The William Benton Museum of Art held a reception Thursday afternoon debuting four new exhibits focused on the central theme women in art.
The featured exhibits were “WORK IT” composed of oil paintings primarily from Ellen Emmet Rand, “Objectifying Myself: Works by Women Artists from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,” “Liz Whitney Quisgard: An Installation” of textile based art, and Stanwyck Cromwell’s “Progression Then & Now.”
The entire museum featured themes of women, but the works that covered the display space comprised a wide range of mediums, materials and styles.
Some were objectively feminine or feminist in nature whilst others were not so fast to give up what they had to say.
The first and most prominent works displayed were created by Ellen Rand. Rand was one of the most important and prolific portrait painters in the United States in the first decades of the 20th century.
Her works include portraits of Henry James, artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and over 800 other artists, industrialists, scientists and politicians.
“By far my favorite pieces and artist in this gallery is Rand,” said eighth-semester art history major Charlotte MacGregor. “She was so revolutionary. She was doing things that she really shouldn’t have been doing in her time. She would spend hours in a room alone with a man for the sake of a portrait but this was forbidden no matter the context. She was also one of the first women commissioned to paint a U.S. president. But what makes her works so special is that when you take some time with her portraits and back up from her work, you can feel the life in the subject.”
A small room was filled with artist Liz Quisgard’s hand stitched and incredibly detailed tapestries, draped from the very tops of the ceiling to completely encompass the viewer in a somewhat disorienting space.
“I feel as though the doors should be closed for these works so you can really feel the pieces in a more meditative manor,” said fourth-semester painting major Isabella Saraceni.
Quisgard’s works use of color shifted slightly in hue leading the eye in a confusing manor, yet also intentionally soothing the viewer like static on an old television set.
Her repeating patterns and slight gradient changes made her works pop off the wall to compose intricate networks of shapes both two and three-dimensional.
On the balcony level, Caribbean painter Stanwyck Cromwell’s works provide a pleasant contrast and an enticing palate for the viewers.
His works on display at the Benton are a reflection of his past works as he skipped around different mediums and pieces and how his views on his work have changed over the years.
“When I was a young painter in my 20s I was so determined to define myself as a painter,” Cromwell said. “Now I am no longer just a painter, but I am an artists. Having many works of different mediums really helped change my perspective on art and the lives of artists. For example, when you are invested in a relationship with one girl and she leaves you, you are devastated but when you are equally invested in many girls, if something goes wrong between a few, it has a smaller impact and there is somewhere else to turn, a place for you to progress.”
The event ended with a brief thank you from Art and Art History faculty member Alexis Boylan directed to all the artists, members, organizations and donors who made the event possible as well as a bump for the upcoming 60s themed party fundraiser to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Benton Museum. The exhibits will remain in the Benton until July 30, 2017.
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.