The Edith Gilchrist Hamilton Gallery at Montreat College celebrates the visual arts and seeks to educate students while enhancing the campus and surrounding community through contemporary and historical art exhibitions, lectures, and campus events. Opened in 1997, the gallery’s name honors Mrs. Edith Gilchrist Hamilton, a longtime Montreat cottager who loved the beauty and serenity of the Western Carolina mountains. Mrs. Hamilton, a native of Charlotte, N.C., attended Gunston Hall in Washington, D.C., and Hollins College in Roanoke, Va. In 1934, she married Mr. Herman Prioleau Hamilton of Chester, S.C., one of the founders of Interstate Securities Company of Charlotte. Her parents, Ethel Porter Gilchrist and Peter Spence Gilchrist, were among the early summer residents of Montreat, and built what is now the Foreman Cottage on Greybeard Trail. Thanks to the generosity of the families of Mrs. Hamilton and Mrs. Edith Hamilton Kunhle (her daughter), as well as many friends, Mrs. Hamilton’s love of both Montreat and the arts lives on in the gallery that bears her name. Founded and guided by Professor Emeritus of Art Jim Southerland from 1997-2016, the gallery is now curated by Professor of Communication Dr. Joseph Martin.
Into the Groove: A Celebration of the Art of Vinyl LP Cover Design
Dr. Joseph Martin (February 1 – May 8, 2021)
For many years when it came to popular music, seeing was believing. Album covers supplied images to accompany every note and beat of a performer’s latest work. The art that dressed up the cardboard sleeves protecting vinyl records didn’t simply hype sales — it served up a visual rush mixed with musical showmanship that made an indelible impression. As album graphics are now mostly reduced to small thumbnails accompanying downloads (a miniaturization process that is one of the many byproducts of the streaming takeover) it’s easy to forget that commercial art, in the era of the long-played vinyl record, rose to a new level of achievement. A current exhibition at Montreat College provides a punchy, colorful reminder.
“Into the Groove: A Celebration of the Art of Vinyl LP Cover Design” pays homage to the creative triumphs of more than five decades of music package artists. The show features album cover art from the collection of Prof. Joseph Martin, Ph.D., who teaches journalism and graphic design in Montreat College’s Department of English, Communication, and Language. “I grew up with the twin waves of pop music and commercial art both crashing down all around me,” says Martin. “Even now I can remember Peter Maxx lunchboxes and eight-track tapes. LP covers became part of my visual vocabulary early on and remained so until cardboard longboxes for CDs became a thing. When you were young album covers just carried this whopping impact that’s difficult to capture in words. They were magic. Revisiting the square canvases now, I am struck again by their power and surprising visual sophistication, whether on a set by X, a Partridge Family album, or an Alex Steinweiss jacket.”
Today, Alex Steinweiss is hailed as the father of the modern album cover. He produced the first commercial music packaging for a 33” vinyl disc in 1938. Three of his designs are hung immediately in the library’s upstairs foyer as part of the exhibit. Other covers on display include titles from Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt, Sam Cooke, Kim Carnes, Tonio K., and Black Mountain native, Roberta Flack. The designs on display also include material from the archives of noted art directors Chris Whorf, Kosh, and Beverly Weinstein.
Hoof & Wing
Rebecca Hawkinson (November 14-December 11, 2019)
Artist Rebecca Hawkinson brings a new collection of 20 original oil paintings and drawings in a solo show to the Gilchrist Gallery on the Montreat College campus. “Hoof & Wing” is a celebration of life in motion, with horses and birds taking flight amidst many textured backgrounds. The paintings are a contemporary play on the organic textures of the cave walls at Lascaux France, which houses the 20,000-year-old Paleolithic art of the Dordogne region.
A connection to France has often played a role for King Hawkinson, a Black Mountain native, whose travels to Europe as a young artist lead to the exploration of the most ancient arts of the cultures of Dordogne and the Etruscans in Italy. Landscapes of Western North Carolina and from France sit comfortably side by side horses and winged hawks in this new show by King Hawkinson.
The paintings at Lascaux offer a peek into the importance of symbolic movements and relationships between animal and man, movement and rest. Hawkinson says, “The mystery of our connection with nature is the main idea behind the images and textures in these paintings. Animals like these are like us and not like us, and our connection to them is still very much fundamental question for contemporary people even as it was for ancient man.”
