Fashion and portraiture have always been intertwined. Particularly in images of women, clothes are used as a shorthand to describe the sitter’s personality—is she respectable and old-fashioned, over-the-top and risqué, or no-nonsense and capable?
What She Wore features nineteenth and twentieth-century portraits of women from the permanent collection, wearing everything from evening gowns to shirtdresses. Each portrait explores different ideals and conceptions of femininity, urging us to—in the words of Coco Chanel—“look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”
What She Wore is generously supported by Anne K. Coffin.
Coffee and Cocktails brings together vintage furniture, designer clothes, and elegant decorative arts objects to explore the fashionable worlds of teatime and cocktail hour in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first part of the exhibition centers on tea and coffee—two hot beverages that went from exotic imports to everyday necessities over the course of the 1800s, inspiring specialized tableware, furniture, and clothing. The second half of the exhibition takes the viewer from day to evening, and features the barware, furniture, and clothing necessary for an elegant night of drinks and conversation.
Coffee and Cocktails draws from the collections of the Wichita Art Museum and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum to explore this fascinating moment in design history. Come, join the party at the Wichita Art Museum. What are you drinking?
Light and Shadow: Alyson Shotz and Kumi Yamashita, features the work of two sculptors who create work of ethereal beauty.
Alyson Shotz strings silvered-glass beads on steel thread and hangs hernets and skeins in floor-to-ceiling installations. A critic remarked that her work "approaches invisibility." In it, the solid materials of most sculptures are replaced by air and light. Kumi Yamashita presents ordinary objects that cast extraordinary shadows. Under raking light, a wall with a seemingly random scattering of wooden numbers yields a child's monumental profile. A carved exclamation point casts a shadow of a question mark. A chair casts a shadow of a seated woman. Remove the light, and the art disappears.
Both artists create sculptures through labor-intensive handwork and trial-and error experimentation. They are each concerned with expanding bits of matter into large installations, the space-occuping potential of virtually weightless materials, and the variability and mystery of experience. In Light & Shadow, WAM is delighted to present Shotz and Yamashita's awe-inspiring environments to Wichta.
The exhibition is guest curated by Vicki Halper, former curator of the Seattle Art Museum. Halper is no stranger to WAM. She curated Australian Glass Art, American Links, in summer 2014, and Cameo Glass in Contest: Charlotte Potter and April Surgent, in summer 2018.
One of two artists featured in the exhibition Light & Shadow, sculptor Alyson Shotz grapples with light, space, and gravity--elusive qualities of our physical world. What does it mean for space to expand? How is light captured? How will gravity affect what is created?
In Invariant Interval #3 and Equilibrium, nets of beaded wire, once packed into small creates, swell to room size--outlining pockets of air and changing shape to conform to different locations. Shotz says that she is "making sculptures that will contain space and allow it to be seen." Gravity affects the drape and shape of her skeins. Light bursts and mutates from diferent viewing angles and light conditions, dematerializing or illuminatingn the structure. Color is present only as reflected in the glass. The artist considers that she is "redefining large-scale sculpture."
Shotz was born in Arizona in 1964 and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Washington. Shotz has created large-scale installations for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Stanford University's Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, among many other places. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and other leading museums. This exhibition of Shotz's work--made from silvered-glass beads--is part of the Wichita Art Museum's commitment to exhibiting groundbreaking contemporary glass art.
in 2008, Kumi Yamashita--labeled "The Magician of Shadow"--appeared on the Japanese TV show Unbelievable. Guests were asked to predict the shadows that would appear when her carved wood blocks were illuminated by a single light bulb. Fish? Alto Sax? Map? As the audience gasped, the profile of a young man, seeming both living and insubstantial, emerged from a scatter of intert matter. "The complete artowrk," Yamashita writes, "is comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow)."
This sleight of hand is the result of painstaking manipulation of the solid objects and an artist who questions the reliability of fixed assumptions. For Yamashita, ugliness resides in stereotyping and rigid beliefs. Beauty resides in change. Shadows are beautiful in their mutability. They "reveal this extraordinary dimension where we see no borders, no races, no separation...only the essence of what we are."
Yamashita, whose first name, Kumi, means "creating beauty," was born in Takasaki, Japan, in 1968 and recently settled in Woodsstock, New York. In the years between, she has traveled, studied and worked worldwide, including undergraduate and graduate studies at cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, and the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. She is uninterested in calling any one place home, and says, "i have always longed for a land that embraced all humanity and ideologies." Yamashita's work was featured this spring in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now.
