the Bauhaus and helped establish a new kind of art in the United States. Specifically, Anni Albers helped establish weaving as a valuable art form instead of merely a craft. While she only worked in North Carolina for sixteen years, Albers was extremely influential in the state and across the world.




Romare Bearden (1911-1988)*

“Most artists take some place, and like a flower, they sink roots, looking for universal implications. . . . My roots are in North Carolina."


Perhaps one of the most renowned artists in the Mint's collection is Romare Bearden, a Charlotte-born artist. At three years old, Bearden's family moved to New York in order to escape white supremacy and Jim Crow laws of the South. While he spent much of his life working in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, Bearden often drew inspiration from his North Carolinian roots. Bearden's legacy lives on in Charlotte, as we can see in a sculpture dedicated to him and the Romare Bearden Park. One of Bearden's most notable artistic practices was his use of collage, which merged the imagery of the past with commentary on present-day life for Black Americans.





George Bireline (1923-2002)


Bireline was born in Peoria, Illinois and began pursuing art after serving in World War II. He obtained his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was an art professor at North Carolina State University for much of his career. Bireline's paintings are often on large canvases and have bright colors in geometric designs. His early works were figurative, but his later career works were mostly color field paintings.




John Biggers (1924-2001)*


John Biggers was an influential muralist from Gastonia, NC. His work commented on injustices in the United States, including racism and economic inequality. After a period in the Navy and travels to West Africa, his style developed into one of social realism. Biggers was one of the first African American artists to address the concept of the African Diaspora. In addition to murals, he also worked on paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures.





Silvia Heyden (1927-2015) 

"From the beginning, I was convinced that there was a tapestry waiting to be uncovered that could not be painted or designed on paper, but one that would evolve from the process of weaving itself."


Heyden was born in Switzerland, but she moved to Durham, North Carolina in 1953. Heyden was a prolific artist, having made 800 works in her life. Influences like nature (including the Eno River in North Carolina), music, and her Bauhaus training led to brightly colored weavings. Heyden asserted that weaving required a different perspective from other art forms because it has a unique sense of movement and creation.




Maud Gatewood (1934-2004)*


Maud Gatewood was not only a successful artist, but she was also an influential teacher, activist, and political figure. Gatewood grew up in Yanceyville and pursued painting at the Women's College at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her works often depict landscapes, figures, and architecture. Occasionally, her art took a political stance, as in Absolution: Victims Becoming a Monument (1989), a painting depicting the brutal history of the AIDs epidemic, and Absolut: North Carolina, which raised money for AIDs research. In addition to her artistic career, Gatewood was the first woman to be a member of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners, advocating for health, socioeconomic issues, and fair land use.




Mark Peiser (1938-) 


Mark Peiser, born in Chicago, is an internationally known studio glass artist and was a founder of the Glass Art Society. Before learning how to blow glass, Peiser was an industrial designer, but he left that job to study glass at the Penland School of Craft in 1967. He has experimented with many glass techniques, such as ceramic glaze powders and household products, and even formulated new color bars of glass. His most recent glassworks play with light, as they are semi-translucent and have a matte-like finish. Peiser still lives and works in Penland, NC.




Cynthia Bringle (1939-) and Edwina Bringle (1939-)


The Bringle twins were born in Memphis, Tennessee, but both have spent decades living in North Carolina and working at the Penland School of Craft. Cynthia is a studio potter known for representing the United States at the First U.S. International Ceramic Symposiums. There she created a variety of functional, everyday pottery in addition to some experimental works. Edwina had a less direct path toward becoming an artist, as she spent her early career as a radiologic technician, but she eventually became a prolific weaver. Now, she creates brightly colored pieces using natural dyes.




Herb Jackson (1945-)*

“The history of narrative painting is based on representing a reality as if were viewed through a window, whereas I am interested in presenting a new entity that one enters, as if by a door.”


Jackson was born in Raleigh and his career was jumpstarted by a 1962 juried show at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Much of his career has been spent in Davidson, NC, where he was a professor of art at Davidson College. He received the 1999 North Carolina Award from the Governor and the 2015 North Caroliniana Society Award for his contributions to the state's culture. Jackson's process involves building up over a hundred layers of paint and scraping them off to form a textured surface. His abstract works don't necessarily tackle a particular concept or theme. Instead, they invite a convergence of emotions in the viewer.




