Designing Women: French Art Nouveau and Deco Decorative Arts and Women

This talk will focus on women and their role in the Decorative arts between 1890 to 1930, with a specific focus on French Art Nouveau and French Art Deco styles. Women served as model and muse for Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists, which will be discussed in this talk through numerous artworks in the VMFA’s permanent collection, created by the leading designers at the turn of the 19th century and early 20th century. These rapidly changing times offered new opportunities for women who now had their own disposable incomes and ability to work outside the home, which also allowed for women to commission artists and become amateur collectors, as well as to be successful artists themselves. This talk will discuss sculpture, furniture, jewelry, and graphic design in both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements with women as subject, maker, and connoisseur.

Making Comics + Zines

Students learn about Laura Lee’s process for making graphic novels that’s rooted in her use of art for personal healing. In 60 minutes, she can collaboratively develop an original character with students drawing it out LIVE! In 90 minutes, we can concrete a finished six panel comic. With more time students can start drawing their own characters, learn how to fold an 8-page zine, and even create their own mini comic. Available as a whole day workshop. (Free handouts + artistic licenses)

Self/Community Care Plan

Students learn about Laura Lee’s self/ community care practices featured in The Dark Matter of Mona Starr which touches on creative expression, embodied wellness practices, and shared care utilizing support system. In a 60 minute workshop she’ll walk through students making their own self care plan giving practical examples for how to manage their mood & mind. (Many adaptations inspired by Neurodivergent needs.) With more time students can also explore a Mona-inspired drawing prompt.

Sketchbook Dares

Students learn about how Laura Lee’s origin story working in sketchbooks gave her confidence and healing…plus ultimately set her up for success in her graphic novels. (Especially Page by Paige who works in a sketchbook!)  Laura Lee will lead students in a couple of favorite drawing prompts from her interactive book Sketchbook Dares: 24 Ways to Draw Out Your Inner Artist. Plus, she shares inspiration + tips for their ongoing sketchbook practice.

Graphic Novel Adaptation

Interested in adapting scenes from a classic book into graphic novel format with your students? Laura Lee can give an introduction to this process to set your unit up for success! She breaks down the graphic novel creation process so students can apply it to their chosen scene, covering basic visual storytelling mechanics such as pacing + camera angles…plus tips for clear communication and catering to their strengths.

Mindfulness of Art

Students learn about how contemplative practices (aka mindful compassion) have helped Laura Lee cultivate self-awareness, calm the mind, and heal from stress. She then walks students through some of her favorite methods, which can be catered to the specific needs of the students participating and length of the workshop. For example, these practices might include expressive self-portraits, silent partner drawing, eye yoga, mind jar embodiment with balloons, and drawing with breath.

Comic Mural Residency

In this special week-long residency, Laura Lee can work with an entire school grade on making comics which results in a paper mural installed in the school! On Monday-Tuesday she first makes collaborative comics with each class. Then on Wednesday the whole grade meets in an assembly to vote on which class comic to turn into the mural, which Laura Lee draws out on large paper panels. Then on Thursday-Friday students color in the comic mural with patterns using paint pens. Plus, they also can work on their mini comic by themself or with an Artner. (Handouts provided) Laura Lee then installs the mural on Saturday using acrylic gel medium.

Cultivating History: Food, Crops, and Art Educational Exhibition

Cultivating History: Food, Crops, and Art reveals the untold stories of many everyday crops.  Spanning over 200 years of botanical art and illustration, Cultivating History reflects the cross-cultural histories of various plants that have contributed to the arts and sciences as well as human history and progress. This educational exhibition includes 13 beautifully illustrated images of plants, 2 text panels, and 2 maps that explain the global trade of plants before, during, and after European exploration and colonization of the New World.  The histories of sunflowers, maize, tobacco, pineapples, peaches, and apples are related to the important social and economic issues in Virginia and the world.  More broadly, this exhibition underscores how the process of sharing, conserving, and documenting plants has continued to shape our human understanding of the natural world.

As all of our educational exhibitions do, Cultivating History provides a visual reference for starting important conversations that relate to Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) for grades 4 through 12.

A printed exhibition guide along with an activity packet assists teachers in lesson planning and explaining.

This educational exhibition was created and produced by the Oak Spring Garden Foundation from handsomely reproduced images of original works held in the Oak Spring Library.  The mission of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation is to perpetuate and share the gifts of the late Rachel (“Bunny”) Lambert Mellon on whose estate it is located and which is open to the public.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Education Division congratulates the OSGF for their wonderful work with this exhibition and greatly thanks them for their kind long term loan for VMFA to send around the state of Virginia.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a variety of exhibitions available for statewide travel. This exhibition is supported by the Paul Mellon Fund.

LIMITED Security
Suggested Loan Period: 4 to 6 Weeks
Fee: Free

Code Number: GA-115
Panel Sizes:

8 @ 16″ x 20″

2 @ 22” X 16”

4 @ 14” X 18.5”

1 @ 18.5” X 14”

2 @ 16” X 16”

Running Feet: 22.2′
Boxed Weight: 90 lbs.


The End of All Things: The Last Judgment in the Italian Renaissance

The resplendent art of the Italian Renaissance sometimes blinds us to the fact that the Renaissance was not a joyful time in which to live. Famines, plagues, and above all wars made life uncertain and unsettled; and the thought that God might one day, and perhaps one day soon, put an end to it all and wipe the slate clean was one that appealed to many. Justice would finally prevail; the righteous would be rewarded and the guilty would receive their well-deserved come-uppance. Michelangelo’s famous vision of the end of all things is known to us all, but it has its roots in a tradition of great Last Judgments by artists including Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Luca Signorelli. In this lecture we will look at these marvelous paintings and see the ways in which visions of the end developed and changed, giving comfort and terror in uncomfortable and terrible times.

The Rediscovery of Sculpture in Romanesque France

The world didn’t come to an end in the year 1000, as some had predicted it might; and in the years after the millennium, a grand and beautiful style of architecture, decorated with astonishing sculpture, burst forth, to meet the needs of the faithful and particularly of the pilgrims who marched across France on their way to the shrine of St James in northwestern Spain. Sculpture, disused since the fourth century, when apparently it was tainted with the suspicion of idolatry was seized upon with enthusiasm in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Romanesque sculpture was meant to inspire, frighten, and entertain its viewers. It was, and is, an irresistible source of pleasure, in which talented artists were not only employed in the service of religion but were also given freedom of expression that seems surprising to us today. In this lecture we will survey the great sculptures on churches in Burgundy and western France through the mountains to the south, ending in the great cathedra) of Santiago.