Arts & Humanities

NEHMA Presents Two New Exhibitions Highlighting Art by Women and African American Artists

By Phillip Brown |

Left: Pamela Boden, "The Magician's Castle," ca. 1950, glued wood and modeling paste, 39.5 x 52.25 x 34.25 inches, Gift of the Kathryn C. Wanlass Foundation. Right: Alison Saar, “Martyrdom of St. Rufus,” 1983, painted fresco with collage on wooden sticks, Gift of Joe Austin.

Two new exhibitions open at Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA), both amplifying voices that have historically been marginalized in art history. One highlights women who have explored Surrealism and abstraction in their artwork. The other features African American artists with pieces selected from the museum’s permanent collection.

Both exhibitions open Tuesday, Aug. 25, providing a welcome addition to the other exhibition currently on view, The Day After Tomorrow: Art in Response to Turmoil and Hope

“These three exhibitions speak powerfully to many concerns in our present moment,” said Katie Lee-Koven, executive director and chief curator at NEHMA. “And the art offers an important opportunity to really engage our empathy and reflection.”   

Women, Surrealism, and Abstraction

During the 20th century, art made by women was often overlooked or dismissed by museums, collectors, and art historians due to biases that privileged the work of white male artists. Until more recently, women of color—especially Native American women—have rarely been included in art historical studies focusing on Surrealism and abstraction. In addition, artists working in mediums other than painting and sculpture, such as ceramics, fiber arts, photography and printmaking, are often left out as well. 

Featuring work by 46 different artists, Women, Surrealism, and Abstraction attempts to present a more holistic and complex view of art history—one that highlights artwork by women pushing beyond societal expectations and creative limitations through Surrealism and abstraction.

Also featured alongside the art are 16 poems written by women in the Cache Valley literary community. Each poet was invited to select pieces from the exhibition and write poetry inspired by or in response to the artworks, bringing the women into a kind of creative dialogue that reaches across art forms and across time. A selection of the poems will be offered as an audio tour.    

African American Art, Social Justice, and Identity: Works by Black Artists from the NEHMA Collection

African American Art, Social Justice, and Identity addresses Black identity in the United States through works of art by ten African American artists and ephemera from collectives including the Black Panthers, spanning 1887-1989. Sourced from the NEHMA collection, these artworks provide compelling visual form to racism, discrimination and inequality.

Civil unrest, Black Lives Matter and the killing of George Floyd have precipitated an unprecedented examination of systemic racism in this country. 

“Institutions, including museums, are examining their own instances of prejudice and bias,” said Bolton Colburn, curator of collections and exhibitions at NEHMA. “In response, NEHMA is also looking internally and, in particular, evaluating its collection in terms of representation of art by racial minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ artists.”

Please note that the museum has taken precautions to ensure a safe experience for all visitors and staff, including face masks, regular cleaning, encouraging social distance and limiting the total number of visitors to 60 people at a time. Visitors have the option to make a reservation for one-hour time slots in advance. To make a reservation, please visit artmuseum.usu.edu/about/visit.

Visiting the museum is free of charge. Starting the week of August 24, NEHMA will be open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3pm. 

Free visitor parking is offered in the lot behind the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall. For public transportation, ride the Cache Valley Transit routes 1, 4, or the green or blue Loop and get off at the Fine Arts stop. 

WRITER

Phillip Brown
Public Relations Specialist
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art
435-797-0227
phillip.brown@usu.edu

CONTACT

Phillip Brown
Public Relations Specialist
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art
435-797-0227
phillip.brown@usu.edu


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