2013 Curator’s Choice Exhibition

Making Faces: Portraits From the Permanent Collection

Exhibition: May 16 – July 19, 2013
Museum of Art/WSU Gallery (no reception)

Our summer exhibition has alternated between showcasing regional artists and presenting selections from the Museum’s permanent collection. This year we highlight a number of portraits from the permanent collection in the upcoming exhibition by the late Keith Wells.

Since 2004, Keith had been conducting his “dream job,” putting together numerous exciting and ground-breaking exhibitions as Curator of the Museum of Art/WSU. Keith’s final exhibition literally creates a portrait of the permanent collection here at the museum.

The museum’s permanent collection has its origins in portraiture. In the 1920s and ’30s, WSU President E.O. Holland commissioned Worth D. Griffin, WSU artist and professor, to create portraits of Native American leaders and pioneers. These works became the very first acquisitions to the permanent collection, known as the Holland Collection, and helped lead to the establishment of the Museum of Art/WSU. Since then the collection has grown immensely. From paintings of University dignitaries to screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, the portrait collection is a significant part of our artistic legacy at WSU and the entire Northwest.

The impact of the human face on our culture is boundless: it is likely the first thing you see when you are born, our homes are decorated with images of loved ones, and faces of world leaders and entertainers flood video screens on a global scale. Hence, it is no surprise that the human face has been the subject of artists for over fifteen thousand years, from pre-historic cave paintings to modern day celebrities.

This presents both a challenge and opportunity for the portrait artist. Artists must choose, from nearly infinite moments, a single expression that is expected to show the inner essence of their subject. Artists may represent their subject with photographic realism or an impressionistic similarity… or they can focus on portraying a particular mood or moment.
As Aristotle stated, “The aim of Art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality.” – Zach Mazur, Assistant Curator

To learn more about this exhibition, please visit the museum’s facebook page.