Celebrating the American Spirit is the title of Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection. Special emphasis on a changing America in the 1930s and 1940s is made in a collection which is on exhibit from Aug. 31 to Jan. 6, 2014. Surveying George Washington is a complementary exhibit which will be displayed until Sept. 30.
I was intrigued by a larger-than-life bust by Evan Penny titled "Old Self" which is a portrait of the artist as an old man. To create "Old Self," Perry carved his self-portrait out of hard foam using digital scans of his body and computer control milling. He then made a mold of the carving and cast it in modeling clay. He was able to rework and refine the surface details. The finished clay figure was then cast in silicone and Perry painted its defining features. The photo-realist sculpture shows every wrinkle, hair and imperfection. The completed work looks vividly realistic, but its large size and flatness emphasizes its artificiality. I think it intrigued me because usually people having a portrait made want an opposite approach — wrinkles and imperfections airbrushed and erased. We want to put our best foot forward and show our best self.
"Angels and Tomboys” is the title of a special exhibit which features girlhood in 19th Century American art. It is a collection gathered from several museums and it explores how young girls became popular subjects for American artists in the 1800s. Girls were commonly thought of as innocent and pure. Girls who were quiet, sweet-tmpered, and well-behaved were sometimes called “angels.
After the Civil War, artists began painting girls as less “angelic” and more active and were often portrayed as “tomboys.”
The collection was arranged chronologically and effectively tells the story of America’s history as seen by the artists.