10 By 10 Festival Moves To Late 2017

The ArtsCenter is announcing its decision to postpone the annual 10 By 10 In The Triangle Festival of New Short Plays until late 2017. 


“We are committed to continuing to produce the celebrated 10 By 10 In The Triangle Festival of New Short Plays in 2017, but want to produce the festival within a time frame that enables The ArtsCenter to build and grow the quality and reputation of this festival.  10 By 10 has been a beloved institution for 15 years and we are excited and honored to continue this Carrboro tradition,” says ArtsCenter Executive Director Dan Mayer.


The ArtsCenter values and celebrates our local theatre community and looks forward to continuing our theatrical programming.  This includes partnerships with local groups, such as Pauper Players — premiering their new production of In the Heights April 7-10 — Company Carolina, Triangle Playwrights, No Shame Theatre, and One Song, who just produced their annual Feb 48 show of original short plays written and produced in 48 hours.


The ArtsCenter is in the planning stages for the next 10 By 10 festival and encourages theater companies and theater leaders that would like to partner and help envision the next festival to contact us.  We will issue a call for scripts 4-5 months prior to the new date of the festival. If you are interested in learning more about 10 By 10 In The Triangle, please contact The ArtsCenter’s Executive Director, Daniel Mayer, at dmayer@artscenterlive.org.

Now Hiring for House Manager position

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro is hiring for the House Manager position


This is a part-time, support position responsible for overseeing the box office during evening, daytime, and weekend events and classes. Duties include but are not limited to: selling tickets to events, registering students for classes, handling money and basic box office accounting reports, setting up for performances, and assisting other departments with administrative tasks.


To apply for the House Manager position, submit your resume and cover letter to boxofficemanager@artscenterlive.org.





The house manager is responsible for overseeing the box office during daytime, evening and weekend events and classes, selling tickets to events, and registering students for ArtSchool classes.  House Managers must have excellent customer service skills since they are often the first person with whom patrons will interact with. It is the house manager’s responsibility to assist everyone who comes to the box office and to have a presence in the box office at all times. House Managers report to the Box Office Manager and Managing Director. Administrative tasks may also be assigned by other department heads.


It is the responsibility of each House Manager to cover her or his assigned hours.  In the event that a House Manager is unable to cover his or her shift due to illness or other unavoidable circumstance, it is her/his responsibility to obtain alternate coverage (from among the other house managers) for the days s/he will not be able to work.


In unusual circumstances, when coverage is not possible to obtain, the house manager will inform her/his supervisor that coverage is unavailable.  The supervisor is then responsible for house management of that particular day.


The House Manager is responsible for the smooth operation of performances and classes held at The ArtsCenter, including but not limited to:




  • Check the set-up of Theater(s) to make sure seating arrangement(s) meets the needs of the performance(s).


  • Assure the needs of the performers are met and that the show starts on time, and if the show cannot start on time, to keep the audience apprised of the situation.


  • Make curtain announcements when necessary.


  • Make sure theater is presentable after events- this includes doing a general walkthrough of the theater and picking up trash if necessary.  


  • Manage Box Office, including selling tickets, reconciling ticket sales and paying performers.


  • Manage issues and problems that may occur during performances.


  • Crowd management.


  • Overseeing bartenders;  reconciling bar sales at the end of the evening; finding a replacement bartender or covering themselves if the bartender does not show up


  • Training and supervising community service workers and volunteers.




  • Oversee setup and cleanup.


  • Manage issues and problems that may occur during rental.


  • Settle payment.




  • Make sure classrooms are set up as needed.


  • Assist instructors with any special needs.


  • Sell & reconcile swing tickets on Tuesday & Wednesday nights.


  • Register students for classes when possible.




Communicate with Operations Director about any issues that arise during their shifts through the House Manager logbook or other means.


Oversee the completion of the list of chores for community service workers left by the Box Office Manager or Managing Director, and ensure its completion.  If something is unable to be completed, a note must be left for the supervisor as to why it was left uncompleted. House managers are responsible for the completion of these tasks.


Oversee the general cleanliness and appearance of the facility. This includes ensuring all chairs and tables are returned to their proper places on a daily basis, and checking cleanliness of the lobby, gallery, and bathrooms periodically throughout shifts.

