Works by 13 local artists highlight a new exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art that explores drawing in its relationship to thought processes.
“Line, Touch, Trace,” in the museum’s North Carolina Gallery, is the brainchild of Edie Carpenter, director of curatorial and artistic programs at Greenhill, a Greensboro arts center.
“It kind of grew in my mind out of an earlier exhibition in 2010,” said Carpenter, adding she made several proposals to the Museum of Art.
“Line, Touch, Trace” features 30 hand-drawn works by artists using graphite, ballpoint pen, conte crayon, ink or charcoal. The exhibit is on view through March 8.
“I am very excited about the exhibition, especially for the artists,” Carpenter said. “It is one of the only kind of exhibitions that have looked at drawings.”
The artists represent a variety of experience. At 95, Fritz Janschka of Greensboro is the senior artist in the show. Janschka, an internationally renowned painter, sculptor and graphic artist and a native of Austria, is one of the postwar founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. All of the artists have a connection to North Carolina, having either been born here or studied and worked in the state.
In the showcased drawings, the artists use line for precision, apply touch to build tonal values or erase edges, and use traced marks to suggest imagined topography. The techniques are used to communicate mental states, project invented worlds or portray moments of contemplation.
“Most of the drawings in the exhibition began with one of those three elements,” Carpenter said.
Jennifer Dasal, associate curator for contemporary art at NCMA, said the exhibit was a perfect opportunity to collaborate with Greenhill and reach out to people who otherwise might not visit the Raleigh museum.
Greenhill is an exhibition space in Greensboro founded in 1974 that features rotating displays by artists who have a deep connection to North Carolina. In conjunction with “Line, Touch, Trace,” it is presenting “Following Threads: Fiber Art and Drawing” through Nov. 9. “Following Threads” spotlights four artists who investigate the drawn and stitched line in figurative and abstract works.
Dasal said Carpenter proposed the collaboration because she knew NCMA had a gallery dedicated to North Carolina artists.
“It is always nice that we can showcase artists in this space that aren’t necessarily in our collection,” Dasal said. “Edie knew we had this space and had this idea. She wanted to know if we used guest curators.”
As guest curator, Carpenter said she was responsible for the conceptual development of the exhibit, choosing the artists and the underpinnings that bring them together.
The North Carolina Gallery is on the entrance level of the museum and easily accessible to visitors. Dasal said its location makes it a high-traffic area. Because the gallery is not ticketed, the museum does not keep track of how many people pass through.
“We inaugurated the gallery three or four years ago and only have two shows a year,” Dasal said. “It is relatively new and we had been doing it internally. We had not had just drawings on display in this gallery. It was another aspect of North Carolina art that we wanted to showcase.”
Carpenter noted that hand-drawn art appeals to a broad audience. “Visitors are very attracted to this type of art,” she said. “There’s something about drawing that’s very intimate and can attract more of a casual visitor because we all have an experience with it. It’s something we’ve all practiced.”
“The hand-drawn aspect was important to me,” she said. “It was important to have the involvement of the artists’ hands.”
All of the works are studio drawings, she said.
On Oct. 4, three of the artists – Isaac Payne, Matthew Micca and Kiki Farish – will lead an open tour through the exhibition from 10-11:30 a.m., answering questions from visitors.