Museums and Social Responsibility

Museums are places for ideas and dialogue that use collections, exhibitions, and programs to inspire people. The power of museums lies in acting as agents of social change. Museums are uniquely positioned to acknowledge and accept the needs, concerns, and issues of the diverse, often disenfranchised, and shifting audience landscape. As a place of dialogue and civic engagement in today’s complex world, the museum is uniquely positioned to acknowledge the issues and concerns of diverse cultural identities (race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical disability, psychological concerns, intolerance, oppression, and more). Museums that are socially responsible all have one thing in common: they have a passion to create social value.

Propaganda vs. Social Commentary in Art During World War I

The Twentieth Century presented society with a long list of incomprehensible situations and events, beginning with World War I. Acting as a buffer between the horrors of reality and individual’s perceptions of the world, art helps to inform, explain and educate society, but it can also be used to change people’s perceptions. In August 1914, a targeted and systematic manipulation of opinion by the media, intellectuals and authorities started through the use of propaganda – systematically deployed, both qualitatively and quantitatively, as a political instrument for the first time, “through which authority was legitimated by usage, precedent, and custom.”

The Nativity Cycle in Western Art

Narrative scenes of the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary were, by the Middle Ages, the most common images in Western art, and were found throughout the architecture of the church – pulpit, doors, altarpieces, and so on. These scenes were remarkable for their consistency of composition. The reason is that these scenes were meant to be “read” – to inform the Christian viewer of the life and teachings of Christ, to deliver a message of the authority of Christ and hence the church, and to provide spiritual sustenance. Images of the Nativity cycle are specifically illustrative, and include many narrative details. Significant among the narrative, symbolic images of the life of Christ are scenes concerning the birth of Jesus, and hence the birth of the Church. This Nativity cycle includes the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Annunciation to and Adoration of the Shepherds, and the Adoration of the Magi.

On With the Show…

Anthropomorphism parodies our tendency to see the human in everything, reminding us at the same time of the separate, secret reality of nature. Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphized animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognized types of human behavior. This lecture traces the anthropomorphic development of the classic characters of Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, and Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphonies, and full-length animated features during the golden age of animation.

“My Day Long Obsession, Joy and Torment”: The Use of Color in Art

The American Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko once said: “A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience.” Objectively, color is the element of art that is produced when light, striking an object, is reflected back to the eye. Subjectively, color is a sensation, a human reaction to a hue arise in part from the optic nerve. Colors are also symbols or codes that artists use to convey emotions, express themselves, and transform viewers intellectually and emotionally. When we examine color through the eyes of the artist, their belief in the power of color comes to the fore. This lecture starts at the beginning, more than 40,000 years ago.

Art Goes to War: The Tragedies of Franz Marc and August Macke

When World War I broke out in August 1914, many German Expressionist artists initially believed it could be the apocalyptic event that would at last overthrow the self-satisfied materialism of the nation’s monarch and bourgeoisie. Franz Marc and August Macke, two of the leading artists of German Expressionism, were among those who enlisted for active duty or were drafted. This lecture examines their experiences during the war, and the lives of others who survived only to become denounced as “degenerates.”

Pop Art: Blurring Boundaries

Pop Art brought mass consumerist culture into museums and galleries in the early 1960s radically changing the course of art by eliminating the boundary between “high” culture and everyday life. Part of what paved the way was that it was the first major art movement with a sense of humor. This talk, using images of painting and film, surveys the American Pop Art scene and its leading figure Andy Warhol who invented his own Hollywood-style empire including “superstars” and his own celebrity status.

Aspects of Ingenuity and Innovation: A Potter’s Perspective on VMFA’s Ceramic Art Collection

From Greco-Roman pottery to Annabeth Rosen’s clay sculptures, the VMFA’s ceramics collection includes examples of not only great artistic achievement but technological invention as well. Greek red and black figure ware, Koran sanggam inlay decoration, San Ildefonso Pueblo black ware, high fire celadons, and Japanese tea ceremony vessels are but part of an enduring, endearing legacy. Steven Glass, VMFA’s Resident Potter, will discuss these various concerns as well as highlighting contemporary art issues through the lens of the Annabeth Rosen exhibition ” Fables. ”

Basic Drawing in Pencil Workshop

All levels.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, this course will help you create clear images.
You will do multiple drawing exercises to improve your skills and awaken your ability to translate what you see onto paper. You will practice using line, mass, form, value, perspective and composition.
Photos will be provided to work from and there will be demonstrations of the concepts.

From Invisibility to Political Activism: the Black Experience in American Art

Historically, and in our own time, African American artists have foregrounded in their work the social, political, and cultural successes of Black Americans and have offered vociferous critiques of violations of their civil rights, and of systemic racism. In their art they questioned racial stereotyping and engaged their audience in thoughtful, but also provocative interrogations of the cultural and socio-political marginalizations of African Americans in American society. This lecture will analyze works by African American artists in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among others, as the means of resistance and political activism aiming to dismantle racial prejudice and celebrate multilayered African American identities.