The ArtsCenter Opposes Immigration Ban


The Board of Directors of The ArtsCenter has endorsed the following resolution regarding the recent executive orders on immigration:


“We recognize these are stressful times for many of our community. Recently, President Trump signed two Executive Orders related to immigration.  One of the orders restricts citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States and the other reflects his campaign promise to build a wall on our southern border. These Executive Orders are unjust and must be overturned.


These actions have heightened a sense of anxiety for many, having a chilling effect on the free flow of residents and visitors to the US at our airports and borders.  Carrboro and Chapel Hill are home to citizens from across the globe; over 17% of our residents were born in another country.  Our diversity is our strength. The targeting and stigmatizing of our Muslim and Latino neighbors, co-workers, and families has tested our resolve.


At The ArtsCenter we present programming from around the world; this Spring we are hosting musicians from many countries including Cambodia, Mali, Mongolia and France.  Our mission is to celebrate world culture and the diversity of creative expression that unites us all.  These Executive Orders have stifled global exchange and betray our country as an example of tolerance and acceptance of people and cultures from all corners of the world.


Through our educational programming, The ArtsCenter works with over 30,000 students from all over the world.  For example, last summer we hosted seventeen students from Iraq visiting North Carolina on a tour sponsored by the State Department promoting greater cultural understanding.  These students spent the afternoon in one of our classrooms learning techniques for filmmaking and documenting their experiences on their smartphones.


Whether in a classroom or in our theater, we are committed to the well-being of each and every student and patron that walks through our doors. We are committed to a community where all students, families, audiences and staff are safe, respected, and engaged. We expect everyone to be treated positively, without fear of bullying or intimidation.


We call upon all of us to remember what makes America special – it is our diversity, our deep sense of justice; our fundamental belief in personal liberty; and our willingness to stand for and with those in need.”


“I believe in our constitution and the freedoms, protections, and opportunities it provides. Together, we must defend the values we hold dearly and stand for each other. The ArtsCenter stands with all residents of the Triangle. Thank you for standing with us.”   — Daniel Mayer, Executive Director

Laughter is the Best Medicine: NCCAF 2017

Interview: Zach Ward
Posted by Jenks Miller


The ArtsCenter is gearing up for the 2017 North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival (NCCAF), a multi-venue comedy showcase and workshop featuring college groups and professional acts, improvisers, sketch writers and standup comics that will take place in Carrboro February 15th – 26th. Over the years, the NCCAF has grown both in size and stature; it is now recognized as one of the largest independent comedy festivals in the country. Recently, NCCAF founder and executive producer Zach Ward has emphasized the role of comedy in bolstering our emotional resilience during turbulent times. We spoke with Ward about some of the upcoming festival’s highlights, improv’s penchant for adaptability, and comedy as self-care.



Photo courtesy of NCCAF.


The ArtsCenter: The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival is in its seventeenth year. Carrboro/Chapel Hill was a very different place when the festival got off the ground in 2001! What inspired you to create the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival back then? How has the festival changed since then? And do those changes parallel changes you’ve noticed in the town itself?


Zach Ward: We started in 2001 so this will be our 17th annual event. With everything that has happened personally and professionally since then, it seems like a lifetime ago. We were all so different ― Chapel Hill, UNC, comedy festivals in general ― I was 22 when we started NCCAF, producing the fest out of my apartment in Chicago, a block North of Wrigley Field. I produced the first festivals as a way to teach and to foster a local appreciation for the type of comedy I wanted to eventually do myself, and see, in North Carolina. It took a decade and a lot more hustle than just our annual comedy party, but it worked. We did it. Now there are improv teams and troupes all over the Triangle performing “Chicago-style” improv, alt comedy shows and artists experimenting beyond the formats and shows that were popular at the time.


TAC: What can we expect from the NCCAF this year? Are there any highlights that stand out for you in particular?


ZW: I am very excited about how the programming for the festival has changed and stayed the same. Some artists make our fest an annual event, which has turned Chapel Hill, Carrboro and NCCAF into a comedy homecoming for a lot of acts. A large number of college teams have returned every year to perform at our festival for over a decade. This year we have booked headliner Aparna Nancherla, who will be on The ArtsCenter stage on Saturday Feb. 18th, and I am thrilled for festival artists and local audiences to see Aparna. This will be Aparna’s 3rd time at the festival, having first come to the festival in 2007 to perform with her improv team from Washington Improv Theatre in Washington, DC. She gained a significant amount of recognition in 2016, which has made her an “overnight success” (after dedicating the last 10 years to the work and the art of comedy).