Juan Logan (1946-)*

“For many years now, I’ve tried to simply ask better questions. I think that’s the only thing that allows us to deepen our investigations about what we’re doing, regardless of discipline. If we can ask better questions, we’ll learn more, be able to do more.”


Logan was born in Nashville, Tennessee, but spent most of his childhood in Belmont, North Carolina. After high school, Logan went to Howard University with the hopes of studying science but transferred to Clark College to focus on art. After obtaining his degree, he joined the US Air Force and was a jet engine mechanic in the Vietnam War, an experience that inspired many of his paintings. His paintings and sculptures are based on the history of his family, Blackness in America, class, and power.




Bob Trotman (1947-)*


Trotman was born in Winston-Salem and currently lives in rural western North Carolina. He began his career by getting a B.A. in Philosophy and taught secondary school English. In the 1970s, Trotman opened his studio and learned how to be a craftsman. Today, Trotman creates woodworked pieces, sculptures, and furniture. Many of his works are satirical or incorporate humor to convey a message. 




Jon Kuhn (1948-)


Kuhn was born in Chicago and after studying art at multiple institutions, in 1985 Kuhn settled down outside of Winston-Salem. He began as a glassblower and focused on traditional forms, but eventually, he turned to other methods of glasswork. Kuhn focuses on cold working, which involves cutting, grinding, polishing, and fusing glass. The results are kaleidoscopic as light refracts from the piece. In his artist statement, Kuhn states, "the work references my passions for architecture, music, mathematics, and textiles—further informed by the formal and limitless considerations of structure and color. The pieces in a sense, become for me, and hopefully the viewer, architectural portals to an inner world...possibly a brighter, more clearly insightful world."





Robert Levin (1948-) 


Levin was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but has spent most of his career living and working in North Carolina. He was a resident at the Penland School of Craft, taught glass around the world, and received numerous awards. Levin makes functional glassware, but he has also made sculptural and mixed media works. Some of his most important creations are his "frosted vessels," which gain semi-translucent surfaces through processes of sandblasting and acid etching.




Elizabeth Bradford (1950-)*

“I’m on a mission to sensitize people to the beauty of the earth.”


As a descendant of North Carolinian farmers, Bradford has always been fascinated with the natural landscape. Her work uses vibrant colors and detailed brushstrokes to bring attention to the complexities of the natural world. Additionally, her paintings evoke appreciation and wonder of the world. Currently, Bradford lives in Davidson and regularly goes hiking to find new inspiration for her paintings.





Elizabeth Brim (1951-) 


Brim grew up in Columbus Georgia and after finishing her graduate degree in Printmaking at the University of Georgia, she went to the Penland School of Craft to take a ceramics class. Later, she took a jewelry class, which turned her attention to metalworking. Now, still living near Penland, Brim makes metal sculptures of feminine objects (a tiara, a tutu, heeled shoes, etc.) but her use of a traditionally masculine medium flips those narratives upside down.





Mel Chin (1951-)

“The survival of my own ideas may not be as important as a condition I might create for others’ ideas to be realized.”


Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas and is known for his interdisciplinary and team-based projects. One of his first works to receive critical acclaim was See-Saw (1976), which reveals Chin's artistic interests in ecological and scientific themes. He has been living and working in western North Carolina since the 1990s.


Chin's SEA to SEE (2014), a work commissioned by the Mint for the “Connecting the World: The Panama Canal at 100” exhibition, presents two glass orbs that represent the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Upon these glass surfaces, there are projections representing oceanographic data and soundtracks play that capture noises of each ocean (such as whale sounds or ship traffic). As viewers engage with portraits of the Atlantic Ocean on one orb and the Pacific Ocean on the other, they are forced to rethink the relationships humans have with the ocean.




Michael Sherrill (1954-) 


Sherrill has been living in the North Carolina mountains since 1974 and frequently takes inspiration from the unique pottery history of the area. His mixed media works (often made of glass, clay, and metal) seek to evoke wonder and discovery in the world around us. His pieces, such as flowers or branches, are clear references to the natural world, but he gives them new lives with bright colors and shiny glazes.




