The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Making TRANSactions image
“Keep on Crossin' 2003-2005,” Perry Vasquez
Making TRANSactions

Haven't experienced contemporary Latin American art? Get ready.

“TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art,” an exhibition of the work of more than 40 artists, will be at the Weatherspoon Art Museum through Sept. 28.

It is the most extensive exhibition of this type of material presented in North Carolina, and it is also the first to look closely at the connections between Latinos working in the United States and artists from Latin America. The artists hail from the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Guatemala and Cuba.

Diversity and hybridity are the defining characteristics of the art and artists included in “TRANSactions.” For example, Maria Fernanda Cardozo's installation of artificial flowers pays homage to those who have “disappeared” in her native Colombia. James Luna, who is part Mexican and part Native American, asks us to consider how his dual heritage combines in a complex but still singular identity. Perry Vasquez translates the 1960s icon, Keep on Truckin' guy, into a stereotyped Mexican figure in his multimedia work “Keep on Crossin'.”

As exhibition curator Stephanie Hanor writes in an introduction to the exhibition catalogue, “Contemporary art from Latin America now forms an intrinsic part of the international art arena. While engaged in a global dialogue, these artists explore and parody cultural locations and identities even as they uphold and transgress them.”

This nationally traveling exhibition was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, which has one of the finest collections of Latino and Latin American art in this country. Educational and outreach programs at the Weatherspoon will include a film series, lectures, bilingual labels, a bilingual audio tour and family day.

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Double Feature KKK image
George Franklin Dorsett is shown at a Klan rally in “FBI-KKK.”
Double feature

It's been a busy year for broadcasting and cinema professor Dr. Michael Frierson. In December, his documentary “Clarence John Laughlin: An Artist with a Camera” debuted in New Orleans.

Laughlin's black and white, surrealist photographs captured New Orleans and the crumbling plantation houses, enigmatic graveyards and iconic, vanishing landscapes of the Deep South from the 1930s to the 1950s. In addition to New Orleans, Laughlin traveled across the United States photographing buildings before they were torn down and replaced by what he considered soulless construction. “Laughlin's nearly 17,000 photographs are a historical record of what New Orleans has lost,” says Frierson, who has lived and taught in New Orleans. “Laughlin was an eccentric, but fortunately New Orleans is very accepting of eccentric people.”

Closer to home, in “FBI-KKK,” Frierson documented his father Dargan Frierson's unlikely role, both as an FBI special agent in Greensboro and as confidant to George Franklin Dorsett, a chaplain of the United Klans of America and informant for the FBI. The film depicts Dargan Frierson's contradictory views on race — his grandfather was an early member of a Klan group in South Carolina. “I made this movie not only as way of understanding what my father went through in the 1960s, but to also explore how attitudes about race, particularly for Southerners like my father's generation, aren't easy to explain or pigeonhole,” Frierson says.

The film intertwines footage of Dorsett's fiery injunctions against integration with scenes of Dargan Frierson and Dorsett, nearly four decades later, recalling the curious friendship that developed between the two. “Especially for young people today,” says Michael Frierson, “the Klan seems like something from another era. But it's important to remember that Klan rallies in North Carolina used to attract thousands of people. Even though North Carolina was regarded as a progressive state, it had the largest active Klan in the world in the 1960s.”

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Spartones image
The Spartones
Ah, Cappella

What has 34 legs and is never flat or sharp? The Spartones, UNCG's male a cappella group.

In March, the 10-year-old group sang their way to second place in the southern semifinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

While collegiate a cappella groups may conjure up images of clean cut warblers in tuxedos such as the Yale Whiffenpoofs, the Spartones follow a more modern interpretation of this genre, which has experienced a resurgence in part because of the popularity of “boy bands” such as 'N Sync and Boyz II Men.

“People are starting to realize how much fun a cappella can be,” says Lindell Carter, a junior vocal performance major and the Spartones' musical director. “It's different from any other kind of vocal style.” The Spartones' repertoire includes show tunes, soft rock and even some heavy metal music and rap. Because a cappella tradition prohibits instruments, singers use their vocal cords to emulate instruments and percussion sounds such as bass drum or cymbals. And, of course, everyone must stay in tune.

“Not the Same,” the Spartones' fourth studio CD, was released in May to coincide with their spring concert. Listen to smooth tracks from The Spartones' CD, “Not the Same.”

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Check out the writing on this ‘Cave Wall’

People thought the title was too dark. Wouldn't a poetry journal called “Cave Wall” be a bit of a downer?

But Rhett Iseman Trull MFA '03 persevered. When she heard an NPR piece about how the “storytelling room” in a cave had the best acoustics, she felt vindicated. “What better place to bring the light of art and poetry than into the darkness?”

Rhett and her husband, Jeff, had often talked about starting a literary magazine. Finally, in January 2007, they published the first issue of “Cave Wall.”

“We both love poetry,” Rhett says. “It was something we'd always wanted to do, and the timing was just right.”

“Cave Wall,” published twice a year, features contemporary poetry and black-and-white art. The fledgling journal has become almost a full-time job for Rhett, who serves as editor.

“I knew it would take a lot of time, but not quite this much time,” she says. “I could work on it every day, all day, and never get it done. However, it's also been more rewarding than I could have imagined.”

Rhett recruited material from poets teaching in the MFA program, some of them her former instructors. Fred Chappell and Jennifer Grotz have both contributed poems. “Everyone has been very encouraging,” Rhett says. “We are so blessed to have gotten off to a strong start.”

Rhett and Jeff publish “Cave Wall” in the fall and spring. To learn more about the journal, contact them at P.O. Box 29546, Greensboro, NC 27429-9546, or editor@cavewallpress.com.

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Alumni authors

  • “The Other Chekhov,” co-edited by Okla Elliott '02, '06 MALS
  • “Perianesthesia Patient Care for Uncommon Diseases,” by Joseph Anthony Joyce '81
  • “Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon,” an analysis of Joss Whedon's imaginary worlds in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and others by Katherine Dale Koontz '91
  • “Little Lives,” a short story collection by John Picard '89 MFA
  • “Piece Work,” a collection of poetry by Barbara Presnell '76
  • “Teaching Confucianism,” a compilation of essays edited by Jeffrey Lynn Richey '94
  • “Rowdy in Paris,” a novel by Tim Sandlin '86 MFA
  • “Finding Endurance,” a collection of poetry by Paula Stanley '90 PhD

Awards

  • “Mad Dog,” a novella by Kathy Flann '98 MFA published in early 2008, won the AE Coppard Prize for Fiction. Her short story collection, “Smoky Ordinary,” published in April, won the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award.
  • “The Boatloads,” a collection of poetry by Dan Albergotti '02 MFA, won the A. Poulin Jr. Prize.
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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Location: 1000 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, NC 27403
Mailing Address: PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Telephone: 336.334.5000
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Last updated: Tuesday, 04 October 2011
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