Light & Shadow: Alyson Shotz and Kumi Yamashita is a special loan exhibition organized by the Wichita Art Museum. The project is guest curated by Vicki Halper, former curator at the Seattle Art Museum with deep expertise in craft and glass art.
On view in the Louise and S.O. Beren Gallery and John W. and Mildred L. Graves Gallery.
This summer exhibition is generously supported by the F. Price Cossman Trust, INTRUST BANK, Trustee. The DeVore Foundation, Shaw Family Foundation, and Nancy and Bob Schwan are addtional exhibition sponsors. All exhibitions are supported by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and City of Wichita.
Will Barnet: Timeless Visions features seven works by one of America’s most evocative and haunting artists. Drawn from Barnet’s home life and often featuring his wife and daughter as models, Barnet’s prints and paintings are quiet and personal but also powerfully transcendent. In each, Barnet depicts what he knows intimately--his wife, his daughter, family pets, the woods and coast of Maine--and uses it to explore such timeless themes as love, intimacy, solitude, and death.
On view in the DeVore Gallery.
Charles Russell was one of the great painters of the American West. With little formal training but much firsthand experience of his subject, he captured the western landscape in all of its wild and nostalgic moments.
In 1880, when he was only 16, Russell went to Montana for the first time to work on a family friend’s ranch. Ranch life was not for Russell, but he would stay in Montana for two years working for a hunter and trapper.
He began to draw and paint animals at this time and learned a great deal about their anatomy. In 1882, he went to work as a night herder for a group of cowboys called the Judith Basin Roundup, and on and off for the next 11 years he would work watching cattle by night and painting during the day.
In 1888, Russell returned to St. Louis for a short time and submitted some of his art to Harpers Weekly, where it was published. His work had become very popular in the Montana territory, and he began to sell pieces and take commissions for works when he returned.
With the advent of the railroad to Montana, the territory became more civilized, and Russell mostly gave up cowboy life in order to become a full time painter of the life he had known in the West that was now slowly fading.
On view in the Charles M. Russell Gallery.
No Idle Hands gives museum visitors a chance to view the art and artifacts that reflect daily life in America's early history. The exhibition features highlights from WAM's newly acquired collection of more than 450 works of American folk art, including some of the best furniture, samplers, hunting decoys and lures, and corner store paraphernalia from the new collection.
It tells the story of America's past while also foregrounding the beautiful materials and craftsmanship of many of these objects.
WAM's curatorial staff organized the exhibition with local architect Dean Bradley, of Platt, Bradley, Adams, and Associates. As a specialist in residential architecture with a personal passion for history and preservation who also serves on the board of The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Bradley designed a gallery installation evoking the stores and homes in which the works were originally used and cherished. Shop signs--including iconic striped barber poles--conjure up an image of Main Street. Portraits, toys, and miniatures--small, hand-held portraits sometimes worn as jewelry--reference the life of the family and home. Each object--some rare and precious and others common fare—tells the story of the changes and continuities of daily life in America over the last 200 years.
On view in the Vollmer Gallery.
Every work of art has a story to tell.
When John Steuart Curry was growing up in on his family farm near Dunavant, Kansas, he would often wander into the high fields of corn. "I remember," he wrote, "wandering through them and being over-powered by the fear of being lost in their green confines."
At 35 years of age, Curry returned to those fields to capture in his work the same sense of drama he felt, "beneath our windblown Kansas skies." For Curry, Kansas Cornfield represented the story of his youth on a Kansas farm.
When Curry's Kansas Cornfield entered WAM's permanent collection, a new chapter in its tale was written and a new story began. The work was the first painting collected by the Wichita Art Museum. As the foundational work of art for the new museum, the painting came to symbolize WAM's commitment to both the highest caliber American art and to Kansas audiences.
Today, Kansas Cornfield has become a part of many visitors' personal stories. Brett Zongker, an Associated Press journalist based in Washington D.C., recently featured the painting on his popular Twitter feed. As a self-described "son of Kansas," the painting represents home to Zongker.
Museums, by their very nature, are repositories of incredible stories. The Wichita Art Museum has introduced its visitors to the best American artwork and has been a part of thousands of engaging stories. In celebration of the museum's 80th anniversary in 2015, Storytelling, underwent a reinstallation of the permanent collection, celebrating the histories, mysteries, and anecdotes that make the Wichita Art Museum collection unlike any other.
