Spotlight: American South Consortium

Spotlight: American South Consortium

March 23, 2023 – August 11, 2024

The American South Consortium is a multi-year partnership of Mobile Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT), the Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC), and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL). Working collaboratively, we created a series of exhibitions shaped by each of our collections to broaden the story of American art. The Spotlight series tells new and innovative stories while expanding the understanding of fine art and design by including functional objects. These installations highlight the stories behind singular objects, one from each museum, through an in-depth presentation of its artistic, social, and historical frameworks.


Spotlight: Thomas Day

April 11 — August 11, 2024

Columbia Museum of Art’s Bureau (about 1855), made by Thomas Day (American, 1801–1861), demonstrates the accomplishments of a free Black cabinetmaker in the face of restrictive conditions in the pre-Civil War era.

About the Columbia Museum of Art
Established in 1950, the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) is located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC. The CMA encompasses nearly 7,000 works and spans thousands of years of history, representing a full range of world cultures, and remains the premier art museum in the Southeast and vibrant community hub of the South Carolina Midlands.

Pictured: Thomas Day (American, 1801-1861). Bureau, about 1855. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, yellow pine, poplar, marble, mirror (replaced). Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Clark and the Richard H. Jenrette Decorative Arts Purchase Funds.

 


Past Installations

 

Spotlight: Dusti Bongé

March 23 – July 1, 2023

Mobile Museum of Art will proudly present the work of Dusti Bongé (American, 1903–1993), a prolific female modern artist from Mississippi, though her large-scale abstract expressionist painting Distillate of the Past (Fragment of the Past) (1958). Bongé, born Eunice Lyle Swetman in 1903, lived and painted in Biloxi, Mississippi and exhibited her work in New York and New Orleans. She experimented with abstract art, surrealism, and abstract expressionism, for which she is most known. Bongé led an unorthodox life and career in relative obscurity. Her work is now receiving the recognition it deserves as equal to that of other well-known abstract expressionists, among them Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. 

Pictured: Dusti Bongé, American (1903 – 1993), Distillate of the Past (Fragment of the Past), 1958. Oil on canvas, 54″ x 42″. Gift of the Dusti Bongé Foundation.

 


Spotlight: Alexander Calder

July 7 — October 22, 2023

To expand the story of modern design, Mobile Museum of Art displayed a rarely seen textile by Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976), Rasoir d’avion (Airplane Razor) (1971), a tapestry produced in France. Alexander Calder was an American sculptor who pioneered compositions using the mobile, a metal sculpture suspended from above whose attached parts move with the flow of air. He also designed what he called “stabiles,” grounded metal sculptures. Calder used bright, primary colors and bold shapes in both his mobiles and his stables just as he did when he made prints and designed textiles.

About the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Founded in 1842 with a vision for infusing art into the American experience, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is home to a collection of nearly 50,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years and encompassing European art from antiquity through contemporary as well as American art from the 1600s to today. The Wadsworth Atheneum’s five connected buildings—representing architectural styles including Gothic Revival, Beaux-Arts, International modern, and Brutalist—are located at 600 Main Street in Hartford, Conn.

Pictured: Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976). Rasoir d’avion No.40, 1971. Woven by Pinton Freres, Aubusson Tapestry Factory, Aubusson, France. Wool and synthetic yarn, 68 x 103 ¼ in. Edition 1/6. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, Gift of Susan Morse Hilles.

 


Spotlight: Yvonne Wells

November 16, 2023 — March 17, 2024

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts will present a quilt commemorating the Negro Baseball League in Spotlight: Yvonne Wells. This installation challenges the notion that quilts are craft and not fine art and uses as an example a quilt by African-American quiltmaker and Alabama native Yvonne Wells. The artist initially approached her work with a practical purpose in mind; using found scraps of fabric, she took up quilting during the cold winter months of 1979 to keep her and her children warm. With no prior sewing experience, Wells experimented with different techniques rather than using existing patterns. After determining that following a pattern did not provide enough creative freedom, in 1984, Wells began creating quilts to visually address her experiences during the Civil Rights Movement as well as religious, historical, and sociopolitical concerns.

About the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Founded in 1930, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is home to over 4,000 works of art, consisting primarily of works by American artists from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The museum is located in Blount Cultural Park, a 175-acre park also home to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park.

Pictured: Yvonne Wells (American b. 1939). The Great American Pastime: The Negro Baseball League, 2009. Cotton, cotton/polyester blend, burlap, rickrack, and plastic buttons, 94 1/2 x 71 1/2 in. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase.

 

This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges Cohort Program. 

Support for this and all museum exhibitions and programs is provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mobile County and the City of Mobile