Carolina Arts logo

Feature Articles

June 2011

NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, Features Works by Female Artists

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Mirror Image: Women Portraying Women, featuring compelling images of women, from youth to old age, as seen through the distinct perspectives of 13 North Carolina female artists. The exhibition, in the Museum’s North Carolina Gallery in the East Building will be on view through Nov. 27, 2011.

Featuring 27 works of art from the 1970s to the present, Mirror Image is an intimate reflection of feminine experience, played out in painting, photography, and sculpture. Each work of art is a deeply personal representation of femininity and the influences and experiences that shape the female identity.

“Though many works in the Museum’s collection feature images of women, a small fraction of the art was created by female artists,” said Jennifer Dasal, exhibition curator. “Mirror Image combines these two elements into a unique exhibition that features many rarely seen works from our own collection alongside loans from many of the best female artists in North Carolina.”

The exhibit encompasses a wide range of work by female artists, from photographic depictions of women at work and introspective portraits of family members to mixed-media installations that reference cultural identification. While the artists in the show touch on an array of subjects across a variety of media, visitors will discover that many of their works explore similar themes, such as family, tradition, identity, and the female condition.

“The provocative images in Mirror Image - some inspiring, others disconcerting - prompt us to explore our own ideas of what it means to be a woman. The exhibition has powerful cultural and psychological implications,” said Dasal.

Family is a frequent theme for artists Margaret Sartor and Mary Shannon Johnstone, who often turn their lens toward close family members. Photographs by Sartor are filled with images of her young daughter and nieces, which allow the artist to reflect on her own childhood. Like Sartor, Johnstone’s photographs are also a deeply personal reflection of her family. In the photograph Silent Home: Bruised Mornings, a portrayal of the painful emotions evoked by strained relationships, Johnston records what she calls “a history some would rather forget.”

Artists Cristina Córdova, Stacy Lynn Waddell, and Roxana Pérez-Méndez each grapple with issues of cultural identification and its complicated history. In The Amazing Adventures of Tar Baby Mama, Waddell uses the burning and branding of paper and canvas to depict transparent and ghostly figures. The image of Tar Baby Mama marked with ephemera of the African American tradition illustrates Waddell’s own conflicting emotions regarding history, family background, and self-identification.

Other important issues such as work, interior lives, communication and aging are explored in the work of Susan Harbage Page, elin o’Hara slavick, Emily Scott Beck, and Caroline Vaughan. Beck’s video Churn, for instance, asks a series of women to speak their minds to a camera while their heads are submerged in water. Voices garbled and unintelligible, the women release complaints, opinions, and secrets without fear that they’ll be judged or scorned. The water inhibits and at the same time unburdens them.

With its focus on the exploration of the female identity, Mirror Image is a fitting counterpart to 30 Americans, the Museum’s concurrent special exhibition of work by contemporary African American artists, many of whom also address issues of identity in their diverse body of work.

Artists with works from the NCMA’s collection include Margaret Sartor (Durham), Maud Gatewood (Yanceyville), elin o’Hara slavick (Chapel Hill), and Caroline Vaughan (Durham).

The exhibition also features work by Stacy Lynn Waddell (Chapel Hill), Rebecca Fagg (Greensboro), Katie Claiborne (Greensboro), Emily Scott Beck (Durham), Linda Foard Roberts (Waxhaw), Mary Shannon Johnstone (Cary), Roxana Pérez-Méndez (Chapel Hill), Cristina Córdova (Penland), and Susan Harbage Page (Chapel Hill).

Mirror Image was organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions.

Several events will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition including:
On Friday, June 24, 2011, at 7pm - Meet the Artists - Jennifer Dasal, curator of Mirror Image, and artists featured in the show chat about works in the exhibition, after which the group moves into the galleries for further discussion. The event is free.
On Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at 11am - Lunch and Learn - Curator Jennifer Dasal examines what it means to be a woman in today’s culture, as seen through the eyes of North Carolina artists from the 1970s through the present. Event fee is $20 Members or $25 Nonmembers.

The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through monumental works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 919/839-6262 or visit (

[ | June 2011 | Feature Articles | Carolina Arts Unleashed | Gallery Listings | Home | ]



Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 2011 by PSMG, Inc., which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - Dec. 1994 and South Carolina Arts from Jan. 1995 - Dec. 1996. It also publishes Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 2011 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited. Carolina Arts is available throughout North & South Carolina.