Highlights at The ArtsCenter:


* RISK! podcast with Kevin Allison (feat. Eddie Brill, 13+ year talent coordinator for David Letterman)



* The Magic Negro and Other Blackness and AIL Podcast



* Aparna Nancherla (feat. local comics Hannah Strom and Brandy Brown)



* The Josh and Tamra Show (feat. Jim Henson-trained Muppeteer Josh Cohen)



* ImprovBoston and Billyhawk (Los Angeles) and The Magnet TourCo (New York)




TAC: In addition to serving as Executive Director of the NCCAF and the Artistic Director of DSI Comedy, you also teach improv comedy workshops to students and professionals in many different disciplines. I’m interested in the relationship between improv performance and business (or even “life”) skills. What are some of the specific tools students of improv comedy develop in your workshops? Much of improv comedy performance is based on confidence and adaptability – are these skills that can be learned, and then translated into other areas of life.


ZW: I work with corporate clients and non-profit organizations on how the applied skills of improvisation and comedy can be used for active listening, creativity in business, effective leadership, sales, and relationship building. Just in the last year YesAndLife has customized programs to teach teamwork, collaboration, overcome negativity and conflict resolution. Over 20 years since my initial pursuit of comedy just for laughs (which most students secretly want even when they won’t admit it, Read: the endorphin release knowing you were responsible for making someone laugh will always be the best drug) has transformed for me personally into a healthy obsession with compassion, empathy, and a continuing study of interpersonal dynamics.


TAC: The press release for the NCCAF announces that you will be donating some of the proceeds from this year’s festival to the NAACP and to Planned Parenthood. I suppose that speaks to our current political environment. As you put it, “Laughter may be the best (only) medicine we have over the next four years.” Can you discuss the relationship between the political arena and the stage? What does laughter do for us in times like these?


ZW: I’ve regularly posted the hashtag #laughtokeepfromcrying since we sat in the theater on November 8 and watched the (very UNfunny) election results roll in. I stand by comedy as a tool for self-care (#laughmore), as a way to break tension and lighten the emotional weight of communication, especially for the conversations we seem to be having daily in our current political environment. Modern improvisation was actually founded in the 60s by and alongside artists who were exploring comedy, improvised works and satirical sketch comedy, to push for social change. Satire then and now has the opportunity to passively educate an audience and highlight absurdity through entertainment. Laughter is the best medicine, this we know. With the repeal of the ACA it may soon be the only medicine my friends can afford. I always want to make sure we are able to help people laugh in the moment, but right now it was also important for me that we give to Planned Parenthood and the NAACP, orgs who will be actively helping people fight for basic human rights over the next 4 years.


The NCCAF takes place February 15th – 26th.  For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.nccomedyarts.com/shows

Update: 10 By 10 and Theatre at The ArtsCenter

The ArtsCenter values and celebrates our local theatre community and is committed to continuing our theatrical programming, including partnerships with local groups such as Pauper Players, Company Carolina, Triangle Playwrights, No Shame Theatre, and One Song, who just completed a well-received run of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s classic You Can’t Take It With You in the Earl & Rhoda Wynn Theatre.


The ArtsCenter will continue to produce the celebrated 10 By 10 In The Triangle Festival of New Short Plays in 2017, and will issue a call for scripts in the next four to six weeks.  10 By 10 has been a beloved institution for 15 years and we are excited and honored to continue this Carrboro tradition.


We are currently looking for theatre professionals and community leaders to help shape and produce the festival in 2017 and beyond. If you are interested in helping to produce 10 By 10 In The Triangle, please contact The ArtsCenter’s Executive Director, Daniel Mayer, at dmayer@artscenterlive.org or (919) 929-2787 ext. 217.

ArtsCenter Fundraising Dinner at Provence


As we close out our year and look forward to a successful 2017, we would like to cordially invite you to Dinner at Provence to benefit The ArtsCenter and all of its wonderful programs.


The ArtsCenter thanks you for your generous and continuous support of our programs. Without dedicated donors like you, our classes, concerts, residencies, and performances would not be accessible to those that need it most.


