ArtsUNC Charlotte

Charlotte Faculty And Alumni Garner Accolades In Best Of The Nest Awards

In a city teeming with artistic vibrancy, the talents and accomplishments of the College of Arts + Architecture’s faculty and alumni have garnered well-deserved recognition in the prestigious 2023 “Best in the Nest” Awards, as presented by the esteemed Charlotte independent weekly newspaper, Queen City Nerve. This annual accolade, encompassing a diverse array of categories, distinguishes itself through both Critics’ and Readers’ Picks.

In the spirited “City Life” category, accolades were bestowed upon Professors Heather Freeman and Jonathan Dessi-Olive, receiving Critics’ Picks awards for their exceptional contributions. Stacey Rose ’08, a distinguished alumna in Theatre, added to the college’s triumph by securing a Critics’ Picks award in the Arts and Entertainment domain. Notably, the Independent Picture House, under the guidance of Senior Lecturer in Theatre Jay Morong, clinched a Critics’ Pick Award in the dynamic “Night Life” category.

Podcast Excellence: “Magic in the United States: 400 Years of Magical Beliefs, Practices, and Cultural Conflicts”

Distinguished Professor Heather Freeman, an authority in digital media at UNC Charlotte, captivated audiences with her groundbreaking podcast, “Magic in the United States,” unveiled on October 24. Far transcending the realms of witches and spells, Freeman skillfully employs the medium to delve into unconventional notions deeply rooted in tradition, marking a spellbinding addition to the podcasting landscape.

Sustainable Design Visionary: Jonathan Dessi-Olive

Jonathan Dessi-Olive, an assistant professor of architecture at UNC Charlotte, emerged as the beacon of sustainable design innovation. Pioneering the utilization of mushroom-based construction materials, known as “myco-materials,” Dessi-Olive’s work stands as a testament to environmentally conscious architectural practices. His myco-materials, composed of mushroom roots binding hemp wood chips, not only form compostable structures but also offer a guilt-free approach to teaching and prototyping in an era plagued by mounting construction waste.

Revolutionizing Charlotte Theatre: Stacey Rose

Stacey Rose, acclaimed for her Queen City New Play Initiative, redefines the theatrical landscape in Charlotte. Unlike traditional producing organizations, QCNPI serves as a nurturing ground for the development of new plays, echoing the ethos of influential institutions like The Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis. Rose’s initiative underscores the city’s ambition to be a cultural hub, fostering the creation and exportation of diverse artistic narratives.

Elevating the Cinema Experience: Independent Picture House

The Independent Picture House, curated under the discerning eye of programming director Jay Morong, has redefined the cinematic experience since its inauguration in June 2022. Going beyond conventional genre and audience boundaries, the community arthouse cinema has offered a diverse selection of film series, ranging from anime and underground cult gems to 1970s existential road movies and unexpected holiday favorites. Frequent Q&A talkback sessions with filmmakers and screenings for local activists further establish the Independent Picture House as the go-to venue for immersive and socially conscious film experiences.

In the Readers’ Picks, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance and Distinguished Alumna Audrey Baran ’03 shone brightly as the best contemporary dancer, while the Independent Picture House secured the title of Best Movie Theater.

As the Independent Picture House continued its meteoric rise, November marked a particularly illustrious chapter. On November 27, the institution was honored as one of eight “Charlotteans of the Year” by Charlotte Magazine, standing tall as the sole awardee in the coveted “Culture” category. Speaking to the magazine, Jay Morong remarked, “This is a city that has a hunger and a need for diverse films and diverse storytelling,” solidifying the Independent Picture House’s pivotal role in satiating Charlotte’s cultural appetite.

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