Art Faculty Receive NCAC Artist Fellowships

Monday, October 17, 2016

Department of Art & Art History faculty members Thomas Schmidt, assistant professor of interdisciplinary 3D studio, and Andrea Vail, part-time instructor in fibers, have received 2016-17 Artist Fellowship Awards from the North Carolina Arts Council (NCAC). Schmidt and Vail are among 17 statewide recipients of awards in the field of visual arts/craft. Artists receive the fellowship to support creative development and the creation of new work. Recipients were selected by panels comprised of artists and arts professionals with expertise in each discipline.

Vail, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at UNC Charlotte, investigates contemporary American society and its objects – specifically home goods deemed stylistically obsolete or unattractive by the standards of 21st-century mainstream culture. Working with a variety of media, combined with traditional textile techniques and preexisting objects, she creates sculpture, site-specific environments, and collaborative exchange. The NCAC Artist Fellowship, she says, will support “a project that will involve the community as both content and collaborator. The goal is to bring unsuspecting and otherwise unconnected people together to create sculptures and build community.”

Prior to coming to UNC Charlotte, Schmidt worked for four years as a professor of ceramic design in the Alfred/CAFA Ceramic Design for Industry program at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. In 2012 he and Jeffrey Miller co-founded the design team Recycled China, whose work uses industrial waste within China to create architectural tile and sculptural objects.

As demonstrated in the piece “Hybrid Skins,” created for the recent exhibition, Digital Dialogues, at the Projective Eye Gallery, Schmidt is interested in the merging of digital processes with the traditional processes of making by hand. “I am fascinated by the history of ceramics as a representation of the handmade and how the use of digital methods might challenge this preconception,” he says. The NCAC fellowship will support the production of a new body of sculptural work that continues to explore the boundaries between the hand-made and digitally fabricated in the field of ceramic art and craft. 

For more information, please see the announcement from the North Carolina Arts Council.