Date: January 5, 2017 at 6PM
Where: Provence (203 W. Weaver St. Carrboro, NC 27510)
Tickets: $95 – click here to purchase
If you have any questions, please contact Connor Lillis at clillis@artscenterlive.org or by phone at 919-929-2787 ext. 214




ArtsCenter Fundraiser


“Le Menu Provençal”


Premier Plat

Oysters on the half shell with mignonette and goat cheese

  • 2014 Domain Moreau-Naudet, Chablis


Deuxième Plat

Bisque of Roasted Red Pepper and Chèvre

  • 2015 Gérard Fiou, Pouilly-Fumé


La Salade

Salad of Arugula, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Beet Confit, and Chèvre

  • 2014 Château de Villeneuve, Saumur Blanc


Troisième Plat

  • Duet of Grilled Atlantic Lobster Tail and NC Scallops

Red Skin Potatoes, Haricots Verts, Beurre Blanc

  • Filet de Canard Wellington

Duck breast roasted in puff pastry, Tartiflette, Asparagus, Juniper Demi-Glace

  • Filet d’Agneau

Lamb medallions, seared on the grill, Artichoke Barigoule,

  • Jardinière de Légume

Chef’s Vegetable Selection

  • 2013 Domaine Sébastien Magnien, Pinot Noir
  • 202 Sequoia Grove, Napa Chardonnay



Le Dessert

Chocolate Fondant with Roasted Walnut Ice Cream

  • Presidential Port

Read our Early November eNewsletter!


We have so much planned for this holiday season, we couldn’t fit it all in one eNewsletter, so we split it in two!  Our Early November eNewsletter is out now, and a second eNewsletter for the latter half of the month will be hitting inboxes next week!  Check it out for the latest news about ArtsCenter classes, concerts, promotions and more!


Click here to view our Early November eNewsletter.


Want to get our eNewsletter every month? Sign up by entering your email address into the “eNewsletter Signup” box at the top right of the page and clicking “Join!”

Read our October eNewsletter!


Our October eNewsletter is out!  Check it out for the latest news about ArtsCenter classes, concerts, promotions and more!


Click here to view our October eNewsletter.


Want to get our eNewsletter every month? Sign up by entering your email address into the “eNewsletter Signup” box at the top right of the page and clicking “Join!”

Season Brochure and ArtSchool Fall Catalog Now Online!


We’re happy to announce that you can now peruse our 2016/2017 Season Brochure and our Fall 2016 ArtSchool Catalog online from your computer or phone!  Our brand new interactive digital catalog system allows you to flip the pages, learn about our performance and class offerings, and even buy tickets and register directly from the catalog by clicking on the name of a show or course!  Try it out by clicking on a publication below:


2016-2017-season-catalog-front-cover      fall-2016-catalog-cover












Interview:  Dan Mayer, The ArtsCenter’s New Executive Director

Posted by Jenks Miller


Dan Mayer, veteran arts advocate and attorney from Seattle, Washington, took the reigns as The ArtsCenter’s Executive Director in the fall of 2015.  In the months since his relocation to Carrboro, Dan has been getting to know the Triangle and we’ve been getting to know Dan.  As The ArtsCenter gears up for its summer programming, we took a moment to check in with him about his impressions of the Triangle’s arts community and to talk a bit about his vision for The ArtsCenter itself.


You’ve been personally and professionally invested in community-based nonprofits long before your move to The ArtsCenter in Carrboro; your career over the past decade and a half has included a variety of leadership roles in arts organizations.  Could you recount one or two highlights from your career as a nonprofit Executive Director and an arts and entertainment attorney?


The most rewarding experiences for me as an arts administrator have been to watch that “aha” moment with an audience or classroom.  That moment when a light bulb is switched and an audience gets to its feet not because it’s the end of the show but as an expression of a memorable evening that inspired them and gave them new insights into their lives or the lives of others.  Similarly when a classroom of kids is all creating individual pieces of art but you as the teacher feel the energy of the group around the power of participating in the creative process.


As an attorney much of my time was spent protecting and defending that creative process.  In the 1990s I worked to defend the principles of public funding of all the arts including art we don’t agree with or is not our taste. I was privileged to work to help defend the rights of artists that present minority viewpoints and challenge society and try to move the needle of public opinion.  Art should make us question our assumptions and help us find common ground as a society.


At this point, you’ve lived in Carrboro for the better part of a year.  What are some of your impressions of the Triangle as you settle in?  Any favorite restaurants so far?


