Exhibition Announcement

New Exhibition Explores Human Relationships – Ties that Bind


The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro has organized the exhibition Ties that Bind: Selections from the Collection, on view until February 14, 2021. John Fawcett wrote a hymn on the theme in 1800, “blest be the tie that binds.” Bruce Springsteen took a different approach in an eponymous song popular in 1980, singing “you don’t want nothin’, don’t need no one by your side/You’re walkin’ tough baby, but you’re walkin’ blind/To the ties that bind.” Whether entwined in fellowship with kindred spirits or stretched to the point of breaking, the ties that bind us to one another are often some of the most significant markers in our lives. Ties that Bind explores the various types of relationships that define, brighten, inspire, or perhaps even challenge us on a daily basis.

The exhibition includes works from the Weatherspoon’s collection by, among many others: Janine Antoni, Benny Andrews, Diane Arbus, Romare Bearden, Jean Charlot, David Hass, Nan Goldin, Alex Katz, Nikki Lee, Malcolm Morley, Fairfield Porter, Charlie Roberts, Vibeke Tandberg, and Marion Post Wolcott. The works explore familial relationships, be they between mother and child or self-identified families, and less fixed, but equally important ties—to lovers, friends, and even objects. And, because life can be arduous at times, the tension, separateness, and alienation that result from unhealthy ties or from a lack of connection are also considered.

The exhibition is on display at a time when we are (re)examining our relationships with one other, particularly friends and family who we can and cannot spend time with due to the global pandemic. The artworks prompt viewers to contemplate the people and things that might be important to their mental and emotional health and why. In short, who brings comfort and joy to our lives and who are we separated from by distance, if not love? Images like Benny Andrews’ Two Women with Two Children (1971) and Nan Goldin’s Bruce’s mirror. Portland, Maine (1996) offer alternative definitions of “family.” Other images, particularly Malcolm Morley’s Beach Scene (1969) and David Haas’ more recent Carousel, Copenhagen (2019) celebrate moments of shared pleasure, while early twentieth-century artists Jean Charlot and Marion Post Wolcott highlighted families working together for the common good. The separateness and alienation that can result from unhealthy ties or from a lack of connection are apparent in Vibeke Tandberg’s and Nikki Lee’s photographs, Living Together #6 (1996) and Part (37) (2002), as well as Charlie Roberts’ drawing, Possible Heads (2010).

As we navigate through the upheavals of 2020, Ties that Bind offers some opportunities to think about how we live, love, and relate to one another during these challenging times and conditions.

The exhibition is organized by Elaine D. Gustafson, Curator of Collections.

Image: Nikki S. Lee, Part (37), 2002 (detail). Dye coupler print mounted on aluminum, 29 ⅞ x 22 ⅞ in. Weatherspoon Art Museum. Gift of Leslie Tonkonow, 2009.21. © Nikki S. Lee

About the Weatherspoon Art Museum

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro enriches the lives of diverse individuals and connects multiple communities, both on and off campus, by presenting, interpreting, and collecting modern and contemporary art. In recognizing its paramount role of public service, the Weatherspoon fosters an appreciation of the ability of art to positively impact lives.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro was founded by Gregory Ivy in 1941 and is the earliest of any art facilities within the UNC system. The museum was founded as a resource for the campus, community, and region and its early leadership developed an emphasis—maintained to this day—on presenting and acquiring modern and contemporary works of art. A 1950 bequest from the renowned collection of Claribel and Etta Cone, which included prints and bronzes by Henri Matisse and other works on paper by American and European modernists, helped to establish the Weatherspoon’s permanent collection.

In 1989, the museum moved into its present location in The Anne and Benjamin Cone Building designed by the architectural firm Mitchell Giurgula. The museum has six galleries and a sculpture courtyard with over 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. The American Alliance of Museums accredited the Weatherspoon in 1995 and renewed its accreditation in 2005 and 2015.

Collections + Exhibitions
The permanent collection of the Weatherspoon Art Museum is considered to be one of the foremost of its kind in the Southeast. It represents all major art movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Among the nearly 6,200 works in the collection are pieces by such prominent figures as Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edward Weston, Joseph Stella, David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Elizabeth Catlett, Louise Nevelson, Gordon Parks, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Cindy Sherman, Adrian Piper, Betye Saar, Amy Silman, Nick Cave, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Sanford Biggers. The museum regularly lends to major exhibitions nationally and internationally.

The Weatherspoon also is known for its dynamic exhibition program. Through a lively annual calendar of exhibitions and a multi-disciplinary educational program for audiences of all ages, the museum provides an opportunity for visitors to consider artistic, cultural, and social issues of our time—enriching the life of our university, community, and region.

UNC Greensboro
Located in North Carolina’s third largest city, UNC Greensboro is among the most diverse, learner-centered public research universities in the state, with nearly 18,000 students in eight colleges and schools pursuing more than 150 areas of undergraduate and over 200 areas of graduate study. UNCG continues to be recognized nationally for academic excellence, access, and affordability. UNCG is ranked No. 1 most affordable institution in North Carolina for net cost by the N.Y. Times and No. 1 in North Carolina for social mobility by The Wall Street Journal — helping first-generation and lower-income students find paths to prosperity. Designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, UNCG is a community-engaged research institution with a portfolio of more than $67M in research and creative activity. The University’s 1,100 faculty and 1,700 staff help create an annual economic impact for the Piedmont Triad region in excess of $1B. For additional information, please visit uncg.edu and follow UNCG on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Weatherspoon Art Museum
UNC Greensboro
1005 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC 27412, (336) 334-5770, weatherspoon@uncg.edu

For more information or press images, contact:
Loring Mortensen, (336) 256-1451, lamorten@uncg.edu