W&L Museums host grand reopening, reception

Washington and Lee UniversityThe Museums at Washington and Lee University, including the Reeves Museum of Ceramics, University Chapel & Galleries, and Watson Galleries, will reopen to the campus community and general public on Thursday.

To mark the occasion, the Museums at W&L invite the public to their grand reopening reception on Friday, Sept. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Watson Galleries and Reeves Museum of Ceramics. This occasion marks the first W&L Museums in-person event open to the public since March 2020.

Provost Lena Hill and Amelia Lancaster ’22, an art history and East Asian language and literatures double major, will give the opening remarks at the reception.

Three new exhibits will be on display for the reopening, including: “My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples,” consisting of selected prints by Elizabeth Catlett; “Auspicious Animals,” a display of Chinese export porcelain figures; and “Capturing Color,” a collection of paintings by Louise Herreshoff Eaton.

The Exhibits

“My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples” – Selected Prints by Elizabeth Catlett

On View: Sept. 16 – Dec. 4, 2021
Watson Galleries

The exhibition, mounted by the Museums at W&L from its collections and a special loan from the Sragow Gallery in New York City, features nine important prints by Elizabeth Catlett. “My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples” refers to the title of a 1970 article in Ebony Magazine in which Catlett states, “I am inspired by Black people, and Mexican people, my two peoples.”

Collectively, the prints highlight three overarching themes in the artist’s oeuvre: identity, collaboration and activism. The exhibition highlights some intersections of Black and Mexican people’s histories and experiences that Catlett explores throughout her long career in her sculpture and prints.

“Today, Catlett’s works offer a powerful lesson on the campus of Washington and Lee,” said W&L Provost Lena Hill. “Her prints inspire and demand as she celebrates and exhorts. Ultimately, she reminds us that vivifying individual cultural and political truths is essential, and she invites others to do the same. She strives to deepen the conversation and history that belongs to all of us. This exhibition invites visitors to interpret diverse American experiences as we also consider an artist who refuses to veil difficult parts of our story. What a sight to behold.”

Two gallery talks drawing upon Catlett’s work will take place during the Fall Term.

A virtual talk titled “‘My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples’: Interdisciplinary Responses to Elizabeth Catlett” is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. Shaundel Sanchez, DeLaney Postdoctoral Fellow in the Shepherd Program, and Nadeen Kharputly, visiting assistant professor of English, will deliver the lecture. The event is free and open to the public and can be accessed online here.

On Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, located in Leyburn Library, Nneka Dennie, assistant professor of history and core faculty in Africana Studies; Mohamed Kamara, professor of French; and Michael Hill, professor of Africana Studies, will present “Kaleidoscopic Catlett.” The event will also be livestreamed on Zoom. Learn more about the event and register here.

The exhibit was made possible through a special loan from the Sragow Gallery.

“Auspicious Animals” – Chinese Export Porcelain Figures

On View: Sept. 16 – Dec. 4, 2021
Watson Galleries

In the 1700s and 1800s, decorative figures of animals were some of the most elaborate, exclusive and expensive pieces of porcelain exported from China to Europe. But the animal figures are more than just pretty porcelain pets; they reflect Chinese traditions that see many animals as auspicious, meaning they symbolize good fortune. This exhibit highlights those pieces.

Chinese potters drew on traditions when designing the animal figures, even though their original European owners rarely understood the symbolic significance.

These rare objects were prized decorations for grand European homes. They can be read as documentation of the cultural and artistic interactions between China and Europe that were part of the China Trade.

This exhibit was curated by Amelia Lancaster ’22 and Ron Fuchs II, senior curator of ceramics at W&L.

“Auspicious Animals not only highlights an incredible collection of Chinese export porcelain figures that are a promised gift to the Reeves Museum of Ceramics, but it also features the work of Amelia Lancaster, a W&L senior, who curated the exhibit with me,” said Fuchs.

A Gallery talk titled “‘Auspicious Animals:’ Chinese Export Porcelain Figures and their Meanings” will take place on Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. in the Northen Auditorium located in Leyburn Library. It will also be livestreamed on Zoom. Speakers will include Fuchs, Lancaster and Yanhong Zhu, associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures. Registration is required and can be accessed online here.

The exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Felicia Warburg Rogan and Steve and Mary Lynn Marks.

“Capturing Color” – Paintings of Louise Herreshoff Eaton

On view: Ongoing in the Elizabeth S. Gottwald Gallery
Reeves Museum of Ceramics

Almost 200 portraits, landscapes and still life paintings by Louise Herreshoff Eaton were a surprise find in a significant donation of ceramics that the artist and her second husband, Euchlin Reeves ’27, gave to W&L in 1967.

On view in the Elizabeth S. Gottwald Gallery in the Reeves Museum of Ceramics, the exhibition “Capturing Color” highlights a selection of Louise Herreshoff’s bold and expressive oil paintings created in the 1920s during visits to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, a popular area for painters and art colonies during the last 150 years. The works depict harbor scenes and landmarks still found in Gloucester, Rockport and other sites on the North Shore.

This exhibition offers fresh and focused access to a selection of Herreshoff’s paintings and examines the artist in her cultural context. An unknown but talented artist, Herreshoff worked and exhibited during a pivotal, vigorous and transitional moment in American art. She is a prime example of late 19th- and early 20th-century upper-class women who could study art abroad in an environment that was more costly but far more supportive than anything available at the time to women in the United States. Her paintings were accepted several times into the Paris Salon and were hung in quality venues in and around New York and Rhode Island during the 30-plus years of her creative production.

“What is particularly exciting about ‘Capturing Color’ is that it is the culmination of new research conducted with help over several years from our museum summer interns that places the artist into her cultural context,” said Patricia Hobbs, senior curator of art at W&L. “It’s more than mere biography.”

For more information about the reopening event and exhibits, please call 540-458-8768.

The W&L Museums are open to the public beginning on Sept. 16 on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All visitors, including those who are fully vaccinated, are expected to wear a mask indoors to comply with campus Covid-19 guidelines.


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