I’ve enjoyed getting a chance to explore the region and visit new venues.  There is an amazing abundance of places to hear great music and see theater every weekend in a great variety of settings.  I’ve attended wonderful chamber concerts in a retirement community, awesome stage performances in outdoor amphitheaters and shows in small intimate clubs and theaters.  My hobby is to count houses—after doing this work for so many years I can estimate crowds with amazing accuracy.  It’s almost automatic when I walk into a venue.


I’ve had lots of great food since I’ve moved to the area—there isn’t much Southern Food in the Seattle area—and I’ve enjoyed learning about the mysteries of the biscuit.  People take their biscuits very seriously here.  I enjoyed special occasions at Acme with my family and always head to Venable or Glasshalfull for a great lunch or dinner.  Of course, opening a Rise next to The ArtsCenter has made us rethink getting a company gym membership.


How does the Triangle’s arts community compare to that of Seattle?


In some ways the communities are very different.  There is a strong Asian influence in many of the arts in the Northwest and Washington is ground zero for Glass Art because of the thirty year impact that Dale Chihuly and the Pilchuk School has had on the area.  Until I moved here, I was not aware of all the variations on Bluegrass Music—I think there are more hybrids of Bluegrass than Eskimo words for snow.  I am also very impressed with the vibrant visual arts scene in the Triangle; there are many excellent arts programs throughout the area and we all seem to work together and just build audience for various First/Second/Third/Fourth Fridays.


I’ve enjoyed meeting local playwrights and seeing work written and produced by local actors; I’ve seen some amazing theater since moving to the region.  Unfortunately, one thing that Seattle area has in common with the Triangle is that it is tough to make a living in theater in both regions and we lose talent to cities with commercial theater and film industries.


How have your observations about the Triangle’s arts community influenced the direction you want to take The ArtsCenter?  What is your vision for The ArtsCenter’s future at this point?


There is remarkable ownership of this organization by artists, audiences and community members—everyone has a story to tell about a memorable play or concert or about their kids attending camps many years ago.  That loyalty is the greatest asset the organization has and should not be taken for granted.  That loyalty, however, also brings with it many differing opinions of the path the organization should take in the future.  It’s my job to listen to the stakeholders and navigate a direction that ensures the financial and programmatic strength of the organization for the decades to come.


An important component of my job is to chart a path to a new facility for The ArtsCenter.  Focusing on the facility without building the programming would be a huge mistake however.  We must continue to our educational programming, building on our reputation of excellence and developing opportunities for outreach in the community.  Orange County is changing and The ArtsCenter must adapt to these changes in demographics and community needs to remain relevant to all.


The ArtsCenter has a history of working with other arts organizations to help realize their own visions and to bolster the strength of the Triangle’s arts scene in general.  Could you explain why collaboration among arts organizations and community members is so important?  And what is it that The ArtsCenter can offer in this kind of collaboration?


The ArtsCenter is a home for many collaborations –we are a venue and a partner for dozens of local arts organizations and projects regionally annually.


Collaboration is essential because a/ none of us have the resources to serve the broad network of needs in our community and by working together we can bring the arts to a larger and more diverse audience, and, b/ because many art forms are closely connected and through collaboration we can demonstrate the intersection of music and theater or visual arts and dance—they are all means of expression addressing issues of our shared humanity.


The ArtsCenter Issues Statement on HB2



The Board of Directors of The ArtsCenter has unanimously passed a resolution condemning House Bill 2:


“The ArtsCenter is committed to serving the needs of North Carolina’s vibrant and vital creative community by fairly providing access, instruction and resources to all its citizens.  We join the many voices in our community who uphold Carrboro’s proud tradition of individual expression and mutual respect.


We oppose HB2 as an unnecessary, unjust and regressive piece of legislation that strips LGBTQ+ citizens of their legal protections and right to be treated with fairness and respect, while further disadvantaging marginalized communities.  This law is damaging to the social and economic fabric of North Carolina and does not reflect the values of our organization, our community, or our state.


The ArtsCenter urges a complete repeal of HB2.  We are committed to supporting the right of all people to creatively and authentically express themselves without fear of discrimination and bigotry.  We insist on the right of our audiences, students, faculty and staff to be treated with dignity and equality.  We take a stand against oppressive and misguided legislation and reaffirm our mission to provide a safe and welcoming space that accepts enriches the lives of all members of our community, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.”