The show opens with a reception from 5-7 on November 14 in the Nelson Bell Library upstairs in the Gilchrist Gallery.
The work will be on display through December 11th, 2019.
Southerland Art: Seeing Things Backward Since 1978
Jim Southerland (September 13 – November 16, 2018)
Montreat College will host an exhibit by longtime professor Jim Southerland titled “Southerland Art: Seeing Things Backward Since 1978” from September 13 to November 16, 2018. The exhibit will be on display in the Hamilton Gallery, which is located on the second floor of the college’s L. Nelson Bell Library. There will be two artist receptions on September 13, one from 12 to 1:30 p.m. and another from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
“Many people at Montreat who know Jim as a dedicated teacher may not be aware that he is also an accomplished and critically-acclaimed artist,” says Hamilton Gallery Curator and Montreat College Professor of Communication Dr. Joseph Martin. “This new exhibition documenting his creative gifts seems like a perfect event to help inaugurate the college’s new Fine & Performing Arts Department. The Hamilton Gallery is excited to be able to invite both the campus and the wider community to a wonderful show.”
The exhibit will feature over 35 works created by Prof. Southerland using his unique “camera obscura” method, which he initially invented in 1978 as a way draw portraits of children. Over four decades, he has applied the process to other media, as well, and this exhibit will feature landscapes and a few fascinating still lifes in addition to one portrait.
Professor Southerland has taught art at Montreat College for 30 years. And the college is proud to celebrate both his art and the wonderfully strong recovery he has experienced following a disastrous heart attack which resulted in heart transplant surgery in January 2015. The exhibit is a celebration of both his life and his faithful pursuit of his calling and career.
Patchwork Moments: Images from the Fabric of Life
Nicole Rabon (November 2 – December 15, 2017)
Nicole Rabon grew up in Durham, N.C., and graduated from Montreat College in 2006 having majored in human services and minored in environmental studies. But she was surprised to discover a passion outside her areas of primary study. While at Montreat she enrolled in a photography class, “to fulfill an elective requirement,” she laughingly recalls. It was there she met Professor Jim Southerland, whose encouragement she credits with sparking her passion for photography and lighting a torch she carried out of the college gates. She says Southerland told her she had a photographic eye and a “unique perspective.” And it’s that perspective that is on full display in “A Patchwork of Moments: Images from the Fabric of Life,” the Hamilton Gallery exhibition featuring her photography. “Each of my images is the result of patient hours spent in the field, exploring, learning, feeling, and seeing,” she says. “Occasionally everything aligns and I get to bring home meaningful images, but I enjoy every minute of the experience regardless of my photographic success.
Mnemonic: Everyday Memories from the Montreat Cove
Whitney Dumford (April 17 – May 12, 2017)
Whitney Dumford is a class of 2017 Montreat College graduate from Mooresville, North Carolina. She studied communications and art, along with special interest classes in environmental science and outdoor education. She hopes to pursue a lifestyle that includes photography, design, and plenty of travel. This pursuit took shape after graduation in Cimarron, New Mexico, where Whitney worked as a photographer at Philmont Scout Ranch.
“When you think about Montreat College, what images come to your mind?” asks Whitney. “Do you see stone covered buildings perched on mountains? Perhaps an archway big enough to drive through, and a lake that you have inevitably walked alongside, peering into the water to see trees’ reverse images. These are all things that can be used to describe Montreat’s unique beauty, but what I have found to be true, and what I hope you have found as well, is that there is so much more to be seen in this complex place. When I was approached with the idea to create a portrait of Montreat in a series of photographs, I thought about the obvious imagery mentioned before, but I imagined other things more prominently. Picturing adventures with friends hiking mountains, quiet moments in shared living spaces, bright red leaves of autumn trees, sobering fog settling in the valley, callused fingers from interacting with the earth; I knew that I wanted to take the time to showcase common day-to-day life within the setting of Montreat and its surroundings. Photography has always been, for me, a way to seek, share, and remember the often overlooked beauty of life’s moments. “Mnemonic” is a collection of everyday memories from my personal life in Montreat, pieced together to create a visual representation of a story of life here, from one student’s perspective. I hope that these moments remind you of the unique beauty of the Montreat cove (and of your own ordinary life, too.)”