Visual arts

Work in progress


Emasculated and neutered or evil and calculating? Domineering dragon lady or helpless concubine? In twentieth-century Hollywood, the choices for Asian-American actors were few and far between. Often, the roles available were reductive and one-dimensional—stereotypes come to life.

Nasher Museum with banner by Carrie Mae Weems

Art at the Nasher in the time of COVID


The Nasher Museum of Art staff were facing COVID reality last summer. Their Ebony Patterson exhibit, “...while the dew is still on the roses…,” a rich, complex installation with art, video, patterned walls, and more than 12,000 individually placed flowers throughout the gallery, had to come down after having been open only ten days. It was impossible to predict when the doors would reopen. “We were devastated,” says Wendy Hower, director of engagement and marketing. “The building looks like it’s asleep.”

Scene from

Neil Creque Williams '06 has a story to tell


Film producer, director, and writer Neil Creque Williams ’06 wanted to make movies by the time he was seven, when in second grade, his teacher let him show his home videos during lunchtime.

“I watched a lot of animation—Little Mermaid, Lion King—and just wanting to watch behind the scenes, like how did they animate it? I was just fascinated by that stuff,” Williams recalls. “You get wrapped up in the technology—if we had this, I could do that—and eventually you realize, no, none of those things. You tell a story.”

Power Plant Gallery director Caitlin Kelly helps an artist install her work

A space where M.F.A. students can experiment


Caitlin Margaret Kelly M.F.A. ’14 studies a photo of a back-to-the-lander teaching a younger woman how to aim a rifle, then slides it along the floor toward the center of a wall. Placed there, though, the gun appears to threaten the boy in the photo next to it, standing in his patch of poison ivy. She moves it again, but here it targets a decaying church, its steeple slumping into its sanctuary.

Work in progress


AS A MAJOR in both computer science and visual arts, I had been eager to design a project that merged these two fields through the use of machine learning. I quickly gravitated toward doing a black-and-white relief print and then experimenting using other mediums in combination. I decided to use colored screen prints layered underneath the relief prints and high-resolution scans processed by generative machine-learning algorithms to create new versions to display alongside the original print.

A headshot of NCMA director and Duke alumnae Valerie Hillings

Valerie Hillings is going places


When her phone rang last fall, France Family Professor of art, art history, and visual studies Kristine Stiles recognized the voice on the other end of the line. “Do you know who you’re talking to?” the voice asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Valerie.” Valerie Hillings ’93: student, research assistant, protégé, then friend and ultimately colleague, curator at the Guggenheim. A voice Stiles would never mistake.

“You’re talking to the new director of the North Carolina Museum of Art!” Hillings told Stiles.

An image of Duke alumnus Frank Konhaus and his wife, Ellen Cassilly

Couple creates something for the people


Early evening. A crowd of fifty or so mills around two levels of galleries and assembly space: a modernist house filled with visitors, the living room lined with folding chairs, the kitchen island covered with wine bottles, pimento cheese dip, ham biscuits, and fruit. Framed photographs cover every wall, and people leaf through books and read gallery guides left in easy reach on shelves and windowsills. Out the windows to the north are acres and acres of peaceful green—Duke Forest is the neighbor—raked by magic-hour sunlight.