In order to do our part in the fight to repeal this heinous legislation, The ArtsCenter is making a tangible contribution to the cause.  100% of The ArtsCenter’s commission on the sale of work in May’s Nicholson Gallery exhibition will be donated to organizations fighting HB2.  In addition, proceeds from the sale our new The ArtsCenter travel mugs will be donated to the LGBTQ Center of Durham to support their work improving the quality of life for LGBTQ+ people in the area.


View the full press release here.


Interview: Mary Carter Taub’s Arts Immersion Residency

Posted by Jenks Miller

Mary Carter Taub’s room-sized, neon duct tape installations look like a subway map, sharp lines crossing and recrossing each other at odd angles, resolute in their confusion, seeking every destination at once.  Taub’s work has appeared on buses, in museums and restaurants, in markets and malls; the effect of her installations in consumer spaces is electrifying and disorienting: bold colors demand our attention, arousing both our animal instincts and our rational faculties as analytical thinkers.  Overwhelmed, we want to venture further into this strange new space.  

Taub is currently teaching an AfterSchool Arts Immersion Residency, working with students to create a mural on the floor of the Nicholson Gallery.  The residency is funded by parents, friends of The ArtsCenter, the Nicholson Foundation and Orange County.  The finished mural will be featured in the opening night of the ArtsCenter’s student exhibit on Friday, March 11th.  I spoke with Mary Carter Taub as she began her residency at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.


Photo: Nick Pironio

Photo: Nick Pironio

Many Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents will recognize your work from the “mobile mural” on the sides of a Chapel Hill transit bus (what we here at The ArtsCenter have been calling the “art bus”).  Much of your other work is displayed in schools and in common areas where people work and play.  Could you address the appeal of public spaces and discuss the ways in which your work transforms them?


I enjoy making art oriented in public space, outside of the traditional art museum and gallery network, allowing access to a broader audience. Public art is appealing because it highlights the overlap of art and everyday life, showing that both can even be one and the same. In my mind, public art is efficient, merging form and function. I like the challenge of connecting people in everyday life with a familiar space that has been altered (and hopefully energized) by my work to change the way the space is ordinarily viewed. It recontextualizes the space and is inclusive and accessible.

Not sure if this is relevant but…

Behavioral scientist Daniel Goleman describes creative organizations as a balance between explorer bees and worker bees: creative types and “law and order” types who keep things running smoothly. This metaphor resonates with me and explains why I am drawn to public art. It allows me to flex both my right brain and left brain muscles while satisfying my Type A and Type B tendencies under one hat that blends creativity and business/ government/ industry.



Is there a specific message you hope to convey in your public art installations?


In a macro sense I am interested in materialism and consumerism in our culture and my work is filtered through that lens from the use of color in my work (an off-the-shelf palette) and the choice of materials (usually, industrial goods) and imagery (typically mass produced). In a micro sense I am interested in my work connecting to the site in a way that resonates with the community. Before I begin a project I research to understand the site (and the community) within the context of its physical and cultural surroundings. I strive to add aesthetic distinctiveness and relevance to the site and the community with my artwork, otherwise, what’s the point?


Your work inserts itself directly into the dialog established by pop art, simultaneously critiquing and exploiting our voracious appetites as material consumers.  If anything, our culture has become even more materialistic than it was in the days of Warhol and Lichtenstein.  Is there a common thread running from the work of those artists in the ‘60’s to your work today?


Yes, definitely. I pluck materials and images from current consumer and popular cultures and dislocate them to recontextualize meaning. I think my work carries much less irony than that of many of the 60s artists and I am also not interested in kitsch which was prevalent in much of the 60s work. I am interested in mass-produced industrial products as materials (such as duct tape or electrical cables) because they have anonymity and less fixed meaning and less cultural significance than most consumer products that rely heavily on branding (such as a Barbie doll or Levi’s jeans).


I more directly identify with the 80s (vs the 60s) pop artists: Keith Haring, Basquiat, Sandy Skoglund and Stephen Sprouse. When I was 22 my mentor in grad school in the early 90s was Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt and he encouraged me to embrace my love of everyday materials– that was a real a-ha moment.


Researching, scouting and shopping for materials is an important part of my process. I tend to approach materials from a model of abundance (versus a model of scarcity) and try to imagine how I would use the material if I had tons of it and plenty of time to use it. I source materials from Home Depot, U-Line Corp, Wal-Mart and salvage sites to name a few.



