Story+ Project

Manipulated Materials: Documentary Sculpture


The Story+ team for Manipulated Materials will be curating and preparing the fall 2020 exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery which will focus on documentary sculpture. The exhibition artists will be pre-selected, but team members will be interacting with artists, either via in-person studio visit or conference call, researching the themes of the exhibition, as well as creating the in-gallery text, guides and educational materials. We will also begin laying out the exhibit. During the six weeks team members will take an idea and move it closer a concrete reality while considering real-life constraints, such as budget and staffing limitations, and needs such as programming meaningful to both the Duke and greater Durham communities. Students should expect to come away with a good idea of the behind-the-scenes prep work for an exhibition, and begin to consider ways in which art and the gallery interact with and for communities.

Skills undergrad:

Deadline oriented, capable of working independently and reporting back to the team, attention to detail and respect for your team members’ time is a must. Act according to directions or the needs of the team, whether that need is communicated in person or via email. Other skills: familiarity with Adobe suite, such as Photoshop and InDesign. Familiarity with Word and Excel. Research skills that involve using a library as well as online sources. Ability to write succinctly to communicate broad and complex ideas.. An eye for design is a plus, as is familiarity with 3D modelling software such as Sketchup or Maya.

Skills grad:

Same as above, also: ability to stay organized, prioritize needs, and lead a team of several people. Good email etiquette needed. Copyediting skills and any project management experience a plus.

Project Sponsor(s): 

Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Director of Power Plant Gallery

Graduate Mentor(s): 

Caoimhe Harlock, PhD candidate, English


Rezilience Williamson, Mina Jang, Ayesham Khan, Jade Xiong (MFA candidate, Experimental and Documentary Arts)


The work on the first volume of the zine, Shape of Content,  began with a series of questions: What is documentary sculpture? What are its attributes? How is it different than documentary film or photography? Writ large the questions were less about documentary sculpture as a discipline and more about the particularities of object-based storytelling – whether that might be a statue in a central square, or an installation in a gallery. This thought project led, as many do, to a forthcoming exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery with North Carolina native Stephanie J. Woods. I, along with the Story+ team of Caoimhe Harlock, Mina Jang, Ayesham Khan, Rezilience Williamson and Jade Xiong were able to use this exhibit as a point of departure and explore ideas around the body, senses, materials, and how knowledge is created through object-based art. We chased these threads, following side roads and instincts, letting one piece of information lead us to the next - less concerned about reaching a final destination, than navigating the journey. The research outcomes presented here - as with the work of any artist - are mediated through both physical and mental states, taking on the shape they were intended to be. -- Caitlin Margaret Kelly



  • Arts
  • Visual Media
  • Documentary