Gary Beecham (1955-) 


Beecham is a studio glass artist from Wisconsin who now lives and works in North Carolina. He worked with Harvey Littleton, a founder of the studio glass movement, which influenced his practice greatly. Beecham states that he draws from many places to find inspiration in his work, including ancient glass practices, the crystal forms of Scandinavia, and complex cane designs in Italian glass. His blown and fused works are often very heavy with thick walls.




Linda Foard Roberts (1961-)


Linda Foard Roberts was born in Charlotte, NC and still lives in the area now. Foard Robert's photography focuses on themes of history, life, death, and human rights. Her photos often depict local landscapes or her family in black and white to connect the viewer with a deeply personal history. 




Beverly McIver (1962-)*

"My voice felt loud and unapologetic. I felt power in speaking my truth. I hadn't been loud enough, and I needed to scream it."

McIver was born in Greensboro, NC and raised alongside two sisters. Having grown up in poverty amidst racial violence in Greensboro, her self-portraits have become important for confronting stereotypes about Black women and finding self-expression. Family is also an important theme in her work, which we can see clearly in portraits depicting Renee, McIver's sister who is mentally disabled and whom she now cares for. McIver's explorations of race, gender, class, and occupation provide insights into both her personal life and society at large.





Brent Skidmore (1965-)


Skidmore, while born in Kentucky, has been working in North Carolina for many years on woodworking and furniture design. His pieces are somewhat playful and often resemble organic materials. He has taught at the Penland School of Craft, UNC Charlotte, UNC Asheville, and multiple craft organizations in North Carolina. Additionally, he was a co-founder of the STEAM Studio at UNC Asheville, which integrates science, technology, engineering, art, and math as a method of innovation.




Stacy Lynn Waddell (1966-) 


Waddell was born in Washington D.C. and came to North Carolina to complete a BA at the School of Design, North Carolina State University and her MFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Waddell uses layers of gold in her artworks to create a glimmering surface that the viewer feels compelled to look at closely and slowly. In addition to gilding, she also uses techniques of branding and singeing to comment upon beauty and power in American history. Waddell splits her time between studios in Durham and New York City.




Anne Lemanski (1969-)*


Lemanski was born in North Carolina and after time spent working outside the state, she is working in Spruce Pine, NC. Her practice is interdisciplinary but revolves around the relationships between humans and animals. Lemanski is intrigued by how humans draw from the symbols of animal life, but also how we exploit these creatures. Often, her artworks have bold patterns with whimsical references and use fragile mediums, like paper.





Cristina Córdova (1976-)


Córdova grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to the U.S. to obtain her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics. She entered a residency at the Penland School of Craft in 2002 and is still based in North Carolina today. 


Many of her works are ceramic figures sculpted in intimate or surprising ways with various objects that relate to her Puerto Rican heritage. In discussing her work, she has said, "I am driven by the primal act of imbuing an inanimate representation with a sense of presence, transforming it into the inspired repository of our deepest longings and aspirations. My goal is to have these compositions perform both as reflections of our shared humanity as well as question socio-cultural notions of gender, race, beauty and power."





Antoine Williams (1980-)*


Williams grew up in Red Springs, NC and has worked extensively across the state. His art is centered on revealing the complexities of race in the United States, which is inspired by his childhood living in a rural, working-class area. His pieces are mixed media, ranging from murals to performance to collages and more. 


In discussing his work, Williams states, "My practice is an exploration of the notion, society as monstrous, and its effect on Black physical, mental, and emotional states of being. The work created sits at the intersection of radical Black imagining, magical realism and critical race theory. I use a variety of material and processes to weave futures, present, and histories into surrealist speculative economies that investigates the complexities of contemporary Black life in the context of class and power."




Damian Stamer (1983-)*


Stamer grew up in Hillsborough, NC and has continued to be an important North Carolinian artist. While he briefly lived in New York City, the rural parts of North Carolina's landscape are the main subjects in his art. Stamer is inspired by overgrowth, abandonment, or time as they affect a location. Stamer views the South as an important space to work because he believes artists need to unveil these histories of the land to make it possible for us to move forward.




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Created by RJ Maupin, Library Intern