In your artist statement, you say, “At a very visceral level, I am both mesmerized and horrified by these pop sensibilities and consumer behaviors.”  I certainly experience the immediate, emotional response your work evokes.  Do you feel that there is an additional political angle to your work, or are you concerned with the personal, emotional experience of material consumption?


I struggle with being seduced by material goods and being disgusted by them so in that regard I see my work as observation and reflection on how I currently live. My work does not aim to deliver a didactic or moral message on consumerism.


That said, I am a product of the 1980s when consumer consumption was at an all time high in the United States. Prior to the 1950s people bought things because they needed them. Over the decades there has been a steady shift from buying something you need to buying something you want because you can. Today’s purchases have sky rocketed to an unprecedented state of consumption that is in hyper overdrive and seems to be holding steady. Even in challenging economic times, we continue to buy lots of stuff that we do not need. My work reflects this material existence and is both celebration and repulsion of modern day purchasing power.


Whereas pop art often depicts identifiable images borrowed from mass culture, your work uses the raw materials of our modern lifestyles to create gently surreal abstractions.  As an example, one of your sketches (which, we should note, are not “sketches” in the usual sense of the word, but are more like smaller-scale concept pieces) depicts coiled extension cables wrapped in neon zip-ties and boasting the slight protrusion of a small colored light bulb.  At first glance, the piece looks like it’s been clipped from a hardware catalog.  But looking closer, I’m struck with the absurdity and even the otherworldly beauty of these gadgets, as well as with the humor in the way you’ve juxtaposed the objects and their colors.  Could you comment on the kind of abstraction at work in your pieces?


The materials in my work are relatable and accessible yet they are a departure from reality so abstract in that sense. I like to think that my work lends new significance to run-of-the-mill goods and products while exploring mass consumption on a personal scale and playing with abstracted ideas related to ephemera and permanence and the abstracted power of goods/ purchases.


My work is primarily process-oriented and improvisational and I rely heavily on intuition to make it. Even my permanent public artworks are process based at their core. For example, Mobile Mural was fabricated from a collage drawing (about the size of a skateboard) that I created by affixing colorful duct tape to Xerox paper. Many times I misplaced a piece of duct tape on the paper but it is not possible to remove it without ripping the paper so then the artwork takes a new direction because of that one “mistake.” It is a lemons-to-lemonade approach and I just make it work. It seems like a fitting metaphor for how we live life, react, adapt and move on.




Your residency at The ArtsCenter will involve the students in our afterschool program.  How do children tend to interact with your work?


Children usually have a very visceral response, one of happiness and excitement, to my work. I am always so touched by how open-minded they are in embracing the unknown. Most kids spend their days in school where there is a heavy emphasis on structure, fine motor skills and staying within the lines. I think they detect authenticity and playfulness in my work and they can stay right there on the surface or they can delve deeper if they are curious.


I enjoy collaborating with kids to make art like the floor mural at ArtsCenter call Floored! Many heads and hands building the artwork means the work takes a direction that would not happen if I was working solo. Working in an improvisational way requires mindfulness and active engagement for everything to flow and I am repeatedly impressed by the kids’ ability to be present and in the moment. I wish I could say the same for most adults.



Spotlight on Silent Auction Artist Heather Gerni

Heather Gerni poses with one of her Intuitive paintings

Heather Gerni poses with one of her Intuitive paintings

Heather Gerni creates her vibrant and often whimsical paintings and mixed media work through Intuitive Painting, a process that allows each piece of work to naturally unfold and reveal itself to the artist. With Intuitive Painting, less importance is placed on the finished piece. The artist focuses more on an authentic creative process that resonates with him or her.


“The most important thing to me as an artist is to stay true to myself. I do this by embracing vulnerability, trusting myself, and eliminating all external factors and considerations when I’m painting.”


This inspiring way of creating art encouraged Heather to begin teaching Intuitive Painting several years ago. She hopes to help and inspire others to find their own artistic voice, passion and confidence through creative exploration and self discovery. She currently teaches classes and workshops at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro and paints in her small studio in her home in Pittsboro.


Heather has generously donated an original mixed media piece to The ArtsCenter’s Silent Auction, on display throughout the month of June in the Nicholson Gallery.  To place a bid for this artwork, visit our box office  or call us at (919) 929-2787.  Bids starting at $120 will be accepted until 5PM on June 28th.

Heather Gerni - Hecate

Heather Gerni – Hecate

Learn more about Heather and her work at