Spring 2024, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

A street view of the Turchin Center’s outdoor art. From left: Bob Doster, A Memorial, Jenny Irene Miller, (name) and David Boyajian’s, Silver Seeds

 The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is the largest contemporary art museum in the region, connecting downtown Boone, NC to the campus of Appalachian State University, and serving as a cultural gateway between the university and community. The Turchin Center engages local, regional, national and international visitors in unique and meaningful experiences with the visual arts by offering a wide array of dynamic and accessible exhibition, education, and collection programs. These programs inspire lifelong engagement with the visual arts, support the university’s teaching mission, and create opportunities for participants to learn more about themselves and the world around them. The center is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community of arts supporters while engaging in programming that fosters dialogue about important issues facing today’s world.

As an academic museum, what do you enjoy most about being part of your university/college institution? 

The Turchin Center seeks to use the contemporary arts as a tool to foster deep and meaningful discussions around topics facing our students and community at Appalachian State University.  We love reaching out to students across all areas and disciplines at the university, sharing a variety of art, sparking conversations and offering a place to consider diverse themes and topics.

Gabrielle Knight, preparator, assisting artist April Flanders with her installation of Trophic Cascade, on view at the Turchin Center January 16 – June 1, 2024

What’s one thing — either industry/work-related or not — that your institution’s team learned in the past month?

Through a recent executive leadership transition, the Turchin Center team has learned the importance of working as a cohesive group and using individual leadership skills in their respective areas to contribute to the overall goals and success of the museum. 

Transit Candy, popular stair mural outside the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

You’re catering a lunch for the museum team, what is your team’s favorite food?

Our local Indian Cuisine restaurant, Mint, is our go-to for staff celebrations.  They cater to all types of dietary needs, and who can resist a delicious samosa? We treat our student employees to Mellow Mushroom pizza on exhibition nights.  

2023 Turchin Center Gallery Ambassadors, students that help to guard exhibitions, plan events and create excitement for the visual arts with guests.

Tell us about one of the museum’s recent exhibitions that has opened in the past year?

Trophic Cascade, April Flanders

The web of life under the surface of aquatic ecosystems is exceedingly complex and devastatingly beautiful. In a place where species interactions begin at a microscopic level, small changes by the human species have huge impacts and those changes can wreak havoc. Trophic Cascade addresses the causes and impacts of marine bio-invaders on a global scale, conferring visibility to species normally unseen. April Flanders creates a conversation between art and science, raising awareness around a problem that lacks an easy solution. 

A class of students experience Passage/Time Pieces in the Hodges Gallery

Tell us about one of the museum’s recent programs that you’ve enjoyed in the past year?

In spring 2023, students from Jody Servon’s Exhibitions Practicum class utilized a selection of artwork from the Turchin Center’s Permanent Collection to create an exhibit at the University’s McKinney Alumni Center. Titled Watches the Clouds Roll By, this exhibit was entirely curated and installed by the students, with guidance from the Turchin Center’s Collections Manager and Preparator on proper techniques for art handling and installation. It will be followed by an exhibition from the Permanent Collection curated by the students of the Spring 2024 Exhibitions Practicum class. This partnership ensures that the work students undertake aligns with their educational goals, providing a bridge between theory and practice.

Artists and App State alum Renee Cloud and de’Angelo DIA perform spoken word poetry and live painting alongside student collaborators at First Friday

Tell us about one of your favorite collection objects in the museum?

Everyone loves Tetness, the Polar Bear by James Futral, now a permanent sculpture located at the Turchin Center entrance. The sculpture was installed on the campus of Appalachian State University as part of the 31st Rosen Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, now in its 38th year and presented by an Appalachian Summer Festival and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. 

Tetness, the Polar Bear by James Futral. Sculpture installed on the campus of Appalachian State University as part of the 31st Rosen Sculpture Competition and Exhibition.  Photo by Jarrod Mayes

What is your favorite way to connect with your audience?

We strive to meet all of our visitors where they are. The Turchin Center serves as a welcoming and inviting place where anyone can feel connection and belonging. We do this through kind and attentive staff members including our student gallery ambassadors and workshop facilitators, specialized materials such as sensory bags, a creative artmaking space, customized tours and community events. We prioritize public and outdoor arts programming that allow our campus community to experience art each day. Art in public spaces often serves as a gateway for visitors with sculptures across campus including permanent installations, iconic murals, the annual Rosen Sculpture Exhibition and the Arts Corridor that exhibits new sculptures every two years.

What books or podcasts does your team recommend?

Dolly Parton’s America 

Cerebral Women Art Talks

Art on My Mind by bell hooks 

Museums as Agents of Change: A Guide to becoming a Changemaker by Mike Murawski 

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, adrienne maree brown (2017)

Students during Professor Sharareh Nikbakht’s “Introduction to Mathematics” class tour smile for an elevator photo

What are your team’s hopes for academic museums in the future?

We hope that the future of academic museums is a welcoming, accessible, and integral part of the education our students seek. We believe in offering a comprehensive learning lab for students through internships and employment opportunities, but we also want to be a learning environment outside of the traditional classroom, offering support to university faculty. Most of all, we want the museum to be a place students visit often!

Fun Fact about TCVA:

The 8.5’ x 12’ freight elevator in the Turchin Center is a point of interest for guests of all ages. Children have been known to ride the elevator up and down for long periods of time during events, reveling in its size!   Our team loves to use this in creative ways: additional exhibition space, targeted messaging, and dancers have graced this special space.