Each and every one of WAM's objects has a story to tell. What influenced its creation? Who is pictured? How did the work come to Wichita? Storytelling invites visitors to take another look at familiar favorites from the collection as well as important works that have been off view for many years. We hope that the artworks inspire a meaningful encounter with the past, one that is relevant to everyone's personal story today.
On view in the Louise Caldwell Murdock Gallery, Elizabeth S. Navas Gallery, and the Excel/Cargill Cares Gallery.
Completely reimagined, the museum presents a compelling arrangement of the distinguished and growing glass art collection. For the new display, the museum consulted with the Seattle-based independent curator and craft scholar Vicki Halper.
Notably, Halper curated WAM's popular 2014 summer exhibition Australian Glass Art, American Links for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.
Revealing WAM's rich holdings, the variety, quality, and artistry of Steuben glass is on view. In fascinating ways, the exquisite work of the Steuben Glass Works, the world-class glass manufacturer (1903—2011), continues to beguile and inspire artists. The new installation acknowledges and examines how contemporary glass artists explore the continuing allure and legacy of Steuben. Magnificent work by such living artists as Dante Marioni and Kiki Smith are on view.
The new collection display also features a new commission--an elaborate, Steuben-inspired candelabrum--by glass artist Andy Paiko. This special work is effervescent! It incorporates an abundantly enthusiastic array of forms and techniques first developed by Steuben. Paiko's tapering candle holders hang gracefully from the central form, each demonstrating the Steuben "air-twist" technique, perfected by designer George Thompson. The cinched, bell-shaped forms of the upper part of the large-scale candleholder are typical of Thompson's designs. WAM's collection includes original sketches by Thompson during his time working for Steuben, making Paiko’s reimagining of Thompson's forms particularly relevant to the collection.
On view in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.
The term salon style derives from the exhibition of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which began in 1667 in Paris.
In order to display work by all the Academy's students, the paintings were hung as close as possible from floor to ceiling. In the nineteenth century, this salon-style hanging became increasingly popular across Europe and in the United States. The gallery has been transformed into an American salon featuring remarkable 19th-century paintings from the museum's permanent collection.
On view in the Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery.
Dr. Robert Burnstein, a Detroit psychiatrist, began collecting glass in the 1980s. He was attracted to American glass of the 19th and 20th centuries because, as he stated, "it was a time when handcrafted expertise and precision craftsmanship were the benchmarks of the American glass industry."
Soon he came to find that among American companies, the glass produced by Steuben was unsurpassed in quality, color intensity, and breadth of design.
Therefore, he focused his collecting first on Steuben, then on candlesticks in particular. He concentrated on candlesticks given their elegance of design and great variety of their colors and decorative techniques. Dr. Burnstein has presented his collection in honor of his parents, Donald and Arlene Burnstein.
On view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.
WAM's unique collection of Pre-Columbian art and artifacts was collected by Haig Kurdian between 1954-1959 during expeditions into Mexico and Costa Rica. The collection is mostly pottery, a few pieces of metal, carved shells, and precious stones.
In Mesoamerican culture, pottery was appreciated as an artistic medium--a way people could express emotions and ideas--not solely as a utilitarian material. To make ceramic art, these ancient peoples gathered clay from local sources and formed shapes using only their hands by pinching or coiling the clay. After shaping the objects, they were placed in very hot, open fires and baked until hard.
"I particularly love that tripod bowl, from Teotihuacan, with the square legs. It's a superb, beautiful piece. To think that someone made that, not on a potter's wheel, but by piling up coils of clay, then working it and firing it. And it's survived at least 2,500 years. The other tripod bowl I love represents a squash and has parrot legs. That one is from Colima," Kurdian said.
The artifacts originated from various locations in Mexico including Colima, Veracruz, Valley of Mexico, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Guerrero. The collection includes artifacts from Costa Rica: including Atlantic Watershed, Guanacaste-Nicoya Zone, and the Diquis Zone. The objects date from 1000 B.C. to 1450 A.D.
The collection was given to the Wichita Art Museum by Haig, Rima, and Gregory Kurdian in 1977. Then in 1986, Louise and S.O. Beren offered WAM a selection of artifacts, they had earlier received from Haig's expeditions.
On view in the Cessna Art Investigation Gallery.