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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a new home for making art at Duke University.

Duke Arts Partners with North Carolina Arts Council for Spring 2019 Documentary Initiative

Published By Katy Clune
Published on: January 10, 2019

This creative collaboration pairs Duke students and other volunteers with North Carolina artists to produce documentary portraits.

four women in Montagnard traditional dress

The Folklife Program of the North Carolina Arts Council founded the Millennial Traditional Artist Project in 2016 to serve the rising generation of artists shaped by, and reshaping, the state’s traditions—from music and dance, to craft and foodways. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, over 100 artists under 40 were interviewed. Later this year, the Arts Council will publish a statewide directory to showcase these diverse creatives and publicize their skills and availabilities.

Through these many conversations and the first Millennial Traditional Artist gathering in Black Mountain in 2017, arts council staff discovered that emerging artists often need high-quality photography.

“High resolution photography is a critical tool in the artist’s marketing kit. Such photographs are essential for CD covers, festival signage, newspaper and magazine coverage, and for high quality website content,” says Sally Peterson, folklife director, North Carolina Arts Council. “Young artists working within North Carolina’s diverse traditional arts often have difficulty accessing professional development services that help them to present themselves to the public beyond their home communities.”

Jessica Lang. Photo by Bill Cokas (Arts Wake Forest).

This spring, Duke Arts is partnering with the North Carolina Arts Council to pair interested volunteers with an artist in the region to produce a documentary portrait. The resulting portraits will be released in the statewide directory, offered to artists for professional publicity, and a selection will be exhibited at the Rubenstein Arts Center gallery in summer 2019.

Individuals interested in participating are invited to an artist talk and information session with Tom Pich and Barry Bergey, authors of Folk Masters: A Portrait of America in the Ruby on Wednesday, February 6. For 25 years, Pich has travelled the country to photograph National Heritage Award recipients in their homes, studios, and the American landscape.

The Rubenstein Arts Center is also hosting the second Millennial Traditional Artist Gathering on Saturday, March 23.

“Documentary photography is a strength of the arts at Duke,” says Tom Rankin, director, MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts and professor of the practice of art and documentary. “This collaboration deepens the ways the Rubenstein Arts Center, and our undergraduate and graduate students can engage and support working artists in our region.”

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