Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Guest Blogger: Tommie Rodgers

At the Museum: Our Favorite Things

If you haven’t visited the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art since the “NASA|ART” exhibition earlier this summer, you have missed out on seeing some of our old favorites that are installed in the Stairwell Gallery. It’s not unusual to see these friends hanging in the galleries from time to time but this exhibition has a twist.

Customarily, our curator selects works from the permanent collection and decides which items to include as well as determines their location on the wall. ”Our Favorite Things: Works from the American Art Collection” features works chosen by various members of the LRMA staff including our building superintendent, development director and library cataloguer, to name a few.

There are nineteen paintings and works on paper on display and of those, half are from Mississippi or have lived in Mississippi during their lifetime. Of the two pieces by Laurel artists, Amorita Gordon and Billy Ford, Gordon’s “Still Life with Red Lilies” was selected by Librarian Donna Smith. Her statement reveals her thoughts of the cold weather where she spent her childhood. She states the “painting is like a huge burst of spring and summer combined, with its own assurance of sunshine and happiness.”

Former Intern Nancy Wright enjoys “Misty Day” by Billy Ford and shares that “Ford paints with the colors of blue and focuses on the subtleties of the color instead of a recognizable subject. His fluidity of paint and abstract use of form allow me to focus on what I feel rather than what I am being told to feel.”

Mississippi photographer Birney Imes evokes other thoughts in Director of Marketing Holly Green. Green states that, “there is something very honest about photography...when you shoot black and white film, you get down to the bare bones of it all - clean lines, contrast between light and dark, positives and negatives. This photograph is beautiful to me because of the proximity Imes is granted, showing that he obviously has the girl’s complete trust.”

Visitor Services Coordinator Liz Brumley is reminded of the sense of home in the works of Mississippi watercolorist William Hollingsworth. “These two small watercolors of Hollingsworth’s depict the comfort and joy found in the familiar. ‘The Filling Station’ could be the one down the road from my grandmother’s home,” Brumley writes.

Laurel native Allyn Boone, the museum’s Director of Development, conveys her impressions of “The Bather” by Alice Neel in her words, “I love the colors in the artwork, particularly the green ocean and the blue shadow, as well as the confidence of the young girl in the two-piece bathing suit and floppy hat.”

Angie King, the museum’s Outreach Coordinator, appreciates “Forward Together” by Jacob Lawrence as she states that “Lawrence’s use of movement and color create a very powerful image of the road to freedom” in the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

My favorite for this season is Miriam Hirsch’s “Wheel of Fortune,” I share that “Hirsch’s painting is full of spinning action, playfulness and child-like whimsy...(the painting) invites the viewer to join in on the unpredictable fun.”

Of course, I can’t share every object in the exhibition but I hope I’ve piqued your interest. Seeing and learning about art doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or too high-brow to understand and we all interpret differently. Educating oneself on the artist, historical events, societal trends, fashions, and economic and political influences of the day will shed light on the subject matter and its treatment by the artist. The viewer’s knowledge of art, emotional interpretation and interest in the subject matter will combine to enhance the interpretation.

I invite you to come by and compare your own opinions with those of our staff members. Would you interpret some of the same ideas?

Our building superintendent sums it all up when he describes “Mackerel” by Marie Hull. “What this represents to me is four of my favorite things: Food, Fishing, Mississippi and Art.” What more can I say?

Tommie Rodgers is the registrar at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

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